Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Julia Hintlian: Metz Mayr Miriam: The Embellished Armenian Lineage of Marutha of Maipherkat

Little scholarship has focused on the Armenian Life of Marutha of Maipherkats ince Ralph Marcus published his 1932 English translation. Marutha, a fifth-century bishop, participated prominently in the East Syriac Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in 410. His Lifes urvives in Greek, Arabic, Armenian, and in Syriac fragments, all of which derive from a lost Syriac original. The Armenian version was copied by the tenth-century Armenian monk Gagik at a monastery in Arzanene, and commences with a lengthy discourse on Marutha’s grandmother, Miriam, which is absent from other versions. While Greek sources fail to acknowledge Miriam, and Arabic sources mention her only in passing, Gagik’s Lifeemphasizes Miriam’s noble Armenian blood, and credits her with converting Marutha’s entire family to Christianity and for his episcopal success. Given the discrepancies among the Greek, Arabic, and Armenian sources, this paper proposes that Gagik embellished the Syriac description of Miriam to emphasize a historical connection between the East Syriac and Armenian Churches. Whereas the tenth-century Armenian Church in Arzanene faced Byzantine and Arab invasions, the East Syriac Church, centered just south in Mesopotamia, experienced relative stability under the Abbasid Caliphate. Thus, this project suggests Gagik stressed an Armenian grandmother in the life of an East Syriac bishop to foster amity with the Church of the East at a time when the Armenians in Arzanene sought regional Christian allies. Ultimately, this project examines tenth-century Armenian appropriation of a fifth-century East Syriac bishop to probe the understudied relationship between the ancient Armenian and East Syriac Churches.

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