Zachariah of Mitylene, Syriac Chronicle (1899).  Book 12.



[Note to the online text: book 11 and the first 3 chapters of book 12 are lost from the manuscript.]

. . . earnestly [admonished] her not to do this in a vile manner and injure her spirit on account of the future righteous judgment. And she said to him, "How can I worship Him, when He is not visible and I do not know Him?" And after this one day, while she was in her park (and these things were in her mind), in a fountain of water which was in the park she saw a picture of Jesus our Lord, painted on a linen cloth, and it was in the water; and on taking it out she was surprised that it was not wet. And, to show her veneration for it, she concealed it in the head-dress which she was wearing, and brought it and showed it to the man who was instructing her; and on the head-dress also was imprinted an exact copy of the picture which came out of the water. And one picture came to Caesarea some time after our Lord's passion, and the other picture was kept in the village of Camulia, and a temple was built in honour of it by Hypatia, who became a Christian. But some time afterwards another woman from the village of Dibudin, mentioned above,1 in the |321 jurisdiction 2 of Amasia, when she learned these things, was moved with enthusiasm, and somehow or other brought one copy of the picture from Camulia to her own village; and in that country men call it "a0xeiropoi/htoj," that is, "not made with hands"; and, moreover, she also built a temple in honour of it. So much for these things.

In the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Justinian, the year three,3 a marauding band of barbarians came to the village of Dibudin and burned it and the temple, and carried the people into captivity. And certain earnest men, natives of the country, informed the serene king of these things, and begged him to give a contribution and to have the temple and the village restored (?) and the people ransomed. And he gave what he pleased. But one of the men attached to the king's person in the palace advised him to have the picture of our Lord carried on a circular progress through the cities by these priests, and a sum of money sufficient for the building of the temple and the village collected. And behold! from the year three until the year nine4 they have been conveying it about.5 And I believe that these things happened under the direction of Providence, because there are two comings of Christ according to the purport of the Scriptures, one in humility, which also took place five hundred and sixty-two years before this year nine, which is also the thirty-third of the reign of Justinian, and a future one in glory, which we are awaiting; and this same thing is a type of the progress of the mystery and picture and wreathed image of the King and Lord of those above and those below, which shall be quickly revealed. And, indeed, I admonish my own self and my brethren, since there is fear |322 of falling into the hands of God, that every man devote himself to affliction and penitence, for he shall be requited for his deeds; for the coming of our God, the righteous Judge, is already near; to whom with His Father and the Holy Spirit be glory. Amen.



In addition to all the evil and fearful things described above and recorded below, the earthquakes and famines and wars in divers places, and the abundance of iniquity and the deficiency of love and faith, which have happened and are happening, there has also been fulfilled against us and against this last generation the curse of Moses in Deuteronomy, when he admonished the people who had come out of Egypt, when they were just about to enter the land of promise, and said to them, "If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt not observe and do all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee this day, all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee"; 6  and a little further on he speaks thus: "The Lord shall give for the rain of thy land powder; and dust from heaven shall He send down upon thee, until He destroy thee. And He shall smite thee before thine enemies; and thy carcase shall be meat unto the fowls of heaven and unto the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no man to fray them away." 7

Such fearful things and more fearful things are coming; for in the year four,8 on the first Sabbath, which is the Sabbath before the feast of unleavened bread, the heavens above us |323 were covered with stormy (?) clouds, brought by the east winds, and instead of the usual rain and moistening water dropped upon the earth a powder composed of ashes and dust by the commandment of God. And it showed itself upon stones and fell upon walls; and discerning men were in fear and trepidation and anxiety, and instead of the joy of the Passover they were in sorrow, because all the things that are written had been fulfilled against us on account of our sins. Now it was the twenty-eighth year of this king.

Now, as regards the scope and sequence of the work, the book has brought us down in chronological order as far as the year four; but as to one chapter, concerning an event which happened here at the end of the year one,9 which before this year four we omitted, we have retraced our steps like men on the sea through the violence of the waves and record it briefly, it being as follows:



In the summer of the year one,10 when the year was now just drawing to an end, and a council of bishops was being held in the royal city, certain men, their representatives in the cities here, whose names I forbear to record, some of |324 them, as I think, acting out of jealousy (?) of spite, wrote to their bishops, who were sojourning in the West, in order to please them and also to gratify their ears, saying, "There are certain Schismatics, that is, dividers, in the district, and especially in the land between the Rivers, who are holding councils and are, as it were, attracting the whole people from one end to the other to join them, and are in separation from our Church." And the bishops there brought the communication which they had received before the king, and he ordered Audono (?) 11 the duke, who was at Hamimtho, to investigate the matter in conjunction with Basiliscus, a presbyter of Antioch; and they were to reconcile them, if willing, to the Church. And, while the matter so stood, Bar Korgis, a presbyter of Amida, joined them at Hamimtho; and he assembled the priests and the inhabitants of the villages in the district of the trench and put constraint on them, as 12 well as from the property, so to speak, of Dith, a believing man, who had lately died, and from Ingilene and Tzophanene. And, when these men reached the city of Amida, then they put pressure on the five chaste cloisters of monks there with the intention of ejecting them; and they spoke with them and listened to them. And they readily met them, and especially the gentle John the archimandrite, of whom we have mentioned 13 that he was providentially present, a Greek and a grammarian, and the earnest Sergius, their visitor; which men stood at their |325 head, supported by the learned and believing men, John and Sobbo, and Stephen, an archiatros of the city. And they did not expel the cloister societies of monks, but they retired to Izlo. And, since Peter, the master of. the offices, arrived in the year two,14 and heard from the monks about the threats made against them, he withdrew them. The duke he restrained from again expelling the monks, and censured him.



Now Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, as the Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea declares, two hundred and eighty years and more before the birth of our Lord, at the beginning of his reign, set the Jewish captives in Egypt free and sent offerings to Jerusalem to Izra'el,15 who was priest at that time; and he assembled seventy men learned in the law and had the Holy Scriptures translated from the Hebrew tongue into Greek; and he stored them up and kept them with him; for in this matter he was indeed moved by God, in order to prepare for the calling of the nations who should attain to knowledge, that they might be true worshippers of the glorious Trinity through the ministration of the Spirit.

Yet again about the space of one hundred and thirty years after him Ptolemy Philometor also was honourably moved and exerted himself, and by means of ambassadors and letters and presents, which he sent and dispatched to the rulers of the countries of the nations, he urged them to write down and send to him the limits of the lands under their sway and of the neighbouring peoples, and also a description of their habitations and their customs. And they wrote and sent them to him except the northern region extending to the East |326 and to the West. And we have thought it necessary to write it out here at the end for the understanding of the discerning. And the account is as follows:

[At this point follows an epitome of the geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus, whom our author has taken for an Egyptian king. As no good purpose would be served by publishing a translation of this section, I omit it. A portion of it is also contained under Zachariah's name in Add. MS. 14,620, fol. 28, with considerable variations from our MS. After the description of the province of Africa this MS. has the curious addition, "and they speak Syriac and Latin." There is another addition to Ptolemy in the notice of the Scenitae of Arabia Felix,16 where our author adds, "who are called Sabaeans," to which 17,202 further adds, "the same is Sh'ba," while in place of the Sabaeans, whom Ptolemy mentions lower down,17 our author has "the Ofirians, the same is Ofir." 18 These additions are of course due to our author himself or some earlier Christian translator; but there are others which point to a difference of reading. Thus in place of " 'Aqa&kai, Ai0qi/opej"19 he has "others who live in the water, who eat fruit," and to the notice of the Sachalites he adds, "from whence come pearls, and they sail on the water on bladders," an addition which in Nobbe's text of Ptolemy is printed as the note of a Scholiast.20 Again to the notice of the frankincense country in Ethiopia21 he adds, "thence comes beet." There are a few other places where our author throws some light on Ptolemy's text. Thus in place of the Pexi=noi 22 of Ethiopia he has "cubit-men," and, therefore, perhaps read Phxi=noi, while among the tribes of Arabia Felix in the place where Nobbe's text has Dwrhnoi/ 23 our author's reading [Syriac] (14,620, [Syriac]) shows that he read "Dwsarhnoi/," as in the text of |327 Montanus. Other variations from Ptolemy's text are probably due to carelessness or misunderstanding. There is, however, one peculiar variation, of which it is hard to see the origin, in the account of Taprobane, where our author has "and their women are deaf," the corresponding statement in Ptolemy being "[Greek]." 24 I continue the translation at p. 336, 1. 13, of Land's text.]

This description of the peoples of the world was made, as recorded above, by the exertions of Ptolemy Philometor and in the thirtieth year of his reign, one hundred and fifty years before the birth of our Saviour, so that the space of time from that day to the present, which is the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Justinian, the serene king of our days, the eight hundred and sixty-sixth year of Alexander, and the three hundred and thirty-third Olympiad,25 will be found to be a space of seven hundred and eleven years. In such a space of time, therefore, how many cities have been built and added among all peoples in the world from the time of Ptolemy down to the present day, and especially since the birth of our Saviour! And peace has reigned among nations and kindreds and tongues, and they have not observed their former custom, nor has nation stood up to make war or to use their swords against nation, nor have they contended in battle, in that the prophecy has been fulfilled in them which says, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks."26

And besides these there are also in this northern region five believing peoples, and their bishops are twenty-four, and their Catholic lives at D'win, the chief city of Persian Armenia. The name of their Catholic27 was Gregory, a righteous and a distinguished man. |328 

Further Gurzan,28 a country in Armenia, and its language is like Greek; and they have a Christian prince, who is subject to the king of Persia.

Further the country of Arran in the country of Armenia, with a language of its own, a believing and baptized people; and it has a prince subject to the king of Persia.

Further the country of Sisagan, with a language of its own, a believing people, and there are also heathens living in it.

The country of Bazgun,29 with a language of its own, which adjoins and extends to the Caspian Gates and sea, the Gates in the land of the Huns. And beyond the Gates are the Bulgarians with their own language, a heathen and barbarous people, and they have cities; and the Alans, and they have five cities; and the men of the race of Dadu (?), and they live on the mountains' and have strongholds; the Unnogur, a people living in tents, the Ogor, the Sabir, the Bulgarian,30 the Khorthrigor, the Avar, the Khasar, the Dirmar (?), the Sarurgur (?), the Bagarsik (?), the Khulas (?), the Abdel, the Ephthalite, these thirteen peoples dwelling in tents; and they live on the flesh of cattle and fish and wild beasts and by arms; and beyond them the tribe of the pigmies and of the dog-men, and north-west of them the Amazons,31 women with one breast each, who live entirely by themselves and fight in arms and on horseback; and there is no male among them, but, when they wish to pair, they go in peaceful fashion to a tribe near their country and hold intercourse with them for a month of days and return to their country; and, when they bear a child, if it is a male, they kill it, and, if it is a female, they preserve it alive; and in this way they keep up their Tanks. And the tribe which lives near them is the Harus (?), tall, big-limbed (?) men, who have no weapons of war, and |329 horses cannot carry them because of the bigness of their limbs (?). And to the east again verging on the north are three other black tribes.

Now in the land of the Huns about twenty years and more ago some men translated some books into the native tongue; and the origin of it, which the Lord brought about, I will relate as I heard it from certain truthful men, John of Rhesaina, who was in the monastery founded by Ishokuni close to Amida, and Thomas the tanner, who were carried into captivity when Kawad carried away captives fifty years and more ago. And, when they reached the land. of. the Persians, they were again sold to the Huns and went beyond the gates and were in their country more than thirty years; and they took wives and begot children there. But after about this space of time they returned and told us the story with their own mouths as follows:

After the coming of the captives from the land of the Romans, whom the Huns had taken away with them, and after they had been in their country for thirty-four years, then an angel appeared to a man named Kardutsat, bishop of the country of Arran, as the bishop related, and said to him, "Take three pious priests and go out into the plain and receive from me a message sent to thee by the Lord of spirits, because I am guardian of the captives who have gone from the land of the Romans to the land of the nations and have offered up their prayer to God. And he told me what to say to thee." And, when this same Kardutsat, which, when translated into Greek, is Theokletos,32 had gone zealously out into the plain and had . . , called upon God, he and the three4 presbyters, then the angel said to them, "Come, go into the land of the nations and warn the children of the dead, arid ordain priests for them, and give them the mysteries, and strengthen them; and behold! I am with you and will deal graciously with you there, and signs shall ye do there among |330 the nations, and all that is needed for your service ye shall find." And four others went with them; and in a country in which no peace is to be found these seven priests from evening to evening found a lodging and seven loaves of bread and a jar of water. And they did not enter by way of the Gates, but were guided over the mountains. And, when they reached the place, they told these things to the captives, and many were baptized, and they made converts among the Huns also. They were there for a week of years, and there they translated books into the Hunnic tongue.

Now at that time Probus happened to be sent on an embassy to those parts by the king, in order to hire some of them to meet the nations in war. And, when he heard from the Huns about these holy men and understood their story also from the captives, he was very eager and desirous to see them. And he saw them, and received a blessing from them, and showed them much honour before the eyes of those nations.

And our king, when he heard from them the facts recorded above, which the Lord so brought about, loaded thirty mules from the territories of the neighbouring Roman cities and sent them to them, and also flour and wine and oil and linen cloths and other commodities and sacramental vessels. And the animals he gave as a present to them, because Probus was a believing and a kindly man.

Now another Armenian bishop also, whose name was Maku (?), was stirred to emulation by such noble deeds and went out after two more weeks of years; and he was honourably moved and went to the country of his own accord and some of his priests with him. And he built a brick church and planted plants and sowed various kinds of seeds and did signs and baptized many. When the rulers of these nations saw something new happening, they admired the men and were greatly pleased with them and honoured them, each |331 one among them inviting them to his own district and his own people, and beseeching them to be his instructors: and behold! they are there to this day. And this same thing is a token of the mercies of God, Who cares for everyone that is His in every place. And henceforth it is the time which is placed in His own power, that the fulness of the peoples may come in, as the apostle said.33

For for one week of years the king of Persia also, as those who know relate, has separated himself from the eating of things strangled and blood, and from the flesh of unclean beasts and birds, from the time when Tribonian the archiatros came down to him, who was taken captive at that time, and from our serene king came Birowi, a perfect man, and after him Kashowi, and now Gabriel, a Christian of Nisibis. From that time he has understood his food, and his food is not polluted (?) according to the former practice, but rather it is blessed, and then he eats. And Joseph also, the Catholic of the Christians, is high in his confidence, and is closely attached to him, because he is a physician, and he sits before him on the first seat after the chief of the Magians, and whatever he asks of him he receives.

Out of kindness towards the captives and the holy men he has now by the advice of the Christian physicians attached to him made a hospital, a thing not previously known, and has given 100 mules and 50 camels laden with goods (?) from |332 the royal stores, and 12 physicians, and whatever is required is given; and in the king's retinue (?) 34 ...

[Note to the online edition: an index of names and things and an index of Greek words followed.  I have omitted these]

[Note to the online edition: footnotes have been moved to the end.  Footnotes concerned only with bits of Syriac and Greek have been omitted because of the time it would take to transcribe it.]

1. 6 In the lost beginning of the chapter (?).

2. 1 The word ... generally expresses metropolitan jurisdiction, so that the expression is equivalent to "in the province of Helenopontus."

3. 3 554-5

4. 7 561.

5. 8 There is perhaps a gap here, as Land marks, though it is not certain that there ever was anything written there. So also in the next line.

6. 1 Deut. xxviii. 15.

7. 2 Deut. xxviii. 24-26.

8. 3 556.

9. 2 Summer 553.

10. 3 553.

11. 4 This perhaps represents the Teutonic Audwin or Aldwin; or we might make the easy correction... for ..., and translate "Evodian."

12. 6 It is probable that something has here dropped out.

13. 10 In the lost portion. After this it is probable that something has been lost, since the following statements can hardly apply to John. In this case we may render "of whom we have mentioned that [. . . , and X.,] who was providentially present."

14. 2 553-4.

15. 4 El'azar is meant.

16. 1 Ptol. Geog. vi. 7. 21.

17. 2 Ibid. vi. 7. 23.

18. 3 Similarly in place of ... (vi. 7. 24) he has "the mountains of Ofir."

19. 4 Ptol. Geog, iv. 9. 3.

20. 5 Ibid. vi. 7. 11. Montanus prints it as part of the text, and so it is in the Athos MS. reproduced by Langlois. Wilberg brackets it.

21. 6 Ibid. iv. 7. 31.

22. 7 Ibid.

23. 8 Ibid. vi. 7. 23. ... is the reading of nearly all the MSS.

24. 2 Ibid. vii. 4. i.

25. 3 555. 

26. 5 Isa. ii. 4.

27. 6 Probably the word " first " has dropped out.

28. 1 I.e. Georgia or Iberia.

29. 3 I.e. Abasgia.

30. 4 This is probably a corruption or confusion, as the Bulgarians are said above to .have had cities. The people here meant are perhaps the "Bourou&goundoi" of Agath. v. 11.

31. 5 Cf. Strabo, xi. 5. 1.

32. 2 From Armenian kardal, to call, and Astuats, God.

33. 2 Rom. xi. 25.

34. 2 ... At this point the MS. breaks off, which makes it hard to tell the meaning of this word. ... Across the last page of the MS. some illegible words are written in another hand.

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2002.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts