Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Andy Hilkens: Armenian hagio-historiographical traditions about Jacob of Serugh

In the early fifteenth century Gregory of Khlat (d. 1425) published his version of the Armenian synaxarion, which would quickly surpass earlier versions in popularity. Not only did Gregory include translations of Jacob of Serugh's homilies on Stephen the protomartyr, New Sunday and the apostle Thomas, and on the Nativity, for the first time Jacob of Serugh himself was included in an Armenian synaxarion. Surprisingly, Gregory's source for this vita was neither an Armenian nor a Syriac Vita. Instead, Gregory found this information in one of the Armenian adaptations of the Chronicle of Michael the Elder (d. 1199), which were produced by the Armenian polymath Vardan Arewelc'i (d. 1271) and the Syriac Orthodox priest Yeshu' in 1246 and in 1248.This paper investigates the representation of Jacob of Serugh to an Armenian audience by analyzing how Vardan and Yeshu' adapted Michael's narrative, integrating episodes from Syriac hagiographical traditions about Jacob and adding others, and how in turn this material was used by Gregory in order to create an Armenian Vita of Jacob for his synaxarion.

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