A new discovery of the Armenian version of the Chronicle of Eusebius

Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan

In 1782 the Constantinopolitan Armenologist, Orientalist and translator George Dpir Ter Yovhannisean (1737-1811), known under the surname George Dpir Palateci, discovered the Armenian version of the "chronicle"of Eusebius and made this useful source for the study of early Christian history in the orient and occident, whose Greek original has been lost, available in a more genuine form to the following generations.  George Dpir’s biographer, Ayvazean 1, tells us that George, who acted as the liason man between the Constantinople Patriarchate and the fraternity of the Mechitharists in Venice who had emigrated from Constantinople and united with Rome, made a trip to eastern Armenia to Šamaxi.  After a lavish meal with his host, with plenty of the local Madras wine, the guest in the night got thirsty and found ---- while searching for a water jug ---- a parchment manuscript with a tight leather cover which served in his host’s household as a lid for the water jug.  This Codex, via Jerusalem, arrived at Constantinople and then went to Yerevan, and since 1939 has been held in the Yerevan manuscripts institute, the Matenadaran under the shelfmark Cod.  Maten..  1904, and was the basis for the edition of Aucher, previously the only complete publication of the Armenian text (2 vols., Venice 1818).  It was copied by George Dpir, who has been called the forerunner of Armenian classical studies, in 1793; the copy was given to the cloister library of the Venetian Mechitharists at San Lazzaro.  The manuscript arrived there at Christmas 1794 and was catalogued under the number 931. 

Adolf von Harnack, the head of the  Patristic commission of the Royal PrussianAcademy of Science in Berlin, through his student Karapet Ter-Mkrtcean, the discoverer and publisher of the Armenian version of  the Proof of the Apostolic Preaching of Irenaeus of Lyons, had made a photographic reproduction of the Eusebius-model of Aucher.  This copy is stored today in the archive of the Berlin Academy of Science.  |256 

Yovhannes Vardapet Zohrabean or Zohrab, also a Mechitharist and the editor of the famous Zohrab Bible, the first attempt at a critical edition of the Armenian Bible, which appeared in 1805 in Venice, brought the copy prepared in 1793 to Venice.  Together with Angelo Mai he translated the Armenian text via Italian into Latin and published it for the first time in 1818 in Milan 2, shortly before the appearance of the Armenian-Latin Edition of Aucher.  The Orientalist Julius Heinrich Petermann prepared a new careful critical Latin translation, which appeared in 1875/1876 in the Berlin Eusebius edition of Alfred Schoene.  The German translation of the Armenian version by Josef Karst saw the light of the day in 1911 in Leipzig. 

In the middle of the 1980's in the Matenadaran (the institute for ancient manuscripts in Yerevan) work began under the direction of the ancient historian and philologist Geworg Abgarjan on a project to prepare a new edition of the Armenian text based on new discoveries relating to the chronicle of Eusebius in the manuscripts of the medieval Armenian historians.  Simultaneously the GCS series deputed Geworg Abgarjan to update the German translation of Karst by inclusion of material from the oldest paper-manuscript in the Matenadaran manuscripts collection (Cod.  Maten..  2679, of the year 981) containing a compilation of the chronicle.  Unfortunately he was not able to bring this intensive task to completion.  After his death in 1998, I took on this task.  Below I will shortly introduce the most important newer discoveries relating to the manuscript tradition of the Armenian version of this chronicle from the last few decades and report on the results of the previous unpublished work, and the state of progress of the new edition.

First some observations on the complete Armenian version of the chronicle, which is found in the above-mentioned Cod.  Maten.  1904.  This manuscript was dated to the 12th century by Mkrtič Awgerean (known in Europe under the latinized form of the name Baptista Aucher), the editor of the Armenian text, and by the monk and scholar Galust Ter-Mkrtčean who worked partly in Paris and Munich.  It seems fairly certain that the Armenian translation of the chronicle dates from the 5th century and was made directly from the Greek. 

When Petermann reported on the 17 August 1865 in the "Gesamtsitzung der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin" about the Armenian manuscripts of the chronicle, this widely traveled Codex was known under a quite different name. 

Petermann himself was unable to access the codex, which he knew as the "Jerusalem Codex";  it "was … highly desirable to examine the codex once again," we read in his corresponding publication in the "Monatsberichten der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften,", "this however is still missing, |257 and was probably concealed there in Constantinople out of fear of removal.  Also I did not succeed in the previous autumn [i.e. 1864 ---- ADA] to examine it there."3

Based on this report Josef Karst also writes in the introduction to his German translation:  The "journey of P[etermann] to C[onstantinople] was unsuccessful; confessional jealousy obstructed liberal sight of the Codex." 4  Neither Petermann nor Karst nor others have realised that the "Jerusalem Codex" in 1864 was not "still missing" and not concealed "in Constantinople out of fear of removal", but was in the monastic library at Etschmiadzin.5  We find its description in the Etschmiadzin library catalogue printed at Tiflis in 1863 (not 1865 as given by Petermann and Karst). Here we read: "Codex no. 1684 [now Cod.  Maten.  1904 ---- ADA] :  Chronographical history, or Chronicon … written 1695"6

This date, repeated by Petermann and Karst, is not correct, for, as Thomas Mommsen also noted, "the statement of the catalogue, that it was written in the year 1144 of the Armenian calendar = 1695 A.D., has reference to n. 1683 [now Cod.  Maten.  1725 ---- ADA], a copy of Eusebius' Church History, and was transferred by confusion to the following number"7.  Karst himself introduces three Codices in the introduction to his German translation:

Karst believes that the codices G (Jerusalem) and E derivate from one older archtype, while N (Tokat ms). represents a "partial entirely neglected copy of E"8.  Karst even used the 1898 photographic reproduction ordered by the "Berliner Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften" (ms.  E). 

In 1895 Thomas Mommsen had already compared all these manuscripts and had concluded, that the chronicle is transmitted to us via the manuscript E (= cod.  Maten.  1904) and both N (Tokat ms.  = Venice, Cod.  302) and G |258 (Jerusalem ms.  = Venice, Cod.  931, the copy made by Dpir in the year 1793) are copied from this.9 

Unlike Karst, Mommsen designates by "G" not a "Jerusalem codex", but rather "the manuscript copy prepared ca. 1790 on behalf of the Venetian Mechitharists, nominally from Jerusalem, and brought to the library of the Armenian seminary in Constantinople," which was in "Venice, in the Mechitharist monastery" and "carefully compared there by Petermann" 10

Mommsen noted, that the so-called "Jerusalem Codex" (ms. "G" in Karst) was at that time in Etschmiadzin (today in Yerevan ---- ADA) and is the same one, that was in 1696 in Tokat 11

The exciting odyssey of the Armenian chronicle manuscript causes confusion even today.  Defective statements about the manuscripts are also made in recent research. 

For example, this is shown by the title page of the 1970 monograph by Molly Miller The Sicilian Colony Dates, studies in Chronography: which includes a page from the Armenian chronicle-manuscript.  The manuscript's number (now 1904) and the date of the translation (5/6th century) of the chronicle are not in line with the latest research.  12 |259 

This means that the future edition of the Armenian text of the chronicle should be based only on the Cod.  Maten. 1904.  Naturally the critical apparatus should also indicate next to this the complete or fragmentary copies in the different libraries.  These codices are also to be used in the future edition of the Armenian text of the chronicle as auxiliary materials. 

In addition Aucher's edition was not correctly estimated by his European colleagues. The distinguished Armenian scholar Awgerean, an outstanding connoisseur of ancient Armenian, Latin and Greek, created an edition which has endured for long time, which contains simultaneously the original Armenian text, a Latin translation of the Armenian text and the Greek fragments (Synkellos etc).  Unfortunately the introduction of the German translation does not express a corresponding appreciation.  Josef Karst writes: "the first and previously only original edition, that of Aucher in 1818 … was published, cannot be considered very critical, because it did not consider … the better codex E.  As a result of this, the work of Aucher suffers … unfortunate weaknesses…, so, that its translation by the Armenist Saint-Martin and after this by Niebuhr must bear the reproach of superficiality and unreliability." 13 This unfavorable judgment of the Aucher edition is unfair since it does indeed also use codex E (= cod.  Maten..  No. 1904). 

As regards the Latin translation, the judgements of Saint-Martin and Niebuhr 14 are unconvincing.  Niebuhr reviews the edition of Aucher without being able to compared the translation with the text.  The Armenianist Saint-Martin, intending to surpass one of the most thorough connoisseurs of the Armenian language, who had himself committed various gross sins of grammar, did not recognise that a principle of translation was at stake.  The Latin translation of Zohrab-Mai was made from an Italian translation of the Armenian by Zohrab, and polished; i.e. the Italian text has been wrapped in a good Latin expression, while for Aucher the language of the source text was decisive.  He tried to represent the Armenian text without consideration of the Latinity as closely as possible.  A comparison of the Aucher edition with the Yerevan Cod.  Maten. 1904 shows only a couple of small lacunae which Karst filled up in the German translation. 

Now I come to the promised new discovery.  As mentioned above, Geworg Abgarjan discovered about 20 years ago, that in the famous oldest paper manuscript of the Matenadaran, whose millennium was celebrated in 1981 (Cod.  Maten..  2679), there is a compilation from the Eusebius-chronicle.  This manuscript of the cloister library of Etschmiadzin was known to German philology as Cod.  Etschmiadzin  102 through the description in the introduction of the chronicle of Hippolytus, |260 found in Etschmiadzin until the removal of this library into the Yerevan Matenadaran.  In Yerevan, it got then the inventory number 2679.  As well as the chronicle-compilation, this manuscript contains works of Armenian and Greek and Christian-oriental authors and church fathers, as well as Philo of Alexandria, Hippolytus, Eusebius of Caesaria, Epiphanius, Ephrem the Syrian, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Timothy of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Great, Eusebius of Emesa and others. 

It is not known, by whom and when the compilation was assembled.  Based on the character of the available orthographical mistakes, one can assume that the compilator used an old, and almost indecipherable manuscript.  Especially distorted are the names of people and places unknown to the scribe.  Nevertheless some passages, which are missing in the complete version of the chronicle, are found in the compilation.  That these passages do really belong to the Eusebian chronicle can be shown by comparison with authentic passages in the Latin translation of Jerome and in the chronicle of Samuel Anec'i (12the century).  For example Aucher supplements that a section of the chronicle missing in Ms. 1904 using the corresponding passages from the Latin translation of Hieronymus (e.g. Aucher vol. 2, p.62-88; cf. Jerome [GCS Eusebius 7, 20-33, Helm)  and from the chronicle of Samuel Anec'i.  This passage is also available in the 300 years older compilation in Ms. 2679, pp. 201ab-202a (however Josef Karst has not translated this addition of Aucher's).

Therefore simultaneously the gap in the Armenian version can filled and the authenticities of the corresponding passages in Jerome is proven. 

The compilation is not in tabular form, but rather is written consecutively.  It begins with the information on the ten Chaldaean kings (in Aucher vol.  1, chapter 1, p. 14-16) and ends with the Romans (Aucher vol.  1, p. 392) whereby the compiler, excerptor or epitomator simultaneously uses both the first, narrative part of the chronicle and the second, tabular part (Chronicon-canon) for his abridged version.  This summary is important to supplement the gaps in the previously known Armenian version and for the correction of some numerals, persons and place names. 

Josef Karst was obliged to create a hypothesis for the defective reproduction of names occuring in the Armenian translation which would not have been necessary if he had had the text of the new discovery available to him.  In the introduction of his German translation, he wrote: "Also there is an attempt throughout in the transcription of the proper names to make the strange sounding words form in bite-sized pieces, to adjust them to the laws of sound of Armenian, to a certain extent to Armenianise it."15 As an example of the Armenianisation he adduces the surname "dictator", that is represented in the Aucher edition as "Dikator" and sees therein a "dissimilation or removal of sound"16.  But this example emphasized by Karst is only a mistake in simple transliteration of the name, as it is given correctly ("Diktator") in the new find. |261 Moreover the form "Dikator" also appears in the Greek in Synkellos and Hesychios 17

Also the new discovery gives us criteria to determine the date when the Armenian version of the chronicle was made, and on the question of from which language it was translated.  Petermann gave the opinion, "that the Armenian translation of the Eusebian chronicle, and consequently also the second part of it … without doubt comes from the 5th century A. D."  This, he wrote, "both editors, Zohrab and Aucher, and the evidence itself from the same century.  Both scholars agree, that the Armenian version was translated directly from the Greek text and represented the original text usually so literally that, wherever this is lost, it can easily be recreated from the Armenian." 18

Josef Karst disagreed because he dated the two first authors who quote the Eusebius-chronicle, Moses of Chorene and Lazar P'arpec'i to the 7-8th century.  Therefore he was certain that "the age of the Armenian version is not much older than the VIIth  century" and supposed as a terminus post quem for the origin of the translation the last decades of the 6th century. 19  While there are still some doubts as to the date of Moses of Chorene (usually 5th century), no-one today doubts the date of Lazar P'arpec'i.  This historian lived in the 5th century A.D. and knew the Armenian translation of the chronicle. 

As for the Syriacisms especially noticeable in the second part of the chronicle (in the canon), it should not be forgotten that many Syriacisms in the old Armenian translations had become rooted in and a component part of the Armenian language itself.  The presence of these cannot be used as a specific of the translation of the chronicle. 20 

In my opinion the new, updated Eusebius edition in the GCS series should represent a parallel German-Armenian edition, with the updated Armenian critical text of the chronicle and the revised translation of Josef Karst.  In the critical apparatus of the Armenian text, the witness of the new discovery and the fragments in other Armenian authors should be included.  As well as Lazar P'arpec'i (5th century), Moses of Chorene (the dating sways between 5th and 9th century) and other historians mentioned by Aucher and Karst (Asolik, Samuel Anec'i, among others), the Eusebius fragments in the following authors should also be collated: Yovhannes Sarkawag, a philosopher, mathematician and poet of the 10-11th century; also the historians |262  of the 13th century Yovhannes Awagerec'i, Kirakos Ganjakec'i (who lists "the Great Euseb" in the series of historians, whose works are transmitted as living monuments of their authors to following generations) and Vardan Arewelc'i; the historians of the 14th century Step'anos Orbelean and Nerses Palienc'i as well as David Bališec'i, an author of the 17th century.  Geworg Abgarjan located further traces of the Eusebius transmission in Armenian manuscripts: in the theologian, philosopher and educator Esayi Nc'ec'i, chancellor of the Glajor-university (13th century, mss. Maten.  1241, 5566), in Vanakan Vardapet (Codices Maten..  3074, 1254) as well as in a further anonymous compilation (Cod.  Maten.  5254), whose chronicle is ascribed to Philo of Alexandria, and which is identical to that found in ms.  2679 next to the new discovery of our Eusebius compilation.  This chronicle was partly published in 1929  in Leipzig and in 1944 in Yerevan as the work of the universal scholar of the 7th century, Ananias of Shirak 21.  In the mean time he has also determined that the real chronicle of Ananias, which he himself mentioned in his work on Easter and which is also referred to in later sources is lost.  The author of the work published under this name is another historian of the 7th century.  This is the third early historian known to us after Lazar P'arpec'i and Moses of Chorene that used Eusebius. 

The chronicle of  Eusebius served Armenian authors as an original source from the 5th until the 17th century.  Sometimes these authors used more complete copies of the chronicle than we have.  In the codex Matenadaran 5254 mentioned above for the year 1280, it says: "and after him his son Asardon ---- 8 years".  In the published Armenian version the name of Asardon is missing (Karst p. 14). 

The Armenians did not only use the tabular form of the Eusebian chronicle and the label "Chronographical canon", but also in Cilician-Armenian in the 12th century they placed relevant excerpts from Eusebius at the top of each book of  the old testament.  These Eusebius excerpts should be used in the new complete edition.  This was and remains the long-term program of the edition.

In the short-term we have decided with the editorship council of the GCS-series to publish first of all a German-Armenian Edition of the new discovery (the compilation or shorter edition of the chronicle) including the updated introduction and commentaries of Geworg Abgarjan, in order to make the research into the new discovery known. 


[This is a rough and unofficial translation by Roger Pearse of the paper, made so that monoglot anglophones like me can read it, and so to encourage a wider interest in this project. Anyone who needs to rely on this information should consult the German original: Dr Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan, Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik, published in Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik, ed. Martin Wallraff, pp.255-262.  Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter (2006).  ISBN-13 (978) 3-11-019105-9.]

1.  Cf.  A. Ayvazean, Šar hay kensagrowt 'eanc '(Armenian biographies series) I, K. Polis (Constantinople) 1893, 11-73. The German Orientalist Julius Heinrich Petermann (1801-1876) speaks about "Lector Georg, a learned Armenian from Constantinople” (J.  H. Petermann, Über die bis jetzt vorhandenen Texte und übersetzungen der armenischen Chronik des Eusebios/On the existing text and translations of the Armenian chronicle of Eusebius, in:  Monatsbericht der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, August 1865, Berlin 1865, 457-458). 

2.  Eusebii Pamphili Caesarensis Episcopi Chronicorum canonum libri duos.  Opus ex Haicano codice a Johanne Zohrabo expressum et castigatum.  Angelus Maius et Johannes Zohrabus nunc primum coniunctis curis latinitate donatum notisque illustratum additis graecis reliquiis ediderunt Angelo Mai et Johannes Zohrab, Milan 1818.  Reprinted in:  Scriptorum veterum nova Collectio 8, Rome, 1833, pp.1-406 and PG 19, 99-598. 

3. H. Petermann (n.  1), 459 ff., cf. also Eusebii Chronicum libri duo, ed.  A. Schoene.  Armenicam versionem latine factam ad libros manuscriptos recensuit H. Petermann.  Graeca fragmenta colligit et recognovit, appendices chronographicas sex adjecit A. Schoene, Berlin 1875/76, vol.II, p. xlviii.

4.  J. Karst, Die Chronik des Eusebius aus dem Armenischen übersetzt, GCS Eusebius works 5, Leipzig 1911, p.xvi, n. 2. 

5.  Others have written on the "concealing" of the manuscript, cf.  N. Rozanov, Evsefij Pamfil, Moskva 1881, 16. 

6. Th.  Mommsen, Die armenischen Handschriften der Chronik des Eusebios, Hermes 30, 1895, p. 322. 

7. Mommsen, Die armenischen Handschriften (n. 6), 321. 

8. Karst, Chronik (n.  4), p.x; p.xiii.  According to Karst the manuscript N was acquired in 1856 by father Nerses Sargisean for the Venetian Mechitharist library (p. xiii, n. 3) and represents a copy of E.  According to Mommsen, the manuscript E was in 1696 in Tokat (Mommsen, p. 335, n.  6).  For Mommsen, there was only one ms.  (E), of which Georg's copy (G) and the Tokat copy (N) were just copies.  For Karst on the other hand E and G (Jerusalem) are two different mss., independent of one another, which both derive (Karst p. xiii) from an earlier archetype (Urtext). 

9. Mommsen, Die armenischen Handschriften (n.  6), 335 f.s.  Ms. no. 931 (G in Mommsen, copied by Lector Georg), in the manuscripts catalogue of the Venice Mechitharists by Sahak Mayr C'owc'ak hayeren  jeragrac' Matenadaranin Mxit'areanc' (Venice 1998, Bd.  8) is itemized under catalogue number 1548.  According to Petermann, a second copy of the chronicle arrived in Venice (probably N), in 1855, No. 302. According to this manuscript, it was a gift of the Archbishop of Amid, Minas, who was later patriarch of Jerusalem, to Archbishop Sahak of Tigranakert, which was transmitted via the "Superior of the cloister of Johannes of the Täufers, Vardapet Zacharias" through father Nerses to Venice.  The scribe of the manuscript was Michael of Tokat.  According to Petermann this manuscript (Ms.  N in Mommsen and Karst) is similar as regards the number of lines on the page (36), the number of pages (230) and the type of bookhand (Minuscule/Bolorgir), to the "Jerusalem" Codex (E in Mommsen, E + G in Karst).  See H. Petermann, Über die bis jetzt vorhandenen Text, p. 461 n.  3. 

10. Th.  Mommsen, Die armenischen Handschriften (n.  6), p. 321. Mommsen uses the same sigla as Karst (E, N, G), but for him G is not the original Jerusalem codex, which was copied twice by Georg Dpir in 1790 and 1793 (so Karst, Die Chronik, n.  4, xiv, n.  1), but rather the copy by Georg Dpir, that Dpir made from E (according to Karst and Mommsen), the single original manuscript, and sent to Venice (Mommsen p. 335). 

11.  Mommsen, Die armenischen Handschriften (n.  6), p.335. Unfortunately Karst did not know of Mommsen's valuable investigation.  Both Karst and Mommsen believed that N represents a copy of E.  But according to Mommsen E is the manuscript from which G was copied.  According to Mommsen, G and N are not just "closely related" (335).  They are two different copies of the same ms. E.  Unlike Karst (p. xiii), Mommsen suggests that N is an older and E a more recent copy.  Also Yakob Manandyan's article K'aluack'ner Eusebiusi Kesarac'u K'ronikonic' : mi hin jeragir (Notes on the chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, an old manuscript), Handes Amsoreay 19, 1905, 1-15 escaped the author of the German translation. 

12.  M. Miller, The Sicilian Colony Dates.  Studies in Chronography, New York 1970, p. 12.  G. Abgarjan showed definitely, that the Eusebian chronicle in the Armenian version is transmitted through a codex unicus (Cod.  Maten. 1904,  formerly no. 1724 in the cloister library of Etschmiadzin; in Mommsen E, in Karst E + G), reproduced in the copies in Venice from Constantinople (2 copies by Georg Dpir, of which the more exact and diplomatic copy is numbered 931) and Tokat (N).  Apparently this codex of Jerusalem arrived at Etschmiadzin after going via Tokat, Šamaxi and Constantinople. 

13.  Karst, Chronik (n.  4), XIV. 

14.  Karst refers to the "attacks" of St.-Martin in the "Journal des Savants", févr.  1820, 97-112 and B. G. Niebuhr on the treatise "Über den historischen Gewinn aus der armenischen übersetzung der Chronik des Eusebius", in: Abhandlungen der hist.-phil. Classe der Königl. Pr. Akademie der Wissenschaften 1820-21, Berlin 1822 and reprinted in: Kleine historische und philologische Schriften, Erste Sammlung, Bonn 1828, 179-304, speziell 180, n. 1 (Karst, Chronik [as n. 4], XIV, n. 2).

15.  Karst, Chronik (n.  4), XL. 

16.  Karst, Chronik (n.  4), XL. 

17.  For this reference I would like to thank Prof. William Adler who approached me after my presentation at the conference and placed at my disposal the "Dikator"-passages in Syckellos:  Sync.  284.22; 298.4; 301.22; 310.21 Mosshammer. 

18. Petermann, Über die bis jetzt vorhandenen Texte und übersetzungen der armenischen Chronik des Eusebios (n.  3), 458 ff. 

19.  Karst, Chronik (n.  4), XXXVII. 

20.  See S. Lyonnet, Les origines de la version arménienne et le Diatessaron, in:  Biblica et Orientalia 13, 1950, 111-114; L. Leloir, La version arménienne du Nouveau testament, in:  Die alten übersetzungen des Neuen Testaments, die Kirchenväterzitate und Lektionare, hg. v. K. Aland (Arbeiten zur Neutestamentlichen Textforschung 5), Berlin/New York 1972, 302-304; L. Ter-Petrosian, Die armenische übersetzung der Κατηχήσεις von Kyrill von Jerusalem, in: Eĵmiacin 11/12, 1981, 42-48 (arm.).

21. Hippolytus, Die Chronik, GCS Hippolytus works 4, Leipzig 1929, 394-396 (not in the 2nd ed. 1955); A. G. Abrahamyan, Anania Širakac'ow matenagrowt'yowne, Erewan  1944. 

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