E.W.Brooks, Introduction to the CSCO edition of the Chronicle of James of Edessa (1907) CSCO 6, pp.197-8
Translated by E.W.Brooks
Fragments of this chronicle are preserved in Ms. British Museum Add. 14,685, which according to Wright was written in the 10th or 11th century. The author is named as Jacob Philoponus or “lover of work”, who is the same as Jacob of Edessa, so Wright believes, based on the comparison of excerpts of the work of Jacob of Edessa quoted by Michael the Syrian. The canon itself, which begins on folio 10r, is a continuation of the Chronicon of Eusebius of Caesarea; to it a preface is prefixed, in which the work of Eusebius is corrected and supplemented.
In the manuscript as we now have it, the fragments are disordered: fol. 12v should be read before 12r, and fol. 18v before 18r, folios. 11 and 13 come from one and the same folio, and likewise foll. 19 and 20; and two fragments which are contained on fol. 19 ought to be joined together.
The fragments go no further than the year 942 of the Seleucid era (= 631 AD), but the canon, as we learn from Michael 1, was continued until the year 1021 AS. Michael notes that Jacob himself died two years before, so that the last two years must be supposed to have been added by a pupil. But Elias of Nisibis 2 states that Jacob wrote the Chronicon in 1003 AS (=692 AD). If this is so, 18 years must be attributed to a continuator. The canon of years was copied by Michael, and so parts missing from the manuscript can be very easily replaced. Similarly that author quotes several passages completely from the preface which are mutilated in our manuscript. Also in Elias of Nisibis excerpts are quoted as testimonies, either from the preface, which he calls the Chronicon, or from the Canon itself, which we have used in editing the work.
Among the sources used for the canon are Socrates, Theodoret, the Chronicle of Edessa, John of Ephesus, the so-called History of Zacharias Rhetor, and perhaps catalogues of emperors, kings and bishops. In the preface, as well as the chronography of Eusebius, James used some Alexandrians, perhaps Anianus and Andronicus, and a catalogue, it seems, of the kings of Persia.
The start of the preface was translated in the catalogue by the most excellent Dr. Wright; the canon I myself in the year 1899 edited with an English translation and commentary: the text of the whole work is here translated for the first time. Many places, which in the previous edition of the canon were left lacunose or filled up wrongly, I have now filled and corrected from Michael. The layout of the manuscript both in the text of the canon and the translation I have been able to exactly imitate: in the translation I have filled in lacunas in the canon of years, but in the text it did not seem worth the labour to do so.
You may read a description of the manuscript in Wright, Catalogue of syriac MSS. in the British Museum, p. 1062-1064.
Editions: W. Wright, op.cit. p. 1062, 1063. London, 1872. Text of the exordium.
E.W.Brooks, The chronological canon of James of Edessa (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, Bd. LIII, p.261 ff and p. 550). Canon with English translation. – Cf. also ibid., p. 534 f. (notes by Sigismund Fränkel). – See also F. Nau, Notice sur un nouveau ms. de l’Octoechus de Sévère d’Antioche et sur l’auteur Jacques Philoponus ( Journal asiatique, ser. IX., tom. XII, p. 346 f.)
1 Ed. Chabot, p. 453.
2 British Museum Addit. Ms. 7197, f. 88r.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2009. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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