MICHAEL THE SYRIAN, Jacobite patriarch of Antioch (1166-99), who wrote a universal chronicle in Syriac, covering events from the Creation until 1195. The main events of Michael’s life are known from the details he reports in his Chronicle (Chabot, 1899-1910, III, pp. 341-413); from the Syrian historian Bar Hebraeus (see EBN AL-ʿEBRI), who has preserved parts of the work which have otherwise disappeared (Abbeloos and Lamy, I, 1874, pp. 535-606); and from the Chronicon ad annum 1234 (Chabot, 1916; Abouna and Fiey, 1974). Michael was born in 1126 in Malaṭia (Melitene) and decided to embrace religious life at the monastery of Mār Barṣaumā, where he later became superior. In 1166, he was elected as Patriarch of the Jacobite Church (Chabot, 1899-1910, III, p. 480), a position he held until his death in 1199. His Chronicle, of which only one manuscript (dated Urfa, 1598) has survived, is subdivided into two or three columns—for secular history, ecclesiastical history, and anecdotes—and is written following Eusebius’s framework; it aims at presenting the succession of empires, with much information concerning the history of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Iran—for instance, persecutions under the Sasanian king Ḵosrow II (10.7); the 6th-century wars between Romans and Persians (10.8; see JUSTINIAN); or the reign of the Turkmen in Persia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, and Khorasan (14.4 and 15.9-10). One of its interests lies in the use of now lost works, such as parts of Yaʿqub of Edessaδs (d. 708 CE) Chronicle (Chabot, 1899-1910, III, pp. 122, 452), or John of Kaisoum’s ([d. 1171]) Chronicle, and it also refers to authors otherwise unknown. A translation into Armenian was made as early as 1248 (Langlois, 1868; Ghazikean, 1909; Tisserant, 1929, pp. 1716-17); another exists in Arabic (B.L., ms. Or. 4402), not yet studied (Coquin, 1993, p. 73; Graf, 1947, pp. 265-67, sec. 87).



J.-B. Abbeloos and T.-J. Lamy, Gregorii Barhebraei Chronicon ecclesiasticum, 3 vols., Louvain and Paris, 1872-77.

A. Abouna and J. M. Fiey, Anonymi auctoris chronicon ad AC 1234 pertinens II, CSCO354, Script. Syr. 154, Louvain, 1974.

J.-B. Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, patriarche jacobite d’Antioche 1166-119, 4 vols., Paris, 1899-1910 (Figure 1); new ed. Brussels, 1964.

Idem, Anonymi auctoris chronicon ad AC 1234 pertinens II, CSCO 82, Script. Syr. 37, Louvain, 1916.

Idem, Chronicon ad AC 1234 pertinens I. CSCO 81, Script. Syr. 36, Louvain, 1920.

Idem, Anonymi auctoris chronicon ad AC 1234 pertinens I CSCO109, Script. Syr. 56, Louvain, 1937.

R. G. Coquin, “Langues et littératures arabes chrétiennes,” in A. Guillaumont, ed., Christianismes orientaux, Paris, 1993, pp. 37-106.

R. Duval, La littérature syriaque, Paris and Amsterdam, 1907; repr., 1970.

A. Ghazikean, Nouvelle bibliographie arménienne et encyclopédie de la vie arménienne (en arménien) I, Venice, 1909, cols. 1996-2002.

G. Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur II, Studi e Testi 133, Vatican City, 1947.

F. Haase, “Die armenische Rezension der syrischen Chronik Michaels des Grossen,” Oriens Christianus 5, 1915, pp. 60-82, 271-84.

V. Langois, Chronique de Michel le Grand, patriarche des jacobites, Venice, 1868, and Jerusalem, 1870-71.

F. Nau, “Sur quelques autographes de Michel le Syrien,” Revue de l’Orient chrétien 19, 1914, pp. 378-97.

Idem, “Corrections et additions au catalogue des mss. syriaques de Paris,” JA, 11th ser. 5, 1915, pp. 489-91.

I. E. Raḫmani, Chronicon civile et ecclesiastical anonymi auctoris, Charfeh, Lebanon, 1904.

E. Tisserant, “Michel le Syrien,” in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (henceforth DTC),ed. A. Vacant et al., X, Paris, 1929, pp. 1711-19.

Idem, “Nestorienne (l’Eglise),” in DTC XI, Paris, 1931, pp. 157-323.

H. G. Zarbhanelean, Catalogue des anciennes traductions arméniennes, Venice, 1889, pp. 564-71 (in Armenian).

April 24, 2006

(Florence Jullien)

Originally Published: November 15, 2006

Last Updated: November 15, 2006