Dr. Jesse S. Arlen’s St. Nersess Lecture Series on Armenian Histories now available on YouTube

Zohrab/Fordham Postdoc and Director Dr. Jesse S. Arlen’s Fall Public Lecture series at Saint Nersess Armenian Seminary is now available to stream on YouTube. The six sessions cover the major medieval Armenian historians and histories composed between the fifth and tenth centuries. Part II of the series will take place in the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester.

Lecture 1: An Overview of the Armenian Historical Tradition
Lecture 2: The Conversion and Early History of Armenia: Agathangelos, Epic Histories, & Moses of Khoren
Lecture 3: Narrating the Religious Struggles with Zoroastrian Iran: Ghazar of Parpi and Yeghishe
Lecture 4: Early Engagements with Islam: The Histories of Sebeos and Ghewond
Lecture 5: Regional Histories: History of Caucasian Albania & History of the House of the Artsrunik
Lecture 6: End of the First Millenium: John the Catholicos, Ukhtanes, and Stepanos of Taron

A playlist of the full series is available here.

A resource guide is available here.

Series Description: The Armenian historical tradition is rich and well developed, with texts written in this genre produced continuously from the first century after the invention of the alphabet up until the modern period. Of all the Armenian literary genres, it is the histories that have received the most attention from modern scholars, thanks to their importance for our knowledge of the Near East and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the Armenians who wrote their histories did not conceive of history in the same way we do today, nor did they approach their topics with the same preoccupations and concerns of modern historians. In this six-week course, we will seek to approach the Armenian histories on their own terms, attempting to understand the context in which they were produced, the religious and imaginative world of the authors who composed them, and the goals and purposes that motivated both the patrons who sponsored them and the authors who wrote them. Proceeding chronologically, this semester our goal is to cover twelve major Armenian histories from the fifth to tenth centuries (about two per session). At the same time, we will introduce participants to books and online resources where they may acquire the primary texts and gain access to important secondary materials to facilitate deeper study on their own.

ZIC Launches New Online Catalog

ZICPageArrow.001The Zohrab Center is pleased to launch its new online library catalog. The catalog allows anyone to remotely search the precious resources of the ZIC library.

The catalog is accessed at dac.kohalibrary.com or by using the link at the top right of the ZIC website.

The new catalog replaces ZIC’s original library catalog with a state-of-the-art system incoporating powerful research tools. The catalog is powered by Koha, a full-featured open-source integrated library system that is used by hundreds of libraries and research centers around the world, including the Armenian National Library and the Union Catalog of Armenian Libraries (ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆԻ ԳՐԱԴԱՐԱՆՆԵՐԻ ՀԱՄԱՀԱՎԱՔ ԳՐԱՑՈՒՑԱԿ)

“Our new Koha system gives anyone with an internet connection access to the treasures housed in the Zohrab Center’s library,” said the Director, Fr. Daniel Findikyan. “The system provides a range of tools to facilitate research in every facet of Armenian Studies,” he added.

World-Class Collection of Rare and Old Books

The Zohrab Center’s library numbers well over 50,000 items with particular emphasis in modern Armenian literature, Armenian history, Armenian art and architecture, Armenian theology and Church culture, and Genocide studies. ZIC also houses a world-class collection of Armenian journals, newspapers and periodicals from throughout the world. Many titles are not found in any other library in the western world and a number of rare and old volumes exist nowhere else.

As a non-circulating research library, the ZIC’s largely irreplaceable holdings generally do not leave the reading room. Every effort is made to provide users with electronic scans or photocopies of materials. Of course readers and researchers are always welcome to visit the Center during normal business hours or preferably by appointment.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 6.59.39 PMEven though much of the ZIC collection remains to be catalogued, it already offers a wealth of resources and information to users. Researchers can search for materials by author, title, subject, place or date of publication, language and other variables. As they browse the library’s holdings users can collect items into a personal “shopping cart” and create various lists to facilitate research.

Surprises Abound

“People will be surprised at the variety of treasures we have,” Fr. Findikyan noted. “Researchers will find standard works in every branch of Armenian Studies. Well-known authors from ancient times to the present are represented as well as obscure writers, who are otherwise unknown. Surprises abound. Works by Armenian authors share shelf space with classic works by Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Milton, Aesop, Dante, and others, which were translated into Armenian long ago by our bibliophile ancestors.”

Give the catalog a spin. Type your last name or that of a friend or relative into the search bar and see what comes up! Your great uncle may have been an author! Enter the Armenian village where your grandparents were born and follow the trail of books and materials…

A Growing Repository of Armenian Culture and Thought

Looking ahead, ZIC will catalog its many 19th and early 20th-century manuscripts, many of them eyewitness accounts of the Genocide that await study. The Center’s many old photographs too will eventually be registered into the database allowing users to search for images of ancestors. In addition, electronic versions of many rare materials will be linked to their catalog entry, allowing users to access them directly.

Researchers may search for Armenian materials by using the Library of Congress transliteration system, which is the international standard. Koha supports unicode, so in the future, users will also be able to search for materials in Armenian and other non-Latin alphabets.

As funding becomes available, the Zohrab Center will acquire a professional, high resolution touch-fee scanner, which will allow us to digitize rare and fragile books and documents to make them available to scholars and students. For further information and to contribute toward this and other projects please contact the ZIC at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

 

 

 

 

VIDEO. Armenians in a Multicultural World. Dr. Roberta Ervine Delights and Challenges

Did you miss last week’s marvelous presentation at the Zohrab Center by Dr. Roberta Ervine? She read between the lines of the writings of the 12th-century Armenian monk Mkhitar Gosh and uncovered surprising insights for all who wonder whether Armenians have a future in our complex, multicultural world.

Enjoy the video.

A Prayer for Holy Thursday by Catholicos Khrimian Hayrig

On the Thursday before Easter (Աւագ Հինգշաբթի) the Armenian Church commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus, when he established the mystery of his abiding presence among God’s people through Holy Communion of his living Body and Blood in the Divine Liturgy. 

Erevan, Matenadaran, MS 316, Gospel, Arts'akh, XIVth century, Last Supper. Photo: Ara Güler.
Erevan, Matenadaran, MS 316, Gospel, Arts’akh, XIVth century, Last Supper. Photo: Ara Güler.

Jesus, today you sat down with your hungry farmhands gathered around you. With every step you took, you plowed with them the rocky, hardened land of Israel. You were a plowman and a sower of seed and they were your courageous tillers. You sowed fistfuls of the seed of the Word of Life. You, true vine, planted your orchard at the summit of Golgotha.

Behold! Taking into your hands a cup of the fruit of the vine and a loaf of the bread of Good News, you bless. You give thanks. You break. And you say, “Take, eat, believe. That bread appears to be mere bread. But it is really and truly my Body. It is life. It is not the manna from the desert that your fathers ate in their faulty faith and then died. Instead, you, their faithful children, with your resolute faith, eat this Bread of Life and live forever! And drink this cup filled with joy and jubilation. It really is my blood, which I will spill on the Cross, breaking the cup of my body.”

For three years you proclaimed unceasingly, “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.” Obstinate ones did not want to understand this mystical message of yours. Perplexed, they became indignant and murmured, “How can he give us his body to eat?”

Yet today, behold! You unveil in plain sight the mystery of Communion. Blessing ordinary bread and wine, you sanctify them and with your hands you distribute them, saying, “Here you are! This is my Body and my Blood.”

Lord, we believe that through the example of the Bread, you join your life with our life. You fuse your immortality with our mortality, so that through your life, humanity’s life may be immortalized. That is why you constantly repeated, “Truly, truly, I say to you: If you do not eat the Body of the Son of Man or drink his Blood, you have no life in you.” Yes, Lord, your Body is real food and your Blood is real drink. Blessed are they who eat this meal with faith. 

Catholicos Mkrtich I Khrimian (1820-1907), popularly and lovingly referred to as Khrimian Hayrig, is surely one of the greatest leaders of the Armenian Church in modern times. Passionately concerned for the welfare of the Armenians in the waning days of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, he is best remembered as an outspoken advocate for the right of self-determination for his people. To that end he led the Armenian delegation at the Conference of Berlin in 1878. The blessed Catholicos was also–perhaps even more so–a devout and inspired preacher and a man of resolute Christian faith and fervent prayer. This excerpt is translated from his book Յիսուսի վերջին շաբաթ. Խաչի ճառ [Jesus’ Final Week: Discourse on the Cross], published in Constantinople in 1894. A precious copy of this book is housed in the ZIC collection.

Treasures from ZIC: Zvartnots Literary and Art Review

photo 1The Zohrab Center recently received a dozen early issues of the Armenian periodical Zvartnots. The journal of literature and art was published intermittently in Paris from 1929 to 1964. The precious issues were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop and Sylvia of Boyajian of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

The Zohrab Center is the only library in the United States to hold these issues.

Zvartnots contains original poems, short stories, essays, literary criticism and articles on aspects of Armenian arts and music by Armenian authors. As well, the reader will discover Armenian translations of noted non-Armenian authors of the day. Among the contributors were some of the giants of twentieth century Armenian literature and art including Vahan Tekeyan, Arshag Chobanyan, Hagop Oshagan, Yeghishe Charents, Shahan Shanhur, Shavarsh Nartuni, Nvart Kalpakian, Nigoghos Sarafian, Gurgen Mahari,and a host of mysterious pen-names.

Alongside marvelous poems and short literary pieces, the inaugural issue features an Armenian translation of an essay by the Austrian philosopher and novelist Stefan Zweig; an article on pre-Christian Armenian architecture by the great historian of architecture Toros Toromanian; and  a tribute to Franz Schubert on the hundredth anniversary of his death by a very young Ara Bartevian, who would later become a well-known musician, composer and choral conductor.

Indeed, in the preface to the first issue of Zvartnots, the editor, Hrant Paluian, stresses that the new journal would be “the refuge for those young people who have been held captive to the aged caretakers of our literature.” True to the secularism of the moment, he  continues sardonically:

The residents of Zvartnots, with angelic innocence, have been purified of political passions, partisan enmities and ridiculous heresies. They have been purged of religious and moral prejudices. They believe only in Armenian literature and art.

The word Zvartnots derives from the Armenian zvartunk, literally, “vigilant ones,” the angels who serve God joyfully and tirelessly, and who serve as models of the Christian life. The name was given to the famous seventh-century round church in Etchmiadzin, the ruins of which can be seen today.

The Zohrab Center’s new issues of this marvelous testament to Armenian intellectual vitality between the World Wars in Europe have been added to the ZIC online catalogue. Anyone interested in perusing them is welcome to visit the Center or to contact the staff for questions and further assistance.

MDF

 

Fr. Findikyan Discusses an Ancient Armenian Prayer at German Symposium

Fr. Daniel Findikyan lectures at the University of Bonn, Germany
Fr. Daniel Findikyan lectures at the University of Bonn, Germany

Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Information Center, returned this week from Germany, where he participated in an academic conference at the University of Bonn, Germany. Fr. Findikyan gave a lecture on an Armenian funeral prayer attributed to the erudite 8th-century bishop Step‘anos of Siwnik‘. Findikyan edited and translated the prayer into English from a 14th-century manuscript held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The conference was organized by the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Roman Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council and the 75th anniversary of the publication of the book Liturgie comparée [Comparative Liturgy], the ground-breaking study of the interconnections that are to be found among the worship traditions of the ancient Christian churches. The book was written by the great German Orientalist, Anton Baumstark. Findikyan was one of ten speakers invited to present lectures. He was the only Armenian and the only speaker from the United States. Continue reading “Fr. Findikyan Discusses an Ancient Armenian Prayer at German Symposium”

Treasures from the ZIC: Childhood Marks of Future Renown

Occasional posts spotlighting extraordinary items from the Zohrab Information Center’s holdings and collections.

Պատմութիւն Երուսաղէմի History of Jerusalem by Dikran Savalaniants, published in Jerusalem in 1931.
Պատմութիւն Երուսաղէմի History of Jerusalem by Dikran Savalaniants, published in Jerusalem in 1931.

There are always plenty of books, journals, newspapers and other materials waiting to be sorted through and catalogued in the Zohrab Information Center. The work can be tedious but we stumble upon treasures every day.

While rummaging through a back room recently, I happened upon a hefty, beautifully leather-bound book that caught my eye. Entitled Պատմութիւն Երուսաղէմի [History of Jerusalem], it was written in Classical Armenian by a certain Dikran Savalaniants, translated into Modern Armenian by Bishop Mesrob Nshanian, and published by the Saints James Press of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 1931.

Paging through the nearly 1400-page work, I discovered a very serious study of the ancient Armenian presence in Jerusalem, packed with detailed documentation concerning Armenian property holdings, and Armenian relations with the changing overlords of Jerusalem across the ages. The book even includes a register of Armenian inscriptions found all over Jerusalem and the Holy Land, dating back to the first millennium.

So gathering dust on a low-lying shelf was a world-class historical study in a language unknown to historians, authored by an obscure intellectual, translated by a forgotten Armenian bishop in a dusty third-world monastery. A precious inheritance in search of its rightful heirs.

Tork3
Avedis Manoogian’s
Jerusalem
Seminary

Thumbing back to the title page I found a message handwritten by a past owner of the book. Scrawled in a young child’s clumsy script in bright red ink in the upper right corner I read: Աւետիս Մանուկեան [Avedis Manoogian]. On the very next page, as if to remove anyone’s doubt as to the owner of the precious book, the boy had inscribed again: Աւետիս Մանուկեանի. Երուսաղէմ. Ժառ. վարժ. [Avedis Manoogian’s. Jerusalem. Seminary.]

Who was this precocious, young seminarian? None other than the future Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, whose baptismal name was Avedis. Born in 1919, Manoogian would have been barely 12 years old when Savalaniants’ landmark book was published just footsteps from the Seminary classroom where the future Archbishop would have recently arrived. Just 8 years later, at the tender age of 20, Manoogian would be ordained a priest and abegha [monk] of the Armenian Patriarchate, being renamed Torkom after his teacher, the great Patriarch Torkom Koushagian.

The tender seeds of greatness are all around us.

Archbishop Manoogian passed away in late 2012 following a long and distinguished ministry as pastor and later Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, and capped by his tenure as Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. A memorial service and celebratory tribute for the Patriarch will be held at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York on Sunday, February 9, 2013. All are warmly invited to attend. For further information and promotional materials visit the website of the Eastern Diocese.

–Fr. Daniel Findikyan

New Travel Guide to Turkey Spotlights Ancient Armenian Sites

by ANDREW KAYAIAN

InnocentsReturn
Jack Tucker, Innocents Return Abroad: Exploring Ancient Sites in Eastern Turkey (Volume 2). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. ISBN 978-1482392173. 274 pp.

The Zohrab Information Center is delighted to present a fascinating new addition to its vast and growing collection: Innocents Return Abroad, Volume II: Exploring Ancient Sites in Eastern Turkey by Jack Tucker. A  succinct work of scholarship, Innocents Return Abroad is a traveler’s guidebook to the many ancient ruins and sites in Eastern Turkey. In a welcome innovation, the author provides exact GPS coordinates for each of the sites described. This geographic information allows pilgrims, tourists and scholars to find these largely forgotten and unmarked sites. That, in turn, will foster study and conservation of these precious monuments, the author anticipates. Continue reading “New Travel Guide to Turkey Spotlights Ancient Armenian Sites”