The 13th century Syriac writer Bar Hebraeus wrote before the Mongol invasions that devastated the Near East and reduced it to the backward condition in which it has languished ever since. The same events also brought an end to the production of Syriac literature, and caused the loss of vast amounts of what already existed.
Among his works are two histories. The second is the Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, an encyclopedia of Syriac people, both Syrian Orthodox and Church of the East, with details of their lives and works. This was printed with a Latin translation, but has never been translated into English. Until now.
David Wilmshurst writes to tell me that he has translated it, and has now received the proof copy from Gorgias Press, who are issuing it. I would imagine that it is an essential purchase. Here’s the blurb:
The Ecclesiastical Chronicle of the Jacobite polymath Bar Hebraeus (†1286), an important Syriac text written in the last quarter of the 13th century, has long been recognised as a key source for the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Bar Hebraeus describes the eventful history of the Jacobite and Nestorian Churches, as they were then called, from their earliest beginnings down to his own time, against the background of christological controversies, Roman‒Persian wars, the Arab Conquest, the Crusades and the 13th-century Mongol invasions. Two continuators bring the story down to the end of the 15th century, shedding valuable light on a relatively obscure period in the history of both Churches. The Ecclesiastical Chronicle was translated into Latin between 1872 and 1877, but has never before been fully translated into English. Gorgias Press is proud to publish the first complete English translation of this influential text, by respected Syriac scholar David Wilmshurst.
This elegant translation of the Ecclesiastical Chronicle, six years in the making, captures the distinctive flavour of Bar Hebraeus’s style, and is complemented by a facing Syriac text. Wilmshurst also provides a detailed introduction, setting the chronicle in its historical and literary context. His translation is accompanied by five maps, showing the dioceses of the Jacobite and Nestorian Churches and the towns, villages and monasteries of Tur ‘Abdin and the Mosul Plain. A helpful bibliography and index are also provided.
David Wilmshurst was educated at Worcester College, Oxford, where he took a D Phil degree in Oriental Studies (1998). He has spent much of his life in Hong Kong, and is one of the few modern scholars of the Church of the East who can read Syriac, Arabic and Chinese. He is the author of The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318–1913 (Louvain, 2000), a study of the Christian topography of Iraq and Iran, and The Martyred Church (London, 2011), a general history of the Church of the East. Both books have been warmly praised by leading scholars.
I hope that the price is reasonable.