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E00244: The Epic Histories, traditionally attributed to P'awstos, written in Armenian in the second half of the 5th c., record the commemoration of *John the Baptist (S00020), the *Apostles (S00084), and other martyrs, by Patriarch *Vrt'anēs (patriarch of Greater Armenia (333-341),S00297) in the earlier 4th c and his miraculous survival of an assassination attempt, followed by punishing and healing miracles.

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posted on 22.12.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
The Epic Histories, Book III, Chapter 3

The chapter recounts the reign of Xosrov in Armenia and the patriarchate of Vrt'anēs, the elder son of Gregory the Illuminator. In their days peace and prosperity grew in Armenia.

Զայնու ժամանակաւ երթեալ հասանէր եպիսկոպոսապետն Վրթանէս իմեծն յառաջին ի մայրն եկեղեցեացն Հայոց, որ էր յերկրին Տարօնու, ուր նշանօքն եղելօք կործանեցան բագինք մեհենիցն յայնժամ վաղ եւս առ մեծաւ քահանայապետաւն Գրիգորիւ: Սա երթեալ կատարէր անդ, ըստ հանապազ սովորութեանն, զտեառնն զխաչական զփրկութեանն զպատարագն գոհութեան, զհաղորդութիւն չարչարանաց յիշատակի, զկենդանարարն եւ զազատիչն զմարմին եւ զարիւն աստուածորդոյն տեառն մերոյ Յիսուսի Քրիստոսի: Քանզի այնպէս իսկ սովոր էին եպիսկոպոսապետքն Հայոց, հանդերձ թագաւորօք եւ մեծամեծօքն, նախարարօքն եւ աշխարհախումբ բազմութեամբ պատուել զնոյն տեղիս, որ յառաջ էին տեղիք պատկերաց կռոցն, եւ ապա յանուն աստուածութեանն սրբեցան, եւ եղեն տուն աղօթից եւ տեղի ուխտից ամենայն ումեք: Մանաւանդ յայն ի գլխաւոր տեղին յեկեղեցին ժողովել ի յիշատակ սրբոցն` որ էին անդ, կատարել անդ ամի ամի եւթն անգամ. որք զնոյն ունէին սովորութիւն առաւել եւս ի մեծի մարգարէարան մատրանն Յովհաննու: Սոյնպէս եւ յառաքելարանս տեառնաշակերտացն, սոյնպէս եւ ի վկայարանս մարտիրոսացն ամի ամի ժողովեալք, զօր տօնին յիշատակի նոցա վարուց գործոց կենաց քաջութեան խմբեալ` ցնծային: Իսկ դէպ իմն լինէր ի ժամանակին` յորում մեծ քահանայապետն Վրթանէս երթեալ շրջէր առանձինն սակաւուք, կատարել զպատարագն օրհնութեան: Արդ որք միանգամ զհնութիւն կռապաշտութեան հեթանոսութեան զնոյն սովորութիւն մինչեւ ցայնժամ եւս ունէին գաղտնի, ի մի միաբանութիւն ժողովեալք` հասանէին իբրեւ հազարք երկու, խորհուրդ եդեալ ընդ միմեանս` սպանանել զքահանայապետն Աստուծոյ զՎրթանէս: Բայց ունէին եւ սակաւ մի խորհուրդ համարձակութեան ի կնոջէ թագաւորէն` զայն գործել. վասն զ ի յանդիմանէր զնա սուրբն վասն գաղտնի շնութեան գիջութեան բարոյից պոռնկութեան: Եւ հասեալ պատէին զմեծ քաղաքորմն եկեղեցւոյն Աշտիշատու: Մինչ դեռ նա ի ներքս մտեալ` զպատարագն կատարէր, արտաքուստ բազմազօրուն փակեալ պաշարել կամեցան: Որոց առ հասարակ որք ի գնդին էին բազուկք իւրաքանչիւր` յետս դարձեալ ի վերայ իւրաքանչիւր թիկանց, առանց իրիք կապելոյ` սքանչելապէս կապեալ լինէին: Այսպէս պաշարեալք ընկապճեալք գերեալք վանեալք կծկեալք, ամենեքեան առ հասարակ յերկիր անգեալք անբարբառ կային, անխաղացք ի տեղւոջէն, որք էին տոհմք եւ ազգք աշխարհակերք աշխարնաւերք ժանդագործք քրմացն: Արդ այնպէս պաշարեալք, դիզեալ կային ամբոխն ի գաւթի եկեղեցւոյն. զորս ելեալ իւր իսկ ինքնին Վրթանէս` մատուցեալ հարցանէր զնոսա, եթէ դուք ո՞յք էք, կամ ուստի՞ գայք, կամ զո՞ խնդրէք, կամ ուստի՞ եկիք: Իսկ նոցա զարդարն սկսեալ խօսել, խոստովան լինէին` եթէ եկաք զի աւերեսցուք զտեղիս, եւ զքեզ սպանցուք, հրամանաւ համարձակեալ ակնարկելով մեծին Հայոց տիկնոջն. այլ տէր Աստուած զզօրութիւնն իւր յայտնեաց, եւ եցոյց մեզ` թէ ինքն միայն է Աստուած. եւ այժմ ծանեաք եւ հաւատացաք` եթէ նա միայն է Աստուած: Արդ այսպէս կամք աւասիկ կծկեալք, զի եւ շարժել անգամ ոչ կարեմք ի տեղւոջէս: Իսկ երանելին Վրթանէս զբանն վարդապետութեանն ի մէջ առնոյր, հաստատէր զնոսա ի հաւատսն ի մի տէր Յիսուս Քրիստոս, շատ ինչ խօսէր ընդ նոսա: Ապա աղօթս մատուցանէր, եւ խնդրէր յԱստուծոյ, բժշկէր եւ արձակէր զնոսա յաներեւոյթ կապանացն եւ յանհնարին կծկութենէ տանջանացն: Եւ նոքա իբրեւ փրկեցան յայնմանէ, ապա առ հասարակ անկանէին առաջի նորա, եւ խնդրէին ապաշխարութեան զդեղն. եւ նա տայր ժամանակ սահմանեալ ապաշխարութեան: Եւ ուսեալք զհաւատսն միասնական սուրբ երրորդութեանն, եւ ապա մկրտէր իբրեւ հազարս երկուս, թո'ղ զկանայս իւրեանց եւ զմանկտի. եւ այսպէս ի հաւատ խառնէր, եւ արձակէր սրբեալս եւ հաւատացեալս:

'At about that time, the chief-bishop Vrt'anes went to the first and mother-church of Armenia, which was in the land of Taron, where formerly, the altars of the [pagan] temples were destroyed by the great high-priest Gregory [the Illuminator] through the appearance of the [holy] portents. Having come there, he performed, in accordance with perpetual custom, the eucharistic sacrifice of the Lord's redeeming crucifixion, the communion in commemoration of His passion that is the vivifying and liberating body and blood of the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ. For, in this very fashion the chief-bishops of Armenia, together with the kings and magnates, the naxarars, and the multitude of the people, were wont to honour those places which were formerly the sites of heathen idols and were subsequently purified in the name of the Divinity and became a house of prayer and a place of congregation for all. They gathered especially in the church of this chief place to commemorate the saints who were there, every year on the seventh day of the month [of Sahmi?], and those maintaining the same tradition [gathered] particularly at the great chapel, martyrium-of-the-prophet John [the Baptist]. Assembling also every year at the martyria-of-the-apostles and disciples of the Lord and at the shrines-of-the-martyrs, they celebrated with jubilation the feast commemorating the deeds of their valorous lives.

But a certain event occurred at the time that the great high-priest Vrt'anes had come alone with a few [attendants] to perform the sacrifice of praise. Then, those who had secretly kept until then to the ancient heathen idol-worshiping customs. Up to two thousand in number gathered together and plotted to kill the high-priest of God, Vrt'anes. They had been partially emboldened to commit this [deed] by [the instigation] of the king's wife, for the holy man had rebuked her for her secret adultery and dissolute ways. And so they came and surrounded the great fortified [k'ałak'ormn] church of Aštišat. A large force without sought to surround and besiege it while he was performing the sacrifice within. [But] the arms of each one in the group [gund] were miraculously turned backward and tied behind his shoulders without being bound by anything.

Thus, all of them found themselves on the ground, enveloped, tightly bound, twisted, constrained, speechless, and motionless. These [men] were from the families and races of the evil pagan-priests, the devourers and destroyers of the world. So then, the band was piled up, bound in this fashion, in the gawit' of the church, [until] Vrt'anes himself came out, drew near to them, and asked: "Who are you?" and "Where have you come from? Whom do you seek?" or "Whence have you come? And they began to speak the truth and confessed: "We have come to destroy these places and to kill you, emboldened by the order and instigation of the queen of Greater Armenia. But the Lord God manifested His might and showed us that He alone is God, and now we have understood and believed that He alone is God. Thus we are bound in such a way that we are unable to move from this place." And the blessed Vrt'anes, citing the word of spiritual-teaching, strengthened them in the faith in one Lord Jesus Christ and spoke a great deal to them. Then he prayed and implored God; he healed and freed them from their invisible bonds and from the irresistible tormenting constriction. And when they had been released from it, they all fell down before him and begged for the healing of penitence, and he gave [them] a set time for penance. And when they had learned the faith in the Consubstantial and Holy Trinity, he baptized some two thousand of them, besides their women and children. Thus he brought them to the faith and sent them forth purified and believing.'

Text: Garsoïan. Translation: Garsoïan 1989, 68-69.

History

Evidence ID

E00244

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 Apostles (unspecified) : S00084

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

460

Evidence not after

470

Activity not before

320

Activity not after

341

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

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

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Epic Histories (Buzandaran Patmut'iwnk')

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Places

Martyr shrine (martyrion, bet sāhedwātā, etc.)

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Punishing miracle Changing abilities and properties of the body

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Pagans Ecclesiastics - bishops Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The History, traditionally attributed to a certain P‘awstos Buzandac'i (usually translated as 'Faustos of Byzantium') covers Armenian history from the later Arsacid dynasty (c. AD 330) to the partition of the Armenian kingdom between Byzantium and Iran (AD 387). The History is the earliest source covering this specific period of history, which was later treated by Movsēs Xorenac'i. As N. Garsoïan points out, despite the evident importance of the material contained in the History for the study of 4th century Armenia, it was never included into the received Armenian tradition, and medieval historians preferred to refer to Movsēs Xorenac‘i, the most authoritative source for later authors, as the sole authority for 4th century events. Łazar P'arpeci, for example, considered the information provided by P‘awstos as false and absurd, and so apparently did the rest of medieval scholarship. Date and language The authorship of the text has long been debated. The author claims to have been an eyewitness of the events he describes, but if this was indeed the case he could not have written in Armenian, as the Armenian script was only created in the 5th century. Thus, he was often considered a Greek historian, a supposition 'supported' by a misunderstanding of the word Buzand (in his name) as 'Byzantium' (see below). Other external evidence has also been cited to favour the idea that the work was originally written in Greek, and only later translated into Armenian. There has also been a theory in favour of a Syriac original, mostly advanced by Peeters and based on multiple Syriacisms in the text. The most convincing theory, however, favours an Armenian original, and is mostly based on internal linguist evidence, such as the use of scriptural quotations that derive from the Armenian version of the Bible, various colloquialisms, and the spelling of proper names. As to the date of the composition, the author’s own claim cannot be accepted as trustworthy as he is far too ignorant of 4th century events to be considered a contemporary; he presents 4th century historical events as filtered through folk memory, often projecting events of the 5th century into the previous century. Based on the Epic Histories' quotations from Koriwn (who wrote in the first half of the 5th century), and a reference to the Histories by Łazar P‘arpeci (writing at the very end of the 5th century), who places 'P‘awstos' immediately after Agathangelos, Garsoïan suggests convincingly that the date of composition was around 470, arguing that 'it is difficult to imagine a time more suitable for a work glorifying the role of the Mamikonean family in Armenian history than the generation immediately following the sparapet Vardan Mamikonean's heroic defense of Armenian Christianity in 451' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 11). The author The claim by some late antique and medieval sources that P‘awstos was Greek rests on a misunderstanding of the word Buzand, which was considered to mean 'Byzantium'. Medieval reception 'corrected' the form Buzand to Buzandac‘i ('from Byzantium') to support the Greek origin of the author. The actual title appended to the text is Buzandaran Patmut‘iwnk‘. A. Perikhanian has found a definitive solution to the problem, showing that the word buzand derived not from the toponym ('Byzantium') but from the Parthian bozand , 'a reciter of epic poems, a bard' , with the suffix –aran as an adjectival qualifier. The title can thus be translated as Bardic or Epic Histories. So, as N. Garsoïan has shown, the work generally titled History of Armenia and attributed to Faustos of Byzantium is in fact a compilation of tales assembled by an anonymous historian in the 5th century. In our database the text will be consistently referred to as the Epic Histories. The author’s agenda From the perspective of the author’s representation of cultic practices, Garsoïan’s conclusion (as follows) is noteworthy: 'The author may have been a native of the southwestern district of Taron because of his unreserved devotion to the Mamikonean lords of the district and to its holy site Aštišat, which he invariable presents as the original centre of Armenian Christianity, as against the focus of the contemporary 'Agathangelos Cycle' on the northern city of Vałaršapat'/Dwin, and the nearby holy site of T'ordan' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 16). The author is a rigourous defender of Nicene orthodoxy and is thus strongly antagonistic toward the Armenian crown, which 'sought to conform with the Arianizing policy of the successors of Constantine through much of the fourth century' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 15).

Discussion

This passage in the Epic Histories tells of an annual commemoration at Aštišat, of the saints whose relics rested there (by tradition, brought there by Gregory the Illuminator): here they are listed as those of John the Baptist, of unnamed Apostles and of unnamed martyrs.

Bibliography

Edition: Buzandaran Patmut'iwn (The Epic Histories) also known as Patmut'iwn Hayoc' (History of Armenia) Attributed to P'awstos Buzandac'i, a facsimile reproduction of the 1883 St. Petersburg edition with an introduction by Nina G. Garsoïan (New York: Caravan Books, 1984). Translation: Garsoïan, N.G., The Epic Histories Attributed to P'awstos Buzand (Buzandaran Patmut'iwnk') (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

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