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E00525: Movsēs Xorenac'i's History of Armenia, written in Armenian and traditionally considered a 5th c. text, but most probably of the early 8th c., recounts the death and burial of *Mesrop (also known as Maštoc', creator of Armenian alphabet, S00069), the creator of the Armenian alphabet and translator.

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posted on 18.05.2015, 00:00 by naleksidze
Movsēs Xorenac'i, History of Armenia, Book III, Chapter 67

The chapter recounts the last days and death of Sahak and Maštoc', who died six months after Sahak.

Այլ վասն զի զբոլոր նորա ուղղութիւնս ոչ եմ բաւական ասել՝ ի հանգիստ նորա նշխարացն դարձուցից զբանս: Որպէս լուայ ի բազմաց եւ ի հաւաստի արանց, եթէ եկաց լոյս շողապէս ընդ աղօտ նշան խաչի ի վերայ տանն, ուր երանելին զհոգին աւանդեաց. ոչ փոյթ ընդ փոյթ լեալ էանց ծագումն, կամ սակաւուց տեսանելի, այլ ամենայն բազմութեանն, մինչեւ յոլովից մկրտել յանհաւատից: Յայնժամ լեալ աղմուկ շփոթ յամբոխութեանն, բաժանեալ յերիս գունդս, վասն հանգուցանելոյ զպարկեշտն զայն մարմին եւ նախ քան զմահն կրթեալ ի մեռելութիւն: Կէսքն ասէին տանել ի բնագաւառն իւր ի Տարօն, եւ ոմանք ի նախ աշակերտեալն Գողթն, եւ այլքն անդէն ի նմին ի Վաղարշապատ քաղաքի ի սրբոցն դիրս: Բայց յաղթեաց քաջն Վահան Ամատունի, զի էր զօրաւոր հաւատովք եւ ճոխութեամբ մարմնաւորաւ. վասն զի ի ժամանակին յայնմիկ ի նա էր հաւատացեալ Պարսից զհազարապետութիւն աշխարհիս Հայոց. որոյ բարձեալ՝ տարաւ զնա արժանի յուղարկմամբ յիւր գիւղն Օշական: Եւ նոյն տեսիլ լուսեղէն խաչին ի վերայ դագաղացն երթայր յանդիման ամենայն ժողովրդեանն, մինչեւ ի հանգիստ զնա փոխեցին Վահան եւ Թաթիկ նորին արբանեակ. եւ ապա նշանն աներեւոյթ լինէր: Իսկ զաթոռ եպիսկոպոսապետութեանն ետեղապահութեամբ յաջորդեաց հրամանաւ երանելւոյն Մեսրոպայ՝ նորին աշակերտն Յովսէփ քահանայ ի Վայոց ձորոյ, ի Խողոցիմ գեղջէ:

'But because I am unable to describe all his virtues, I shall turn my account to the burial of his relics. As I heard from many trustworthy men, there shone a light like a ray in the form of a dim cross over the house where the blessed one gave up the ghost. The glow did not quickly fade, nor was it visible to a few but to the whole multitude, so that many of the unbelievers were baptized. Then there arose a tumult in the crowd that divided into three groups over the burial of that venerable body, which had prepared for death even before dying. Some said it should be taken to his own native province of Taron; others to the province first instructed by him, Gołt'n; and others [that it should be buried] in that same city of Vałarshapat in the resting places of the martyrs. But the valiant Vahan Amatuni won the argument, for he was powerful both in faith and in secular authority, because at that time the Persians had entrusted him with the governorship of Armenia. He took Mesrop's body with a worthy escort to his own village of Oshakan. And the same vision of the luminous cross moved over the bier in front of the entire crowd, until Vahan and Tatik his servant had laid him to rest; then the sign disappeared. At the command of blessed Mesrop, his own disciple Joseph, a priest from Vayots dzor, from the village of Kholot'im, succeeded as a locum tenens to the archiepiscopal throne.'

Text: Thomson 1981, 355-358; Translation: Thomson 2006, 342-344.

History

Evidence ID

E00525

Saint Name

Maštoc', also known as Mesrop, creator of Armenian alphabet. : S00069

Saint Name in Source

Մեսրոպ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

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

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Movsēs Xorenaci (History of Armenia)

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Miraculous sound, smell, light

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Crowds Officials

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body Transfer, translation and deposition of relics

Source

The author In the introductory paragraph the author identifies himself as Moses of Khoren (Xoren), although no such town is otherwise attested. He claims to be an active member of the circle of Maštoc' and Sahak of the early 5th century and to have witnessed some of the events he described. But the authorship and date has been challenged convincingly, as the author reveals knowledge of sources much later than the 5th century, and, as Robert Thomson points out, it was only after the year 900 that Movsēs's claim to have been a student of Sahak and Maštoc' was shared by other Armenian authors (Thomson 2006, 2-3). The first reference to the History of Movsēs Xorenac‘i appears in the 10th century, when he is used as a source. It is in the early 11th century that lists first appear in which Movsēs is listed as a 5th century author. Thereafter Movsēs was canonically considered as the 5th century “father of Armenian history”. Currently the most convincing suggested date for the compilation and composition of Movsēs’s history is the first half of the 8th century. Movsēs frequently cites unnamed earlier sources in support of what he writes, but there is no way of telling whether these really existed, or whether they are a rhetorical device. Xorenac'i’s agenda Movsēs overtly writes for his Bagratid patrons, who ascended to power in Armenia in the early 8th century. He seeks to connect the Bagratid family to the period before the official conversion of Armenia, and to assert their perpetual Christianity. According to Movsēs, the Bagratids were even associated with the preaching of Thaddaeus in Edessa, before the latter came to Armenia. Tobias, in whose house Thaddaeus had lodged in Edessa, was, according to Movsēs, a Jewish Bagratid prince. This claim is crucial for Movsēs, as previous historians, who mostly wrote for the rival Mamikonean clan, had closely associated this latter family with Gregory the Illuminator. The Mamikoneans had, according to this tradition, married into the family of Gregory. Therefore Movsēs’s primary agenda was to elevate his patrons’ prestige vis-à-vis the Mamikoneans by pointing out their even older Christian connections (Thomson 2006, 29-30). As part of this agenda, Movsēs promoted the cult of the early apostles Thaddaeus and Barthlomew in Armenia, and adapted the story of the Syrian King Abgar into the Armenian tradition, having made Abgar Armenian.

Discussion

Movsēs is the only historian who describes competition over the burial place of Mesrop's body. Apparently the importance of the burial site was determined not only by cultic practices, but also by the political importance of the place. For this reason Movsēs stresses that the final decision was made by the secular leader Vahan Amatuni and not by a bishop. Awšakan was traditionally an Amatuni land.

Bibliography

Edition: Thomson, R.W., Moses Khorenats'i, Patmut'iwn Hayots' (History of the Armenians), a facsimile reproduction of the 1913 Tiflis edition (New York: Caravan Books, 1981). Translation: Thomson, R.W., Moses Khorenats'i, History of the Armenians (Ann Arbor: Caravan Books, 2006).

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