Syriac Timeline
9th & 10th Century

Syriac Timeline (801 A.D. - 1000 A.D.)




December 5th
804 AD & 25th November 805 AD

Lived the East Syrian Catholicos Timothy I, see above under AD 780. Civil and ecclesiastical canons created by Timothy were enacted in a second synod which occurred in this year, (AH 189, [50]). A large collection of 59 letters and some canons written by Timothy are preserved in Mingana Syr 587. The treatise by Timothy on ecclesiastical law dated AD 805 and another treatise on the soul can also be found in Mingana 47, sections jj and ll, [46].

[46], volume 1, column 1115, 1118-9
[50], pp. 603 note 4, 608 note 3

812 or 813 AD

Quriaqos or Cyriacus Patriarch of Antioch held another synod in Harran. The synodal canons are edited in [68].

[62], p. 6
[68], p. 17

817 AD

End of the see of Quriaqos or Cyriacus, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.

Bar Hebraeus, “Nomocanon”
[62], p. 6

c. 817 AD

Job of Edessa, (or Job al-Abrash) the East Syrian, teaches Syriac studies in Baghdad, and wrote 'The book of treasures', (essentially a Syriac encyclopedia).

[33], p. 212

817 AD, [68]

Dionysius Tell-Mahraya became Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. He sat until AD 845. He had been a student at the Monastery of Kenneshre and then at the Monastery of Mar Jacob at Kaisum in the district of Samosata. Dionysius wrote histories that preserved the Chronicle of Edessa and the chronicle of Joshua Stylite. He dedicated his historical work to Iwannis Patriarch of Dara, (see below).

Mar Dionysius held a synod in the city of Qalinicos during October AD 817 and the dated synodal canons are edited in [68]. The synodal letter contains a number of gospel quotations from an Old Syriac gospel, including Mt18v20, = ‘Where two and three are gathered in my name, there I am between them.’ see [68], p. 26 and compare the same variant quoted by Aphrahat who lived in the 4th century AD as edited by Wright, p. 69 lines 4, 6, 16 and p. 71 line 7. These quotations demonstrate that the Syrian Orthodox church was not only using the Peshitta version, but also Old Syriac gospels as authoritative texts in it's official documents even as late as the 9th century AD.

[24], p. 196 ff.
[33], p. 212
Hatch, “Album” p. 114
[62], p.7
[68], p. 25

819 AD

Jacob became patriarch of Alexandria. He sat until AD 836

Hatch, “Album” p. 114

820 AD

Died Theodore Abu Qurra, bishop of Harran. Abu Qurra was from Edessa and had been a monk at the monastery of Saba. He says of himself that he wrote both in Syriac and in Arabic. His Arabic works are extant and display clear Old Syriac gospel quotations [38] [24]. Interestingly, he tells us that he is quoting from the separate gospels because he explicitly mentions the end of Matthew's gospel in connection with one of his quotations. So we have here some evidence that the early Arabic gospels were translated from the Syriac Evangelion daMepharreshe, not from the Peshitta.

[38], pp. 158 – 159
[42], pp. 24, 53

Friday 9th January
823 AD

Died Timothy I, Catholicos of the East aged 95 years. He had been catholicos for 43 years and 7 months. (There is an uncertainty in [50] here due to conflicting information from the ancient sources, [53]. Either Timothy died on 9th January 824 after he had been catholicos for 43 years and 7 months, [50], or he died on 9th January 823, [50], after he had been catholicos for 42 years and 7 months.)

Timothy was succeeded as Patriarch by Isho` Bar Nun who ruled from Baghdad, Iraq, [53]. Isho` had been tutored by Mar Abraham bar Dashandad, 'The Crippled' of Bet Sayyada the celegrated teacher who taught him in the Upper Monastery at Mosul, [53].

[50], p. 603 note 5
[53], p. 189

823 AD
(AG 1134)

Date of the earliest extant MS containing the Philoxenian version of 1, 2 and 3 John, James, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude. Written in Egypt by Aaron, a monk from Dara, near Mardin, and presented 30 years later to the monastery of Theotokos in the Nitrian desert. Br. Lib. Add. 14623 and acquired from Nitria by the British Museum between 1839 - 47.

[34], pp. XXIII, XLIII

828 AD

Died the East Syrian patriarch Isho` Bar Nun. According to the Beth Gazza, he was succeeded by Giorgis, [Borgia Syr. 60 p. 532 column 2].

[46], volume 1, column 1212
[53], p. 189

fl. c. 830 AD

Iwannis (Syrian Orthodox) Bishop Metropolitan of Dara, (or John of Dara). Iwannis wrote (amongst other things) four books on the Priesthood. In these particular books, he quotes a large amount of Gospel text taken from an Old Syriac, gospel including variants not found in the Sinaitic or Curetonian manuscripts.

[24], pp. 200, 204f.
[38], p. 108

fl. c. 830 AD

Nonnos, a contemporary of Iwannis and an arch-deacon of the Syrian Orthodox Church at Nisibis wrote a theological treatise whilst in prison. From his treatise it can be seen that Nonnos used the Peshitta gospel text.

[24], pp. 205 – 206
[38], p. 109

830 AD

Died Basil, bishop of Tagrit.

Hatch 'Album' p. 114

832 AD

Sabhr-isho` II became East Syrian Catholicos, he sat until AD 836. In this same year, Thomas who was later bishop of Marga, entered the convent of Beth `Abhe.

[24], pp. 216, 219

837 AD

Abraham became East Syrian Catholicos and had Thomas as his secretary, promoting him to be bishop of Marga and afterwards metropolitan of Beth Garmai.

[24], pp. 206, 219
[63], vol. 1, p. x

fl. c. 837 to 858 AD

Thomas bishop of Marga and East Syrian metropolitan of Beth Garmai wrote his 'Historia Monastica' or 'Book of Governors' in the Monastery of Beth `Abhe at the request of a friend, the monk `Abhd-isho` about AD 840, [63].

According to Vööbus, [38] the Historia Monastica uses the Peshitta gospel text and there are only 'a small number of Old Syriac variants'. However, when the present author analysed all 36 gospel allusions found in the Historia Monastica, only 11 (i.e. 30%) agreed with the Peshitta. Furthermore, some of the other 25 gospel allusions contain outstanding variants consistent with an ancient Old Syriac gospel text, even older than the Sinaitic and Curetonian codices. For example on page 380, line 10 of the Syriac text, [63] Thomas quotes from John 17v21, 'As that I and you my Father we [are] one'. The theology underlying this reading is very different to that which lies behind the reading found in the Sinaitic Old Syriac codex and in the Peshitta; 'As that you my Father [are] in me and I [am] in you.' It is tempting to see Thomas' words as a misquotation from memory, but a wider examination of his quotations shows otherwise. For example, in the Sinaitic and Curetonian Old Syriac codices and the Peshitta of Luke 15v7, 10 Yeshu`a allegedly said either 'there will be joy in heaven' (v7) or 'there will be joy before God's angels' (v10) but in [63], p. 349 Thomas quotes Yeshu`a in a different way. He says, 'The angels who are in heaven rejoice'. A misquotation? No, not at all. This same text was alluded to as early as the 4th century AD by Aphrahat, (Wright, p. 276) and by Ephrem Syrus, (Leloir, CSCO vol. 180 quotations 544, 546 with others). Thus, the Historia Monastica enables us to enter the Monastery of Beth `Abhe and look over Thomas' shoulder at his familiar gospel text. In his gospel codex we can see glimpses of an ancient gospel text, quite unlike that found in the Peshitta or in the Greek and one having it's own distinctive text type and theology.

[24], pp. 205 – 206, 220
Budge, “Paradise” 1904 p. viii
[38], pp. 115 – 116
[63], vol. 1, pp. x, xi, 349, 380

845 or 846 AD

Ephraem Stylite from the village Kephar-Tauetha near Zeugma copied a manuscript BL. Add. 12153 partly using Serta, and partly using the Estrangela Syriac script.

Hatch, “Album” p. 152

845 AD

Dionysius Tell-Mahraya Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch died on 22nd August AD 845 and he was buried in the Monastery of Kenneshre, [24]. In November AD 846 a synod was held in the Monastery of Mar Shila in the region of Serug and during this synod, Yohannan (John) III was elected as his successor, [62]. He sat until AD 873, [62].

[33], p. 212
[38], p. 108
Hatch, “Album” pp. 114, 156
[62], p. 7


Start of the reign of the Caliph al-Mutwakil who began a systematic ideological attack on the Christians in Iraq. He also outlawed and began persecuting a number of Islamic schools including the Sufis who had engaged with Christians and debated their ideas in a constructive way. This caliph died in AD 861.

[60], p. 88

850 AD

End of the see of Abraham, Eastern Catholicos.

[24], p. 206

852 AD

Theodosius (who was the natural brother of Thomas b. of Marga) became East Syrian Catholicos. Prior to his elevation he was bishop of al-Anbar (also known as Piruz-Shabor, [65]) and then metropolitan of Gunde-Shabhor.

A rival of Theodosius for the post of Catholicos was Isho`dad of Merv, bishop of Hedhatta. Isho`dad wrote commentaries on each book of the Peshitta New Testament and (at least) Genesis and Exodus in the Old. There are some Old Syriac relics in his work which he inherits from older authors, but in general his great work demonstrates the decline of the Old Syriac gospel text type in use amongst the East Syrian clergy. Nevertheless, Isho`dad makes some interesting comments about the Diatessaron in the prologue to his commentary upon Mark. He says, (I translate from the Syriac): ‘Tatianos who was the disciple of Justianos the philosopher and martyr, he selected from the four evangelists. And he mixed [them] and set down the gospel. And he called it "Diatessaron," that is "The mixed". And upon the divinity of the Christ he did not have cause to write. And Mari Ephrem commented to this.’

Isho`dad implies from his remarks that the Diatessaron had an Arian or low christology. This remark is not born out by the fragments of the Diatessaron which survive. Isho`dad's comment and the way he occasionally quotes excerpts from the Diatessaron in his commentaries of the gospels and Acts suggest that he had no complete copy of the Diatessaron to study. On the other hand, Isho`dad often quotes verbatim from a copy of Ephraem's commentary. This suggests that Ephrem's critical analysis was his primary window upon the Diatessaron. So, despite what he tells us about his strenuous efforts to locate manuscripts, it would seem unlikely that Isho`dad found even a single copy of the Diatessaron. This demonstrates the scarcity of Diatessaron manuscripts by the mid 9th century.

[24], pp. 206, 220
[65], p. 103

858 AD

End of the see of Theodosius, Eastern Catholicos. According to the Beth Gazza, he was succeeded by Sargays of Nisibis, and next by Mari Anush who was from Beth Garmai and next by John IV bar Narsay who appears below under AD 893, [Borgia Syr. 60 p. 532 column 2 – p. 533 column 1].

[24], p. 206

861 AD

Severus, a monk who lived in the monastery of Barbara in the hill of Edessa during the days of Johannan the Patriarch wrote a catena patrum, that is to say, a collection of sayings by the church fathers. The compilation was completed in AD 861. This work contains gospel quotations using the Peshitta text.

[38], p. 113

c. 863 AD

Moshe bar Kepha was born in Balad in about AD 813. He was taught from his early youth by Rabban Cyriacus who was abbot of the convent of Mar Sergius near Balad where Moshe became a monk. Later he became Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul, Beth Kiyonaya and Beth Raman and took the name Severus. He sat for 40 years until his death in AD 903. Moshe was a prolific Syriac author, but his principal work was his commentary upon the bible. Fragments of his gospel commentaries are preserved in only two European MSS; BL Add. 17274 and Cambridge Syr. 1971 and in a single Harvard MS, Syr 41. In these he quotes the Peshitta text. He also wrote metrical homilies which also contain gospel quotations. It is noticeable that some of the shorter quotations in his homilies were taken from an Old Syriac gospel source.

[24], p. 207 f.
[38], p. 109

873 AD

Died Honain ibn Ishak al-`Ibadi of Herta who was born in AD 803. He was a Syriac speaking Arab from Al-Hira who belonged to the Church of the East. He was a famous physician, an eye specialist and also a master translator of Persian, Greek and Syriac works into Arabic. He taught methods of collating sources and translation technique which were essential to the accurate transmission of knowledge. Honain also invented a scientific and philosophical terminology for the Arabic language, this too was essential for the understanding and transmission of knowledge.

[24], pp. 211, 215
[46], volume 1, column 501
[60], p. 84

873 or 874 AD

Died Yohannan (John) III, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. [62] has AD 873.

Hatch, “Album”, p. 156
[62], p. 7

June 5th
878 AD

Ignatios was elected Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch during a synod held at the Monastery of Mar Zakkai near Qalliniqos. He sat until AD 883.

[62], p. 8

887 AD

Romanus the physician, a monk from Kartamin was elected as Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, ([24] says Amid) and took the name Theodosius. He wrote a commentary on a work called 'Pseudo-Hierotheos' which he dedicated to Lazarus, bishop of Cyrrhus. Both Theodosius' commentary and the book he commented upon, quote many times from the Diatessaron gospel harmony. The textual pattern of the gospel quotations has been ascertained from agreements with earlier Diatessaron witnesses, from the free harmonizations found and also from some non-canonical elements only found in the Diatessaron. Theodosius died in AD 896. He was succeeded by Dionysios in the same year, [62].

[24], p. 206
Marsh, “Hierotheos” 1927
[62], p. 8

c. 880 - 890 AD

Flourished the distinguished Syrian lexicographer Isho` Bar `Ali Arabic name, Isa ibn `Ali who was a pupil of Honain ibn Ishak al-`Ibadi of Herta the famous physician, (Honain died in AD 873). An example of his lexical work based upon earlier lexicographers can be found in Mingana Syr 474. Isho` Bar `Ali also created a new Syriac recension of the Diatessaron by vulgarizing its readings using the Peshitta. This vulgarized Syriac recension was used later in the 11th century to create the Arabic Diatessaron, (see below, under AD 1043).

[24], pp. 211, 215
Petersen “Diatessaron”, pp. 135 – 136

893 AD

The East Syrian Catholicos John IV bar Narsay, who is mentioned in the Beth Gazza, [Borgia Syr. 60 p. 533 column 1] appointed his nephew, Theodore bar Koni as bishop of Lashom. Theodore authored a book of scholia on the scriptures, (published by CSCO from 1910 onwards) and an ecclesiastical history.

According to the list of patriarchs in the Beth Gazza, John IV was succeeded by Yuwannis and then by John bar Abgar, (see below under AD 900).

[24], p. 222.

896 AD

Died Theodosius Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch. During a synod held at the Monastery of Mar Shila of Serug, Theodosius was succeeded by Dionysios in April of the same year, [62].

[62], p. 8

900 AD

John bar Heghire [24] also known as John V bar Abgare [52] became East Syrian Catholicos. He sat until his death in AD 905, [52].

[24], p. 230
[52], p. 63

903 AD

Died Moshe bar Kepha, Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul, Beth Kiyonaya and Beth Raman. After he became bishop, he was known as 'Mar Severus'.

[24], p. 208
[38], p. 109
Hatch 'Album', p. 186

905 AD

Died John bar Heghire, also called John V bar Abgare, East Syrian Catholicos, he was succeeded by Abraham. Abraham sat until AD 936 or 937. The ancient sources of this data are Bar Hebraeus, from his 'Chron. Eccl.' and the MSS of the Mingana collection, [46].

[24], p. 230
[46], volume 1, columns 925, 1120

22nd March 914 AD

Kristophoros was ordained as Mar Sargis, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of the Mar Matti Monastery in Persia. The date given is 22nd of the month Adar in the year 303 AH. This occurred during the tenure of Denha, Maphrian of the East and Yohannan bishop of Mar Matti and Huran who was Abbot of the same monastery.

[62], p. 10

c. 922 AD

Flourished Elias of Anbar, the East Syrian bishop of Peroz-Shabhor, (the older name of Al-Anbar, see [65]). He corresponded with Catholicos Abraham. He wrote a collection of metrical homilies, an apology, letters and some prose discourses. There is a legible photograph in the BFBS catalogue of two pages from his collection of memre upon knowledge and wisdom called the 'Duresha'. Other MS of this work; One dated AD 1554 can be found in Jerusalem, [65] another of the 16th century can be found at Alqosh, MS152, [66]. There is also an edition of the Duresha by Juckel A, CSCO vols 559, 560 published by Peeters 1996.

[24], pp. 228, 230
BFBS manuscript 449 dated 1733. See BFBS catalogue p. 215
[65], p. 103
[66], part 2, p. 78

932 AD

Moses of Nisibis, (906 - 943 AD) had a library of over 250 manuscripts. There was also a large library at Dayr al-Suryan in the Monastery of Theotokos of the Syrians in the desert of Scetis, (lower Egypt). Many of the surviving MSS were bought by the British Museum in two batches, the first in 1842. These MSS form the majority of the Syriac MSS now in the British Library.


937 AD

Died Abraham, East Syrian catholicos. According to the Beth Gaza, [Borgia Syr. 60 p. 533 column 1], Abraham was succeeded by Emmanuel. and then (in AD 961) by Israyel Karkaya.

[24], p. 230

c. 945 AD

Emmanuel the Catholicos of the East appointed George metropolitan of Mosul and Arbel. George's chief work was an exposition of the ecclesiastical offices for the whole year, written in seven sections, (these have been published by Connolly R. H., CSCO 2 vols. 1912, 1913 and another in 1915). George also wrote Turgame which can be found in Vat. Syr. 150 and 151 and in Berlin Sachau 167 section 2.

[24], p. 231

961 AD

Israyel Karkaya was elected Catholicos of the East.

[24], p. 230

963 AD

`Abhd-Isho` I was elected East Syrian Catholicos. He sat until AD 968.

Present at his consecration was Emmanuel bar Shahhare. Also known as Emmanuel of Mosul, [65] he was the teacher in the school of Mar Gabriel in the convent of Daira `Ellaita (the 'Upper Monastery') at Mosul. He died in AD 980. He wrote 28 metrical discourses upon the six days of creation called the 'Hexaemeron'. This work survives in many manuscripts (see the oldest MS dated 1288 in [65]) and includes gospel readings from the Peshitta as well as a significant number of Old Syriac readings and even some Old Syriac variants not found in the Sinaitic and Curetonian Old Syriac gospel manuscripts, [38].

Also present at `Abhd-Isho`'s consecration was the scholar Isho` bar Bahlul, whose Arabic name was Abu 'l-Hasan 'Isa ibn al-Bahlul. Bar Bahlul created an important Syro-Arabic lexicon. MSS copies of his lexicon can be found in Mingana MSS Syr 249 B and 571.

[24], pp. 228, 230 – 231
[38], p. 117, 139
[65], p. 124

969 AD

The Greeks recaptured Antioch from the Muslims. Afterward, Antioch became a centre for the Melkite Christians in Palestine. The gospels and other parts of the NT originally used by the Melkites were written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic, (CPA). CPA is a dialect of western Aramaic, similar to the Samaritan and Jewish Palestinian dialects which were current before the Muslims invaded Palestine. CPA has its own distinctive semi cursive script, which looks like an Estrangela written with much squarer letters

Hatch 'Album', pp. 249, 250

979 AD

Died Rabban Joseph Busnaya in the East Syrian monastery of Rabban Hormizd situated near Alqosh. Around this time, Joseph's biography was written by one of his disciples, Johannan or John bar Kaldun. The biography is long, 242 folios [46] or about 200 folios, [66] and in it Johannan quotes the gospel text from an Old Syriac manuscript. Examples of Old Syriac readings, one of Lk17v21 and another of Jn3v16 have been edited from MS Orient 9387 by Vööbus, [38], pp. 137, 197. The Syriac text of this biography may not have been edited, but a French translation is available published by J-B Chabot in Revue de l'Orient chrétien; 2 (1897) pp. 357-409; 3 (1898) 77-121, 168-190, 292-327, 458-480; 4 (1899) pp. 384-414; 5 (1900) pp. 118-143, 182-200 and again by Placide Deseille, 'L'evangile au désert', Paris 1965, pp. 213-267.

[38], pp. 137 f., 197
BL MS Orient 9387 of the 19th cent.
Mingana Syr. 66 dated 1893, [46], col. 168
Alqosh Syr. 95, (Scher, [66], part 2, p. 61)

987 AD

Mari bar Tobi, Atoraya or 'The Assyrian' was elected Catholicos of the East. According to the Beth Gazza, Mari was succeeded by Iwannis III.

[24], p. 231

c. 990 AD

John was bishop of the convent of Qartamin in Tur `Abdin at the end of the 10th century AD, (source Barhebraeus). At this time, John revived the Estrangela script which was used for copying manuscripts once more.

Hatch 'Album' p. 26