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This invaluable eleven-volume set on the Chronicle of Michael the Great makes the scholarly resources on this unique manuscript available together for the first time. Now inaccessible, the Chronicle is the largest medieval chronicle known, and is available here for the first time in history as a facsimile copy of the original manuscript, as well as in a copy of the original Syriac, the French translation, an abbreviated Armenian recension, and Arabic versions. The Chronicle is one of the most important primary sources on the history of the Middle East, especially the period between the rise of Islam and the Crusades.
The universal history known as the Chronicle of Michael the Great (also known as Michael the Syrian), covering the creation until 1195 AD, is the largest medieval chronicle known. Cited by historians in a variety of contexts, it is considered one of the most important primary sources on the history of the Middle East, especially the period spanning from the emergence of Islam until the Crusades. As a further mark of its importance, some of the Chronicle’s sources are lost and Michael’s text is the only surviving witness of their contents. This remarkable 10-volume set, edited by George A. Kiraz, makes available to scholarship all the primary texts and translations of the Chronicle.
The original Syriac text was unknown to European scholarship until the end of the nineteenth century when a unique manuscript, dated 1598, was discovered in Edessa. The manuscript is now virtually inaccessible; however, Gorgias Press has acquired exclusive rights to publish a full facsimile of the original manuscript for the first time. This facsimile edition is volume 1 of the set. The volume is edited by Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim, with a foreword by Kiraz. The publication is based on digitization of the manuscript made by the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. In the late 1890s Jean-Baptiste Chabot prepared a French translation of the Chronicle with annotations and indices; these comprise volumes 2-4 of this set.
An Arabic version was made by John Shuqayr, Metropolitan of Damascus, in 1759 and survives only in a few manuscripts: The Sadad Codex (volume 5, edited by Silwanos Boutros Issa Al-Nemeh), the Jerusalem Codex (volume 6, edited by Severus Malki), and the Mardin Codex (volume 7, edited by Philoxenos Saliba Özmen).
In the thirteenth century, an Armenian epitome of the Chronicle was made by Isho' of Hasankeyf (d. 1247) and Vardan Areweltsi (d. 1271). It survives in two versions, both published in Jersualem by Tigran Sawalaneants in 1870 and 1871. These two editions are given here in full in volumes 8 I and 8 II. A French translation by Victor Langlois of Version I (but based on different manuscripts) is provided in volume 9.
Chabot's original edition of the Syriac text, not to be confused with the original facsimile in volume 1, is reproduced here in volume 10.
Scholars and students have at their disposal for the first time the entire corpus relating to the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian in one place.
George A. Kiraz is the founder and director of Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute, and the president of Gorgias Press. He earned an MSt in Syriac Studies from Oxford University, and an MPhil and PhD from Cambridge University. He has an extensive list of publications in Syriac studies.