Michael the Syrian vol. 3 has arrived

I scanned volume 1 and volume 2 of the French translation of the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian, the big 12th century Syriac Chronicle and placed them on Archive.org.  I learned today that after a very long wait, volume 3 has appeared at the local library via ILL.  I shall go and get it tomorrow, and fire up my scanner.


Michael the Syrian vol. 2 now at Archive.org

I’ve finished scanning the 540-odd pages of vol. 2 of Michael the Syrian and uploaded a PDF of it to Archive.org here.  Archive.org are still using Abbyy Finereader 8 to OCR the text, and Finereader 9 is quite a bit better.  So I have also uploaded the output from that; a Word document, a .txt file, and a .htm file.  These are indicated as *_fr9.*.

Tomorrow I will go down to the library and order volume three, which is the final volume of the translation.  There is a fourth volume, which contains the Syriac.  I’ll worry about that when I get to it.


Michael the Syrian: preface to his history

The largest medieval Syriac Chronicle is that of Michael the Syrian, published with a French translation early in the 20th century by J. B. Chabot.  A single volume of this is online here.

The preface  survives only in an Armenian translation, also with French translation.  My memory is probably playing tricks on me, but I  have an uncomfortable feeling that I have translated this before.  But here it is (again?), from the French, which is online here.

Devoted and studious brothers, when I was considering the facts which it is important to know, in the great number of Chronicles, I refrained from going into detail about those which can be learned from the great number of existing accounts, and I have compiled, in the process, from ecclesiastical and profane writers what was useful and appropriate; so as to reveal this way the mortal laziness of many, and to enlighten the shadows of ignorance, lifting the sight towards the reward of my efforts.  I shall leave this treasure to the church, and to the Teachers of the children of the new Zion, so that it will survive after my time.

In first place we must place the first of all mankind, Adam, so that we start at the beginning.  This will be useful to those who speak and those who listen.  But first we must give the names of the historians from whom we propose to take the material of our edifice.

[Julius] Africanus, Jesus, Hegesippus, Jews, covered up to the coming of Christ.  Annianus, a monk of Alexandria, covered from Adam until the emperor Constantine.

Eusebius Pamphili composed his book with the help of their writings and called it Church History.

Zosimus, Socrates and Theodoret the heretic began their writings with Constantine and [went down] to Theodosius the Younger.

John of Antioch and of Djebel, Theodore Lector, of Constantinople and Zacharias, bishop of Melitene, covered from Theodosius to Justinian the Elder.

John of Asia covered from Anastasius to Maurice.

Gouria covered from Justinian to Heraclius, and on the invasion of the Arabs into the lands of the Syrians, which took place in the time of Heraclius.

Saint James of Edessa made an abridgement of them all.

Dionysius the patriarch covered from Maurice to Theophilus, emperor of the Greeks, and Haroun, emir of the Arabs.

Ignatius, bishop of Melitene, Saliba the Elder, of Melitene, John of Kaisoum and Dionysius (of Alexandria), Bar-Salibi, made several chronicles from Adam to their own times.

Now we have enumerated the chroniclers who, considering the studious disposition of listeners in their own times, wrote with rich colours, we who live in a lesser age, seeing our indolence, [will write] briefly passing rapidly over each of their accounts.

But studious men should not consume their energies in working out greater or lesser numbers in the computation of dates, because of the truth of the saying of the Saviour, “The Father has kept for himself the knowledge of times and dates.” In fact there seems a great deal of difference between the version of the Septuagint and that which the Syrians possess, that which king Abgar had translated, and which James of Edessa revised by using the artifice of a pretended conversion to Judaism, so that the Jews wouldn’t hide their information from him.