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James of Edessa, Chronicle.  Fragments and extracts


The following items are given at various points by Brooks in his various publications of the text.

From the head of the British Library manuscript

The manuscript contains some words from the version of Eusebius, at the top of folio 10:

the 1]9th [year] of Shabur, the 9th king of the kingdom [of the Persians]. But according to the era of the Greeks this first [year] is the year 637, and by the Olympiad reckoning it is the first year of the 276th Olympiad, and by the era of Antioch it is the year 374, and by that of Diocletian it is the year 42 1).

Constantine made his two elder sons, Constantine and Constantius, Caesars.

Extracts from the Chronicle of James of Edessa preserved in Elias of Nisibis

The history of Elias of Nisibis quotes James of Edessa for the following items not found in the BL manuscript.  These are given by Brooks in the ZDMG, and added to in the CSCO publication (pp.256-7).

1. (Year 27)  The year 664. This year a cross appeared in the sky in the East on the 5th of May.

2. (Year 87) The year 723. This year Rabbulo was appointed bishop of the Jacobites in the city of Edessa.

3. (Year 99) The year 735. This year Honorius, King of the Romans, died on the 15th day of August.

4. (Year 110) The year 746. This year Rabbulo, bishop of Edessa, died, and Hibo succeeded him.

5. (Year 125) The year 761. This year Theodosius, King of the Romans, died on the 11th day of July, and Marcian reigned after him.

6. (Year 132) The year 768. This year Marcian, King of the Romans, died on the 15th. day of January, and Leo reigned after him.

7. (Year 134) The year 770. This year Hibo, bishop of Edessa, died, and Nonnos succeeded him. (3)

8. (Year 150) The year 786. This year Leo, King of the Romans, died on the 11th day of January, aud Leo his daughter's son reigned after him for less than a year; and he died, and Zeno reigned after him.

(3) El. Nis. Chronicle of Edessa LXVIII gives the date as 769. In El. Nis. the notice is in a different hand to the rest and is absent in the Arabic version, while the name of the authority is in black instead of red,               

9. (Year 166) The year 802. This year Zeno, King of the Romans, died, and Anastasius reigned after him.

10. (Year 193) The year 829.  This year Anastasius, King of the Romans, died, in the month of Tammuz on the 9th day; and Justin reigned after him.

11. (Year 202) The year 838.  This year Justin, King of the Romans, died, in the month of Tammuz on the 9th day; and Justinian, the son of his sister, reigned after him.

12. (Year 250) The year 886. This year Justin the Caesar made Tiberius the Caesar partner in the kingdom on the 7th of December.

13. (Year 254) The year 890. This year Justin, King of the Romans, died on the 4th of October, and Tiberius reigned after him

14. (Year 257) The year 893. This year Tiberius, King of the Romans, died, and Maurice reigned after him.

15. (Year 278) The year 914. This year Maurice, King of the Romans, was killed, and his wife and his sons, on the 23rd of November: and Phocas reigned after him.

16. (Year 279) The year 915. This year the moon was eclipsed on the night of the fifth day of the week on the 16th of July.

17. (Year 285) The year 921.  This year Phocas, King of the Romans, was killed, and Heraclius reigned.

18.  (Year 306) The year 10 (of the Arabs).  This year Athanasius, patriarch of the Jacobites, died.

19.  (Year 314) The year 18. This year there was a severe pestilence throughout the districts of Syria.

20.  (Year 351) The year 56. This year appeared a terrible comet in the morning; and it began on the 28th day of August and lasted till the 26th day of October.

21.  (Year 360) The year 66. This year Psomiros (1), King of the Romans, came to the throne.

(1) Justinian II is meant, but the name clearly stands for Apsimar. Elijah or some earlier copyist took the name Tiberius Apsimar for two Emperors and substituted the latter name for Justinian which followed. The same error occurs in his list of Emperors (Brit. Mus. Add. MS 7197 fol. 11 r). 

22.  (Year 370) The year 75. This year there was a total eclipse of the sun on the first day of the week, the 5th of October, at the fifth hour of the day.

From Michael the Syrian.

In the year 1019 of the Greeks in July there was a sign, and that was stars which shot or moved about in the. air, which some men call falling stars. And they appeared in every part of the sky, moving about quickly and rapidly the whole night from the southern to the northern quarter, a thing never heard of before since the creation of the world. And learned and holy men, in particular James of Edessa 1 and Moses the son of Al Hugr, wrote with regard to them what was said at the time by those natural philosophers who teach that they are vapour, that is condensed air, and, when it ascends, it comes in contact with the fire above and is burnt. And then the questioner asked them, "Whence has all this condensed air ascended? And where is it concealed?" And they could not then return any answer at all, but were reduced to saying, "Whatever the Lord pleases he does." And the outcome of events showed that these shooting stars denoted the Arabs, who at this time entered the district of the North and slew and burnt and destroyed the district and its inhabitants.

1  i. e. the continuator. James died in June 708. This fact shows that it is the chronicle, not some other work of James, which is here quoted.

Addenda to the introduction

p. 262. According to Elias of Nisibis (fol. 88 r) the chronicle of James was written in AS 1003 (692).

p. 263. Elias of Nisibis also cites James for the death of Phocas and accession of Heraclius (AS 921), where his sentence is in a somewhat different form from that in our MS.


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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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