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E00128: The Armenian History, written in Armenian and attributed to Sebeos in the 7th c., recounts the construction of the Church of *Gregory the Illuminator (converter of Armenia, S00251) by Marzpan Smbat Bagratuni.

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posted on 01.11.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
The Armenian History attributed to Sebeos, Chapter 27:

The chapter recounts the story of yet another battle of Marzpan Smbat Bagratuni with his and the Persian Shah's common enemy, followed by a great victory. Due to this victory, Smbat was greatly honoured by the Shah who granted him all his wishes and requests.

Արդ՝ խնդրէ նա հրաման յարքայէն շինել զեկեղեցի սրբոյն Գրիգորի, որ էր ի Դուին քաղաքի: Եւ վասն զի վախճանեալ էր Մովսէս կաթուղիկոսն երանելի, եւ ոչ գոյր վարդապետ ի տեղւոջն յայնմիկ՝ եւ եւս փութացաւ խնդրել յարքայէն հրաման. եւ հասեալ հրաման յերկիր իւր՝ առնէ խնդիր վասն աթոռոյն մեծի, զի կարգեսցեն ի վերայ նորա տեսուչ խնամող եկեղեցւոյն եւ առաջնորդ փրկութեան իւրոյ: Եւ նստուցին զԱբրահամ զՌշտունեաց եպիսկոպոսն յաթոռ հայրապետութեան: Ապա սկսան արկանել հիմն եկեղեցւոյն. ժողովեաց ճարտարապետս քարի, եւ կացոյց ի վերայ նոցա հաւատարիմ գործակալս, եւ հրաման ետ փութանակի հասուցանել ի կատարումն:

Եւ գրեալ գիր ամբաստանութեան բերդակալին եւ մարզպանին առ արքայ, եթէ «Կարի մերձ է առ բերդն, եւ վնասակար է ի թշնամւոյ»: Հրաման հասեալ յարքայէ, եթէ «Բերդն քակեսցի, եւ եկեղեցին անդրէն ի նմին տեղւոջն շինեսցի»: Ամէն:

'Then he [Smbat] requested permission from the king to [re-]build the church of St Gregory which was in the city of Dvin. Because the late Catholicos Movsēs had died, and there was no vardapet in that place, he hastily sought permission from the king. When the permission reached his country, he then made a request concerning the supreme cathedra, that they might appoint to it a bishop as guardian of the church and primate of its salvific role. They installed Abraham, the bishop of Rshtunik', on the patriarchal throne. Then they began to lay the foundation of the church. He gathered master-stonemasons and set over them reliable superintendents, and commanded them to bring it to a rapid conclusion.

The commander of the fortress and the marzpan wrote a letter of complaint to the king, declaring: ‘It is very close to the fortress and there is danger from an enemy.’ The order came back from the king: ‘Let the fortress be demolished, and the church built in that very spot.’ Amen.'

Text: Abgaryan 1979, 99-100. Translation: Thomson and Howard-Johnston 1999, 48-49.






History

Evidence ID

E00128

Saint Name

Gregory the Illuminator, Converter of Armenia : S00251

Saint Name in Source

Գրիգոր

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

660

Evidence not after

661

Activity not before

615

Activity not after

615

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Sebēos

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Aristocrats Monarchs and their family

Source

The History attributed to Sebeos is one of the rare extant Christian chronicles from the 7th century. It was written near the end of the first phase of the Islamic conquest, when hopes temporarily rose among the Christians that the Islamic occupation would soon be over. Sebeos' task was to chronicle the events that, according to him, led to the disaster of the Islamic invasions. In a familiar Armenian tradition, he depicts himself as a continuator of earlier history writers, and sets out to connect his History with his immediate predecessor, Łazar P'arpec'i. Sebeos' principal interest lies in the reign of the Sasanian king Khosrow II (590-628). Sebeos' History is an important work, as he does not confine himself to a narrow account of affairs purely Armenian, but elaborates on the historical context and the influence of the mutual relations between Sasanian Iran and the East Roman empire on Armenia proper. Contrary to Movsēs Xorenac'i and other hellenophile authors, Sebeos considers Armenia an integral part of the Persian world and choses a Sasanian perspective. Therefore, Sebeos effectively chronicles the demise of the Sasanian empire, with a particular interest in the campaigns of Heraclius and the rise of Islam.

Discussion

The rebuilding of the Church must have occurred during the reign of the locum tenens of the Armenian Patriarchal throne, Vrt'anes K'erdoł, who occupied the patriarchal throne in the early 7th century, between patriarchs Movsēs' and Abraham. According to the 10th c. Armenian historian Yovhannēs Drasxanakertc'i, the previous church was built of bricks and wood, whereas this church was built of polished stones and cemented with lime mortar. The final paragraph, where the Persian king seems happy to demolish the fortress, which was very close to the Cathedral, reveals the common positive attitude towards the Persian king in that period, or at least Sebeos' pro-Iranian sentiments. This was largely determined by the support that the Shah offered to the non-Chalcedonian Armenian Church in their opposition and occasional struggle against the Chalcedonian Byzantines and Georgians.

Bibliography

Edition: Abgaryan G. (ed.), Պատմութիւն Սեբէոսի [The History of Sebeos] (Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1979). Translation: Thomson, R.W., and Howard-Johnston, J., The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos (Translated Texts for Historians 31; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999).

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