Socrates Scholasticus: the Manuscripts of the "Church History"

The Church History of Socrates Scholasticus is a continuation of the Church History of Eusebius of Caesarea.

The current critical edition is that of Hansen (1995).  Before that the last edition was the Oxford edition of W. Bright (1893), reprinting the text of Husset (1853).  Translations into any language other than English have been few.



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /


Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana  Shelfmark: Plut. 69, 5. Parchment, 290 leaves, 21 x 28.2 cms.  35 lines to the page.  Socrates is fol. 1r-190v.  Following Socrates is the Church History of Evagrius Scholasticus.  In format and bookhand, the volume is identical to the Laurentianus 70, 20 containing Eusebius, Church History (siglum=E in Schwartz), and therefore the two present volumes were originally one manuscript, divided by the bookbinder at the library.

On the front leaf is an inscription which tells us that in the 13th century it was the property of the Abbey of St. Michael at Sosthenion and the gift of an emperor.  On the reverse of this leaf is a table of contents; the list of chapters of book 1 is missing, however.

The ms. was already known to H. de Valois, by means of a collation, and used for his edition of 1668.  Hussey in 1853 also had a collation. 

Four copies of this ms. are known, some of which themselves have been copied.


P Patmos Shelfmark: Patmiacus 688.  Paper.  217 leaves.  Socrates is f.1-131v, and followed by Evagrius.  A copy of F.


C Alexandria Shelfmark: Alexandrinus 60.  Until 1928, the ms. was in Cairo where it was Cairo 86.  Paper.  447 leaves.  Socrates is on p.247r-394v.  A copy of F.


Venice, Biblioteca Marciana Shelfmark: Marcianus gr. 339 (coll. 916).  Paper.  282 leaves. Originally from Athos, and then in the collection of Cardinal Bessarion.  After Eusebius HE, Vita Constantini and Laus Constantini follows Socrates on f. 180r-281r.  Copy of C.

Middle of 14

Venice, Biblioteca Marciana Shelfmark: Marcianus gr. 337 (coll. 691).  Parchment.  370 leaves.  Socrates on f. 228v-310r.  Copy of F.

Middle of 15

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale Français Shelfmark: Paris. gr. 1443.  Paper. 244 leaves.  Written by one Constantinos. Copy of Marcianus gr. 337.


Madrid, Escorial Shelfmark: Scorialensis gr. 295 (y-I-2).  Paper.  520 leaves.  Socrates on f. 1-208.  Copy of Marcianus gr. 337.


Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Shelfmark: Plut. 69, 7.  Parchment.  29 leaves.  Contains only the start of the Socrates text.  Copy of F.


M Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana Shelfmark: Plut. 70, 7.  Parchment.  391 leaves.  27.5 x 35 cms.  Written in two columns with 34 lines per page.  Socrates is on f. 188r-391v, following the Church History of Eusebius (=ms. T in Schwartz' edition).  Written in Constantinople.  A copy of this ms. is known.


Rome, Biblioteca Vaticana Shelfmark: Barberini gr. 591.  Paper.  7 pages.  Only an extract.  Copied from M.


A Athos Shelfmark: Athos 2559, Xeropotamu 226.  Paper.  293 leaves.  26 lines per page.  Socrates is on f. 57r-293v, following an incomplete version of the Chronicle of Michael Glykas.  Socrates is also incomplete.  Written in a clear 14th century hand which Hansen identifies with that in the Urbinas gr. 126 (a copy of works by Libanius, dated 1315-16, possibly written by Nicholas Triclinius).


In addition short extracts from Socrates can be found in a number of manuscripts:  

The indirect transmission

Socrates is quoted extensively in the manuscript of Theodoros Anagnostes, containing three-quarters of the first two books.  This work is extant in a single manuscript:



Shelfmark & Notes

Date /


Venice, Biblioteca Marciana  Shelfmark: Marcianus gr. 344 (coll. 917).  Paper.  22.5 x 31 cms.  Around 30 lines per page.  From the library of Cardinal Bessarion.  The so-called Historia Tripartita is on f. 1-136, followed by Sozomen, Church History, books 5-9.

13 (end) 

The translations

As might be expected, Socrates was translated into several languages.  

Material was used to compose the Latin Historia Tripartita by Epiphanius, working for Cassiodorus.  Readings from it are similar to those in M, F and A.

A translation into Armenian was made which is very close to the Greek.  Two recensions exist.  The longer and fuller version became known in Russian as "Great Socrates"; an abbreviated version as the "Short Socrates".  No critical edition of either exists.  A non-critical 1897 edition by Ter-Movsesean exists.  Mss. of the long version exist in Venice at the Mechitarist monastery at San Lazaro; two mss. exist in Jerusalem which were collated for an 1898 publication, and which have a colophon dating the making of the translation to 696 AD; and an ms. exists in private hands.  Ms. 1531 of the Matenadaran in Yerevan is a copy of the long text, dated to 1289.  The Armenian text shares lacunas with M, F, A and T.  There are also interpolations in the Armenian text.

A Syriac translation was made.   Vaticanus Syr. 145 (c.9-10) on f.22v-65v contains extracts from books 1-5.  This is followed by a portion of Theodoret book 2, and then further extracts.  Another manuscript is in London, Wellcome Institute Library.  7-8th century.  This contains the beginning of what is clearly a full Syriac translation of Socrates, but today is only book 1, 1-7:2.  Excerpts from Socrates can be found in the following Syriac mss: British Library Add. 12154 (c.8-9), Add. 12155 (c.8), Add. 14602 (c.6-7), Add. 14725 (c. 10-11), Add. 17147 (c. 8-9).  The Syriac text was used by a Nestorian Church history covering the 4-5th century; the anonymous Chronicle of the year 775 in the palimpsest Vaticanus syr. 162 (c.9); the Maronite chronicle of the year 664; the Chronicle of 846; and Michael the Syrian, who used books 7 and 8 in the year 1195.

Early Editions

The text was first published by Robert Estienne (Stephanus) in 1544 in Paris, together with Sozomen, using Ms. Paris gr. 1443.  It was translated into Latin by Wolfgang Musculus for Froben of Basle in 1549; and two years later and rather better by John Christopherson (Lowen 1569, Koln 1570), who also collected and printed variants.  In 1612 the text of Stephanus was reprinted.  Henri de Valois (Valesius) printed a new edition of Socrates and Sozomen in 1668 using more manuscripts to improve the text of the editio princeps.  A version of this was printed in Cambridge in 1720 by W. Reading.  This was reprinted by Migne in the Patrologia Graeca 67 (1864).  The last edition was that of Robert Hussey in Oxford in 1853.  Curiously it was reprinted in 1992.  It was reprinted by W. Bright in Oxford in 1878, 2nd edition 1893.  

Translations into Modern Languages

These have been few.  A French translation by M. Cousin appeared in Paris in 1675.  A Polish translation by S. Kazikowski appeared in Warsaw in 1972.  An English translation by M. Hammer appeared in London in 1619; another by E. Walford in London in 1844, and finally the NPNF translation by A. C. Zenos in New York, 1890.


G. C. Hansen, Sokrates: Kirchengeschichte.  GCS N.F. 1, Berlin: Akademie Verlag (1995) p.ix-xx.  Checked.  The details above are abbreviated from this.

P. Peeters, A propos de la version arménienne de l'historien Socrate, Melanges Bidez (1934) p. 647-675; reprinted in P. Peeters, Recherches d'histoire et de philologie orientales I, Brussels 1951 (Subsidia hagiographica 27) p. 310-336.  Not checked.

A. Allan, Syriac fragments in the Wellcome Institute Library, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1987, p.43-7.  Not checked.

The Armenian adaptation of the Ecclesiastical history of Socrates Scholasticus commonly known as "The shorter Socrates"; translation of the Armenian text and commentary by Robert W. Thomson, Leuven, 2001.  Not checked.

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 15th June 2010

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