Featured

“The Materiality of Armenian Christianity: Gospel Books as Sacred Objects” — Zoom Lecture by Konrad Siekierski — Wed, Jan 26 at 7:00pm ET

On Wednesday, January 26th, at 7:00pm ET, Konrad Siekierski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London will deliver a lecture entitled “The Materiality of Armenian Christianity: Gospel Books as Sacred Objects.”

This Zoom Webinar is jointly sponsored by the The Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research, & The Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.

To register for the Webinar, please visit: https://bit.ly/NAASRSiekierski

The Materiality of Armenian Christianity: Gospel Books as Sacred Objects

Armenian Gospel Books do not only contain the Word of God to be read by priests and the faithful, but some also act as sacred objects endowed with supernatural power and agency. As such, they are venerated during the feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Church and as ‘home saints’ – family relics held in unofficial shrines. Based on several years of ethnographic research in Armenia and recent anthropological literature on religion as a sensual and material phenomenon, I will discuss how Gospel Books (and some other religious texts) make visible the invisible, touchable the untouchable, and – ultimately – reachable the unreachable for Armenian Christians today. Furthermore, I will explore the Armenian veneration of home saints in the context of Soviet and post-Soviet Armenia’s changing socio-political landscape, the decay of traditional village life in the country, and the theft of many privately owned Gospel Books.

Konrad Siekierski is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London. Based upon ten years of ethnographic research, his doctoral thesis, A Vow to Go: Religion, Reunion, and Roots in Armenian Pilgrimage, examines the different forms that pilgrimage takes today in the Armenian culture. In 2021, he conducted a research project Gospel Books as Home Saints: Between Vernacular Christianity and Armenian National Heritage, funded by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. Currently he is a recipient of The Orthodox Christian Studies NEH Dissertation Completion Fellowship at Fordham University. Konrad edited two collective volumes and authored several articles in academic journals.

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.

Dr. Jesse Arlen a contributor to new Eastern Christianity Reader

Zohrab/Fordham Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Jesse S. Arlen edited and translated the texts for the Armenian section of a new volume that presents English translations of important texts from the Eastern Christian (Oriental Orthodox) traditions, many of which are appearing in English for the first time. This important volume, which also includes introductions to the each of the languages represented, aims to make the Eastern Christian literary traditions more accessible to a wide and scholarly audience. The volume contains Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic Christian texts from late antiquity to the early modern period.

To purchase the book visit the publisher Eerdman’s website, where it is currently 25% off.

DESCRIPTION

English translations of Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Coptic, and Ethiopic Christian texts from late antiquity to the early modern period 

In order to make the writings of Eastern Christianity more widely accessible this volume offers a collection of significant texts from various Eastern Christian traditions, many of which are appearing in English for the first time. The internationally renowned scholars behind these translations begin each section with an informative historical introduction, so that anyone interested in learning more about these understudied groups can more easily traverse their diverse linguistic, cultural, and literary traditions. A boon to scholars, students, and general readers, this ample resource expands the scope of Christian history so that communities beyond Western Christendom can no longer be ignored.

Contributors

Jesse S. Arlen, Aaron M. Butts, Jeff W. Childers, Mary K. Farag, Philip Michael Forness, John C. Lamoreaux, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent, Erin Galgay Walsh, J. Edward Walters, and Jeffrey Wickes.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Part One: Syriac
          1. The Doctrina Addai
          2. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns against Heresies 3 and 53
          3. Martyrdom of Mīles, Abursam, and Sinay
          4. Jacob of Serugh, The Fourth Homily on Cain and Abel
          5. Narsai, On the Canaanite Woman
          6. Simeon of Beth Arsham, Letter on the Ḥimyarite Martyrs
          7. The Syriac Life of Mary of Egypt
          8. Timothy I, Letter 47
          9. Theodore bar Koni, Scholion, Mēmrā 10
Part Two: Armenian
          1. Koriwn, The Life of Mashtotsʿ
          2. Eznik of Koghb, Refutation of the Sects (or, On God)
          3. The Teaching of Saint Grigor
          4. Anania of Narek, On This Transitory World
          5. Grigor of Narek, Book of Lamentation, Discourse 1, Discourse 88
          6. Nersēs Shnorhali, Hymn for the Sunrise Hour, Instructional Preface to a Prayer of Nersēs, Prayer of Nersēs
Part Three: Georgian
          1. Martyrdom of St. Shushanik
          2. John Sabanisże, Martyrdom of Habo, the Perfumer from Baghdad
          3. George the Athonite, The Lives of John the Iberian, Euthymios the Athonite, and George the Minor, The Life of George the Athonite
          4. Mark the Deacon, The Life of Porphyry of Gaza
Part Four: Arabic
          1. Homilies on the Gospel Readings for Holy Week
          2. Theodore Abū Qurrah, That God Is Not Weak
          3. The Disputation of Abraham of Tiberias
          4. Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq, How to Discern the True Religion
          5. Miracles of Saint George
          6. Commentary on the Pentateuch
Part Five: Coptic
          1. Life of Pachomius
          2. Shenoute of Atripe, I Have Been Reading the Holy Gospels
          3. Pseudo-Dioscorus of Alexandria, Encomium on Macarius of Tkōou
          4. The Anaphora of Saint Thomas the Apostle
          5. Christophoria, Letter to the Comes Mena
          6. John of Paralos, Homily on the Archangel Michael and the Blasphemous Books of the Heretics
          7. Pseudo-Cyril of Alexandria, Encomium Interpreting Part of the Apocalypse of John the Apostle of Christ Jesus
Part Six: Ethiopic
          1. Select Inscriptions of ˁEzana
          2. Homily on Frumentius
          3. Synaxarion on Yared
          4. Glory of the Kings (Kǝbrä Nägäśt)
          5. Miracles of Mary
          6. Zär’a Yaʿəqob, Book of the Trinity
          7. Prayer Amulet: MS Duke Ethiopic 15

REVIEWS
“Here is a really excellent and most welcome volume: it aims to provide ‘a series of windows’ into the literatures of the various languages of the Christian Middle East. For each language, well-chosen excerpts, ranging from four to nine in number, are introduced and translated, accompanied by helpful bibliographical guidance in each case for readers who wish to explore further. The book provides both the general reader and scholars in related areas with a wonderful gateway into little-known areas of early Christian literature.”
— Sebastian Brock, University of Oxford

“Scholars and students have rarely had easy access to primary sources across the array of continents, languages, and cultures where ancient Christians forged their places. This volume responds to that need. Concise and efficient, it offers a rich assortment of texts from an often-unfamiliar variety of language traditions. Demonstrating fundamental commonalities as well as distinctive traits for each, this volume is a marvelously rich entry into global Christianity over its first millennium and more, far to the east of Europe’s shores.”
— Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University

“Providing short introductions to the various Eastern churches alongside fresh translations of some of their most important texts, this ‘dream team’ of contributors has created the first truly accessible entryway into the diverse traditions associated with Eastern Christianity. Thanks to their efforts, there is no longer any excuse for the history of Christianity to be taught as the history simply of Western Christianity. For anyone interested in understanding Christianity as a global religion—whether professor, graduate student, seminarian, undergraduate, or practitioner—Eastern Christianity is nothing short of required reading.”
— Michael Philip Penn, Stanford University

Sophene Books and the Dawn of a New Era for Classical and Medieval Armenian Literature

A wonderful new publishing initiative by Sophene Books now makes classical and medieval Armenian texts available in dual language editions, with Classical Armenian and English on facing pages. Some of the texts available include Yeghishe’s History of Vardan and the Armenian War, Matthew of Edessa’s Chronicle, Sebeos’ History, and many others.

The Zohrab Information Center’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Director, Dr. Jesse S. Arlen, wrote an article for the Armenian Mirror-Spectator on the importance of this new series for all interested in Classical Armenian and its literary treasure: Sophene Books and the Dawn of a New Era for Classical and Medieval Armenian Literature

Zohrab Center Now Open to Visitors (by Appointment) & Recordings of Vemkar/ZIC Classical Armenian Series

We are pleased to announce that the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center is now open to visitors (by appointment only)!

After nearly a year and a half of the research library being closed, we are eager to welcome back scholars, researchers, and any others interested in making use of the vast collection of materials.

To schedule a time to visit, please contact the director, Dr. Jesse Arlen, at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or call 212-686-0710 (ext. 126).

We are also pleased to announce that recordings for the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” are available to watch on YouTube.

Recent sessions include:

Hymns for the Feast of the Assumption with Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian

Ephrem the Syrian’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron with Julia Hintlian

“On Prayer” by Evagrius of Pontus (or Nilus of Ancyra) with Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan

Sargis Shnorhali’s Exegesis of 1 Peter 3:15 with Ani Shahinian

Canon of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross with Dn. Ezras Tellalian

Classical Armenian with Fr. Ghevond Ajamian

The previous two sessions of the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” are available to stream on YouTube. They were both led by Fr. Ghevond Ajamian of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dallas, TX.

The July 21st session featured Gregory of Tatev’s “Sermon on Hope (Գրիգոր Տաթեւացւոյ քարոզ վասն յուսոյ).

The July 28th session looked at funeral prayers from the Book of Rituals (Մաշտոց / Ծիսարան), comparing those said for an adult with those said for a child.

The next session, on August 4th, will be led by Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian and will focus on a sharakan (hymn) for the Feast of the Assumption.

To register for it on Zoom, and for all future sessions in the series, please visit: https://vemkar.us/modules/christ-as-hope/live-sessions/#classical-armenian

YouTube Recording of the First Session from the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope”

The recording for the First Session of the Vemkar/Zohrab Classical Armenian Series “Christ as Hope” is available to stream on the Zohrab Information Center’s YouTube channel. Subscribe to the channel to be notified when future videos in the series are posted.

In the first session, Jesse Arlen, Interim Director of ZIC, presented Gregory of Narek’s “Ode for the Ascension” (Տաղ Համբարձման ի Գրիգոր Նարեկացւոյն).

After the presentation, participants engaged in 20–30 minutes of discussion.

The sessions will continue each Wednesday evening through September 1st at 7:00pm ET. Register in advance for the Zoom sessions here. No knowledge of Classical Armenian is required.

Future sessions will be led by Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, Fr. Nigoghos Aznavourian, Julia Hintlian, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, Ani Shahinian, and Dn. Ezras Tellalian.

Zohrab/Vemkar “Christ as Hope” Classical Armenian Series

Join the Zohrab Center and Vemkar‘s Classical Armenian Series on the theme “Christ as Hope,” where you’ll have the opportunity to read texts in Classical Armenian (Գրաբար), the liturgical language of the Armenian Church, guided by clergy, scholars, and advanced students of the language!

Through the guidance of a teacher, attendees will be introduced to a diversity of texts related to the theme of “Christ as Hope” from the Armenian Christian tradition, meditating on this theme while gaining exposure to Classical Armenian and the vast library of literary treasures written in this form of the language from the fifth to nineteenth centuries. 

The eight sessions will convene on Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm ET, from July 14 – Sept 1. Register for the Zoom sessions in advance. Come to one or all!

DateTime (EDT)TitleSpeakerZoom Link
Wednesday, July 147:00 PMSession 1Jesse ArlenREGISTER
Wednesday, July 217:00 PMSession 2Fr. Ghevond AjamianREGISTER
Wednesday, July 287:00 PMSession 3Fr. Ghevond AjamianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 47:00 PMSession 4Fr. Nigoghos AznavourianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 117:00 PMSession 5Julia HintlianREGISTER
Wednesday, August 187:00 PMSession 6Fr. Hovsep KarapetyanREGISTER
Wednesday, August 257:00 PMSession 7Ani ShahinianREGISTER
Wednesday, September 17:00 PMSession 8Dn. Ezras TellalianREGISTER

For more information, and to see a full schedule of the live sessions offered in conjunction with the lanuch of Vemkar’s new module, visit: https://vemkar.us/modules/christ-as-hope/live-sessions/

DIOCESE ANNOUNCES THE FIRST POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW & DIRECTOR OF THE ZOHRAB CENTER

The Eastern Diocese is pleased to announce that scholar Jesse Arlen has been named as the first “Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Armenian Christian Studies, and Director at the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.”

Mr. Arlen was selected for the fellowship by a committee representing the Diocese and Fordham University, following a public call for applications. Earlier this year, the Eastern Diocese, under the auspices of Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel, entered into an agreement with Fordham University, which reconfigured the director’s position of the Diocese’s Zohrab Information Center.

Under this arrangement, the Zohrab Center directorship is now a rotating position of two to three years’ duration, where each successive director will simultaneously hold a post-doctoral research fellowship at Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center. (Click here to learn more.)

“I am honored to have been selected as the first recipient of the newly formulated postdoctoral position of Zohrab Center director and Fordham University research fellow,” said Mr. Arlen. “I am grateful for those who gave me this opportunity, which will allow me to engage in research, teaching, and programming around the areas I have pursued in my graduate studies: Armenian Christian culture, theology, and history as well as language and literature.”

He added: “I look forward to continuing to deepen connections and work collaboratively with colleagues at the Diocese and for future opportunities at Fordham and St. Nersess.”

Since February, Mr. Arlen has been serving as the Zohrab Center’s interim director, while he completes his Ph.D. at UCLA in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures with a focus in Armenian studies. He is the author of numerous publications and papers, and has been a speaker at many academic workshops, panel discussions, and interviews.

“Jesse is a very promising scholar in the field of Armenian theology and early Christian studies,” said Bishop Daniel. “He brings to the Zohrab Center not only strong scholarly and teaching credentials, but also sincere dedication to the Armenian Church and its vital Christian witness and ministry.”

Saluting a “Soldier of the Light” March 24 at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary

1767_001The Zohrab Information Center and St. Nersess Seminary will co-sponsor a day-long symposium dedicated to the life and vision of His Holiness Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian, a true titan among the Armenian people in modern times.

The symposium is titled, Soldier of the Light: The Aspirations of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.” It marks the 150th anniversary of Hovsepian’s birth and the centennial of the Battle of Sardarabad (in which he fought). It will take place on Saturday, March 24, at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, 486 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY.

Speakers include Dr. Abraham Terian, Dr. Roberta Ervine, Dr. Christine Maranci, Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, and Mr. Nubar Kupelian. V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Director of the Zohrab Center and Professor at St. Nersess Seminary, will moderate. Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside.

A Man of Staggering Accomplishments Abounding in Grace 

HovsepiantsBefore being elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian (1867-1952) served as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America during the turbulent years following the assassination of Archbishop Ghevont Tourian in New York in 1933. Born in Artsakh, Armenia, he earned graduate degrees from the best universities in Europe, encouraged the Armenian troops on the front lines of the Battle of Sardarabad, chaired the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Yerevan State University, led pioneering archaeological expeditions in western Armenia, published learned books on the art of medieval Armenian manuscript illumination, and previously obscure chapters in Armenian history, and inspired countless people through his preaching and teaching. Through it all Hovsepian tirelessly summoned his flock to rise up from pettiness and division, and to embrace the dignity, richness, and eternal values of Christian life as embodied in Armenian art, culture and history and above all, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.

On this occasion a volume of selected essays and sermons by the Catholicos, translated for the first time into English by Dr. Ervine and Fr. Findikyan, has been published. Those present for the symposium will receive a complimentary copy of Toward Light and Life: Reflections of Catholicos Karekin Hovsepian.

The March 24 conference starts at 10:30 a.m. (10 a.m. check-in) and concludes at 4 p.m., with a light lunch served at midday. The symposium and lunch are free and open to all interested.

Please contact St. Nersess Seminary at (914) 273-0200 to reserve your seat. SPACE IS LIMITED.

The event has is generously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Berge and Vera Setrakian.