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Armenian Christianity

John A. McGuckin

Subject Religion

Key-Topics chronicles and histories, churches, clergy, liturgy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


Although there may have been missionaries working in Armenia from earlier times (Dionysius of Alexandria speaks in a letter of 260 ce about Bishop Meruzanes of Armenia [Eusebius, H.E. 6.46.2] and also tells that the Armenians were Christian in the time of Maximin's persecution in 312: H.E. 9.8.2.), the Armenian Church symbolically traces its evangelization to the work of St. Gregory the Illuminator, who was ordained by the archbishop of Cappadocia in Caesarea in 314 and who baptized the Armenian King Trdat IV (Tiridates, r. 298–330). Later traditions also speak of the mission of the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the country. The Armenian relationship with Cappadocia was always close in ancient times, which itself was a see that had strong links with Syrian Church traditions. The history of the Church of Georgia was at times also closely bound up with it, until divergences over the Council of Chalcedon in the 6th century drove them apart. The chief see of the new Armenian Church was settled by Gregory at Ashtishat near Lake Van, and for a considerable time after him the office of senior bishop, or Catholicos , was held in succession by members of his own family. In 390 the Byzantine and Persian empires subjugated Armenia, which lay at the critical juncture between both of them (a liminal fate which accounted for many of its later vicissitudes) and divided its territories ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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