Michael the Great

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Michael I (also known as Michael the Great) was the Syrian Orthodox patriarch from 1166-1199, when he died.

He was born in Melitene. Before being elected patriarch he was Superior of the Monastery of Barsauma in the region of Melitene.

He revised the Syrian Orthodox Pontifical, and edited the Life of Abhai, bishop of Nicaea. But he is most famous for composing the longest of all the Syriac world Chronicles, covering the period from Creation to his own times. A French translation of this exists. This work includes many documents from earlier times not otherwise preserved, and often splits into two or three columns of narrative on the same page. For the 7th and 8th centuries he made considerable use of the lost Ecclesiastical history by his predecessor Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (818- 22nd August 845 AD).

The preface of the Chronicle is lost, but preserved in an abbreviated Armenian translation of the work. The Syriac text in Chabot's publication is a facsimile of a handwritten text, and written very small. The original manuscript is in Aleppo and kept under guard; feelings are still sore about the manner in which Chabot was able to procure an unauthorised copy.


  • Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d'Antiche (1166-1199). Éditée pour la première fois et traduite en francais I-V (1899.1901.1905.1910.1924 Repr.1963).
  • Victor Langlois, Chronique de Michel le Grand, Patriarche des Syriens Jacobites, traduite pour la première fois sur la version arménienne du Prêtre Ischok (1868)
  • F[rancois] Nau, Sur quelques autographes de Michel le Syrien, in: Revue de l'Orient Chrétien 19 (1914) 378-397.



1. S. Brock, A brief outline of Syriac Literature (1997), p. 73.