A Monophysite Byzantine chronicler of the sixth century, born at Antioch where he spent most if not the whole of his life. His surname Malalas, from the Syriac malâlâ, "the rhetor", points to a Syrian origin. John Malalas was a contemporary of Emperors Anastasius I, Justin I, Justinian I, and Justin II. His "Chronographia" if, for which he is famous, was originally but a chronicle of the city of Antioch, expanded later by the author himself into a general history of the world up to the last years of Justinian (d. 565). It is divided into eighteen books, the last of which, however, originally a chronicle of Constantinople, cannot be ascribed to John Malalas, being evidently the work of an orthodox writer. Giving up the Hellenic and Byzantine traditions John Malalas struck a new path in historiography, and created the type of the Byzantine chronicle. He wrote not for the cultured public but for the bulk of the lay-men and monks, seeking to gratify their naive curiosity in matters of history and narrating such facts only and in such manner as could interest the people. The "Chronographia" is uncritical and teems with legends, anachronisms, repetitions, and inconsistencies, and its style and language are in keeping with the nature of the concept of history it exhibits; it is the earliest important monument of low Greek. In spite of the many authors he so ostentatiously names, it is highly probable that, beyond the archives of the city of Antioch and the current ecclesiastical and civil calendars, John Malalas had but very few reliable written sources. If he used at all Julius Africanus, it must have been through the now lost chronicles of Nestorianus, Pausanias, Domninus, Theophilus, and Timotheus whom he frequently cites. John Malalas enjoyed great authority with subsequent generations of Byzantine chroniclers who quote him quite freely and often worked whole books ot his "Chronographia" into their own compositions. Such is tho case with John of Ephesus and through him Bar-Hebraus (two Syrian writers) the church historian Evagrius, the author of the "Tusculan Fragments", John of Antioch, and especially the author of the "Chronicon Paschale", John of Nikiû, the author of the "Chronicon Palatinum", Theophanes, George the Monk, Cedrenus, the author of the "Excerpta Constantiniana" and the authors of several similar compilations. John Malalas's work had the honour of a Slavonic translation (now lost) from which it passed into several Slavonic chronicles; it was also translated into Georgian. It is from those various sources that it was reconstructed, for strange to say for such a popular work, independently of the above-named writings it has been preserved only in a single manuscript (Baroccianus, 128, c. 12, Oxford, Bodleian Library ; mutilated at both ends) and that an the shape of an epitome. The "Chronographia" was first edited by Edm. Chilmead (Oxford, 1691), with a Latin translation and a commentary by the editor, a treatise of H. Hody, and a letter from R. Bentley to J. Mill. A new critical and complete up-to-date edition is highly desirable.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online