Chronicle of 1234 Edessene Chronicle [Syr. Orth.]

The (anonymous) Chronicle of 1234 is a developed universal chronicle (maktbonuto d-zabne) first composed in 1204. From the reign of Constantine the Great onward the text is divided into a secular and an ecclesiastical history. After the concluding remarks for the year 1204, there are additional entries in the secular history up to 1234 (with some references extending to 1237), ending with a lacuna, and in the ecclesiastical history up to 1207, where the ms. breaks off. It is doubtful if these additions were made by the original author.

The text was preserved in a 14th cent. ms. the whereabouts of which are now unknown. In the 19th  cent. the ms. had been repaired by inserting new folia replacing damaged parts, although some parts were beyond repair. Chabot maintains that the text of the new folia was copied from the damaged 14th-cent. ms.

The original author was a younger contemporary of Patr. Michael Rabo (1166–99) and in 1173 was present at the patriarchal residence in the Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo. He also personally experienced the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, when Athanasios, the brother of Michael, was bp. of Jerusalem. He accompanied Maph. Grigorios, nephew of Michael, to Tagrit and the eastern dioceses in 1189 and seems to have been part of Grigorios’ entourage. He has detailed knowledge of the affairs of Michael and his family and is a staunch supporter of Michael. The author explicitly states that he will describe history as a succession of (religious) leadership from the first day of Creation to his own day, a succession of men, not of events. The Chronicle is based on the Eusebian model, but follows the later Syriac tradition in using many large narrative entries, sometimes even preserving the chapter structure of the sources. He, however, sometimes edits these sources. Although sharing many sources with Michael, the selection of material seems to have been made independently. He uses large fragments from the works of Eusebius (or rather an extended Syriac version), Pseudo-Zacharias, Yuḥanon of Ephesus, Dionysios of Tel Maḥre, Basil of Edessa, and other sources. He also uses pseudepigraphical material, especially for the time before Abraham, most notably from Jubilees and the Cave of Treasures. There are also traces of unknown Arabic sources.


  • A.  Abouna and J.-M.  Fiey, Anonymi auctoris Chronicon ad A. C. 1234 pertinens, II (CSCO 354; 1974). (FT of the second part)
  • J.-B.  Chabot, Anonymi auctoris Chronicon ad annum Christi 1234 pertinens, textus (CSCO 81–82; 1916–20) (Syr. Text); (CSCO 109; 1937) (LT of the first part).
  • J.-B.  Chabot, ‘Un épisode de l’histoire des Croisades’, in Mélanges offerts à Gustave Schlumberger, vol. 1 (1924), 169–79.
  • F.  Nau, ‘Traduction de la Chronique syriaque anonyme, éditée par … Mgr. Rahmani, patriarche des Syriens catholiques’, ROC 12 (1907), 429–40; 13 (1908), 90–99, 321–33, 436–43. (selected fragments)
  • A.  Palmer et al., The seventh century in the West-Syrian chronicles (TTH 15; 1993), 85–221.
  • A.  Rücker, ‘Aus der Geschichte der Jakobitischen Kirche von Edessa in der Zeit der Kreuzfahrer’, OC 32 (1935), 125–139.
  • A. S.  Tritton and H. A.  Gibb, ‘The first and second Crusades from an Anonymous Syriac Chronicle [down to the year 1234, as edited by J. B. Chabot]’, JRAS (1933), 69–101; 273–305.
  • E.-I. Yousif, Les chroniqueurs syriaques (2002), 205–37.

How to Cite This Entry

Jan J. van Ginkel , “Chronicle of 1234,” in Chronicle of 1234, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Jan J. van Ginkel , “Chronicle of 1234,” in Chronicle of 1234, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

van Ginkel, Jan J. “Chronicle of 1234.” In Chronicle of 1234. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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