Meier, Mischa [Editor]; Radtki, Christine [Editor]; Schulz, Fabian [Editor]; Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften [Editor]
Malalas-Studien: Schriften zur Chronik des Johannes Malalas (Band 1): Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas: Autor - Werk - Überlieferung — Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2016

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The manuscript transmission
of Malalas’ chronicle reconsidered1

Elizabeth Jeffreys

Abstract The Chronographia of John Malalas has a complex transmission history. The one
apparently complete eleventh/twelfth-century Greek manuscript is shown by many witnesses
in Greek and other languages to contain an abbreviated text. Furthermore these witnesses also
suggest that several editions circulated during the sixth century. This poses editorial problems.
The paper discusses whether it is useful to examine this situation in the light of current debates
on the nature of medieval attitudes towards authorship and on modern editorial theory.
I included the word “chronicle” almost automatically in the title to this paper. But
this is questionable. The best witness to Malalas’ text refers to it as an εγκύκλιον, a
“report”;2 elsewhere it is referred to as a χρονογραφία, a “chronography”;3 the latest
discussion of this terminology that I am aware of considers that it should be called a
breviarium or epitome, that is, a “summary”.4 Probably the one thing we can be certain
of is that it is not a classicizing history. However, my default term when referring to
Malalas remains “chronicle”, and will continue to be used in this paper.
As we all know, the Greek text of the work attributed to John Malalas survives in a
more or less complete form in only one manuscript, produced some six centuries after
the putative date of the text’s final shaping. This manuscript is now held in Oxford’s
Bodleian Library as Baroccianus 182. However, the many other witnesses in Greek
from the sixth to the sixteenth century demonstrate just how incomplete the text in
this ostensibly complete manuscript is: the material in, for example, the Chronicon
Pasch ale, the Chronographia of Theophanes or the Constantinian excerpts all include,
at different points, alternative phrases or passages of varying length when compared
to the Baroccianus. The “incompleteness” is not just the result of physical defects in this
manuscript, though there are some missing folios - notably at the beginning and the
1 I should like to thank Professor Meier for the invitation to participate in the first workshop on the
Heidelberg Historical and Philological Commentary of the Chronicle of John Malalas, which proved
to be a learned and most enjoyable occasion. The text of this paper retains most of the markers of its
oral delivery.
2 Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Par. suppl. gr. 682, fol. gr-iqv, at cir, cited in Malalas, Chronogra-
phia, ed. Thurn, p. 4, title.
3 John of Damascus, Orationes de imaginibns tres, ed. Kotter, p. 171 (3, 68); see Croke, “The early develop-
ment of Byzantine chronicles”, p. 28.
4 Burgess/Kulikowski, Mosaics of Time, pp. 223-24.
© Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften