Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Anna Ohanjanyan: The Armenian Translations of the Commentaries on Gregory Nazianzen’s Orations Attributed to Eliya the Syrian

Among the Armenian commentaries on Gregory Nazianzen’s Orations on Theophany (Or. 38), Baptism (Or. 40) and Pascal Orations (Or 1 and 45)there is the ones attributed to the twelfth-century hitherto unknown Western Syriac writer Eliya the Syrian (Ełia Asori). It seems that the translation of Eliya’s commentaries became seminal and had deep impact on the composition of the authentic commentaries penned by Eliya’s contemporary Armenian authors, such as Vardan Hałbatec’i (d. 1193/95), Davit’ K’obayrec’i (d. 1210/20), Vardan Arevelc’i (d. 1271), etc. It survived in two manuscript copies in Matenadaran and Mekhitarist collection in Venice. The close examination of the manuscripts and the reconstruction of historical context reveals Vardan Hałbatec’i and Nersēs Šnorhali (d. 1173) being the initiator and commissioner of the translations and Vardan Arevelc’i — the later possible polisher of the translated texts.The current paper seeks to introduce the Armenian translations of Eliya the Syrian’s Commentaries to the broader scholarly audience with the aim to test the authorship of the Syriac original (if survived). Further, it aims to identify the historical climate, doctrinal necessity and shift in ecclesiastical policy between 1169 and 1171 that propelled the profound Armenian theologians to embark on translating and appropriating handpicked Syriac commentaries on Nazianzen’s Orations ushering in the new tradition of commentary-writing on Gregory’s pieces in the Armenian Church.

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