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Ecrits apocryphes sur les apotres: Traduction de l'edition Armenienne de Venise, vol. 2, Philippe, Barthelemy, Thomas, Matthieu, Jacques frere du Seigneur, Thaddee, Simon, listes d'apostres.

This final work of Dom Leloir is a fitting tribute to his lifelong devotion to precise and careful scholarship in the field of the Christian Orient, and especially Armenia's role within that continuum. This second volume of translations comprises the remainder of the material published by it C'rak'ean in his Venice edition of 1904, most of which is presented to the wider public for the first time. Simultaneously, it affords a variety of assistance to Armenologists and students of the New Testament Apocrypha by laving foundations for the production of more critical texts and appraising their relation both to other traditions and to ecclesiastical developments in Armenia providing a context for certain singular versions or characteristic readings.

The inadequacy of the unique edition by contemporary standards is demonstrated from several perspectives. First of all its manuscript base is rather limited, the editor normally restricting his activities to witnesses locally available. Leloir supplements this with valuable documentation on codices in the major collections of Erevan, Vienna, and Jerusalem (vols. 10 and 11 of the St James Catalogue should also now be consulted). Moreover, his autopsy examination of materials in Paris brought to light new data which had escaped Macler's vigilance. Sometimes C'rak'ean's judgement is called into question over selecting the base text of a given piece. Thus, whereas MS V239 offers a better text of one form of the History of Thomas than the printed version of V731, when it in turn is chosen for the running text of the Martyrdom of Matthew, it adduces a range of secondary and solecistic variants. The collection presents a number of narratives according to V653, a nineteenth-century apograph of the venerable homiliary of Mus (copied in 1200-1202 from a ninth-century exemplar). However, as Leloir indicates, its value is impaired by the introduction of a significant amount of `correction' by the copyist, sometimes rather arbitrarily, as Garitte discovered in comparing their testimony to the Martyrdom of Thomas.

One is struck by the conspicuous diversity of material in this amorphous collection. Of the twenty pieces contained here, seven may be associated with specific Greek recensions and two with Syriac, while most of the rest appear to be indigenous compositions. The Syriac portions are both excerpted from the Doctrine of Addai, who is always identified with Thaddeus in Armenian tradition. The first represents an interpolation on the first invention of the cross by the emperor Claudius' wife, Patronice, after the manner of Helena, while the second is a secondary combination of two passages on the resurrection. Whereas the exemplar of three variants of the History of Thomas evinces regular affinities with the Syriac, Leloir points to a significant linguistic error heavily favouring a Greek origin.

Whereas some of the narratives represent faithful renderings of early date and are hence important for the textual criticism of the Greek original, the translator concludes that others developed in the medieval period. A remarkable instance of the former is a version of the Martyrdom of Philip in which the Armenian evidence is demonstrated to predate the extant division into three recensions. On the contrary, one of the four lists of apostles represented contains some unusual agreements with Latin tradition, such as identifying James the Less with the son of Alphaeus. Moreover, its reference to Matthias' martyrdom and burial in Rome is viewed as a late feature. Consequently, one might postulate its Armenian reception occurred during the Cilician kingdom which was in frequent Crusader contact. Indeed it was at that time that the Latin letter `f' was incorporated into the Armenian alphabet, a factor which provides a terminus post quem of the thirteenth century for a variant of the History of Thomas. There the person responsible for transferring the saint's bones is named Usuf, instead of the Yovsep' of earlier recensions.

Leloir also raises the important issue of the type of document in which these narratives circulated, and the function they fulfilled, as having impacted their extant form in various ways. Systematizing his findings, one observes three categories of material: translations, expansionist paraphrases, and abridgements, without suggesting that each text necessarily underwent three stages. A close resemblance was revealed between several of the abbreviated accounts and their counterparts in the synaxary (yaysmawurk') of Kirakos Ganjakec'i completed in 1269. A compelling reason for the compression would have been the extension of the sanctoral. Previously such texts had been transmitted in collections of festal homilies (tonakan) like the exemplar of Mug already mentioned. The materials were therefore distributed according to the commemoration of the day, explaining the presence of materials other than acts, such as the two extracts from the Doctrine of Addai which were employed in connection with the feast of the Holy Cross and a memorial to the dead respectively. It may be that the components for inclusion underwent some rhetorical elaboration of the discourses, prayers, and biblical allusions on entry to the collection. Further classification of the apostolic data must await a more thorough investigation of the relation between the homiliary and the four recensions of the synaxary.

With the increased prosperity contingent on renewed independence, the tenth-century burgeoning in monastic construction left its imprint on some of the traditions in order to gain prestige from apostolic association. As van Esbroeck has intimated, Bartholemew gained greater status nationally at this time as an apostle to Armenia. Thus an abbreviation of his martyrdom not only heightens the saint's power in withstanding torture and in the number of converts wrought by his preaching, but states his relics were conveyed to Albak, site of a later monastery. Similarly, a variant of the History of Thomas indicates his remains were transported to Manazkert after the overthrow of Julian the Apostate in accord with a vision and deposited at what became a monastery dedicated to his memory. One aspect of the antiquity of the above-mentioned Armenian version of the Martyrdom of Philip which Leloir notes is its retention of certain encratite features (though these are velied in another Armenian redaction). Developing Peterson's theory that the text issued from circles of Eustathian monasticism, it is worth commenting on the influence that it is thought to have exerted on the institutional reforms of catholicos Nerses (353-373).

Another facet to emerge is the uncontrolled proliferation of contradictory traditions which gradually accumulated in Armenia so that later treatments somewhat resemble patchwork quilts. With its reliable translation and the meticulous attention to detail manifested by the introductory matter, this fine volume will serve as an exemplary model to those who would seek to take up the task of unravelling the strands Leloir has so ably begun.
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Author:Cowe, S. Peter
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1994
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