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Preliminary Enquiries Concerning the Place of the Laterculus Malalianus Among the Chronicles of Late Antiquity

Author:

James Siemens

Cardiff UniversityNone
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Abstract

The chronicle played an important role in late antique historiography. It was, unlike a history, broad in scope, often serving to set local political or religious developments in wider context by means of annual entries that described events as they had happened through time and across different cultures. As deployed by Christian authors after Eusebius, however, concerned as such authors inherently were with time as the plane on which the divine will was enacted, chronicles took on an added theological dimension: one that would draw together concerns and motifs drawn from Judaism, and point, ultimately, to a future conditioned by the work of Christ. Of these, the sixth century Byzantine Chronographia of John Malalas represents a touchstone; the seventh century Latin Laterculus Malalianus, meanwhile, borrowing directly from it, amends the original text in favour of a new purpose of its own, while deepening any theological intent that had been present in the Chronographia immeasurably, and asserting a new future for humankind in Christ. Conceived in Greek but composed in Latin, and based on Irenaean soteriology set in an eschatological picture reminiscent of Ephrem the Syrian’s paradisical imagery, it is this combination of seemingly eclectic characteristics and its potential for yield across later historiography, exegesis, the Easter computus, and even cartography, that makes the Laterculus Malalianus a worthy text for study. The present paper serves merely to explore the lineaments involved in its composition, and suggests ways forward for further work.
How to Cite: Siemens, J., (2010). Preliminary Enquiries Concerning the Place of the Laterculus Malalianus Among the Chronicles of Late Antiquity. Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture. 4, pp.68–80. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/j.2010.10304
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Published on 15 Dec 2010.
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