(c. 240-332), who converted King Tiridates III in the late third or early fourth century. At that point Christianity became the state-supported religion; many of the sons of earlier Armenian religious leaders became clergy and resources were made available for the support of the clergy. Schools were established to teach Greek and Syriac. This transition took place in the face of a resurgent Zoroastrianism in the Sassanid Persian empire and at a time when the Parthian influence in Persia had been largely eradicated.

The first successor to Gregory the Illuminator was his son, Aristakes, a monk, who represented the Armenian church at the Council of Nicaea (325), Gregory being too old to make the trip. It was, however, the Athanasian Creed that was first promulgated as normative for the Armenian church.25 Aristakes and other church leaders were killed by Armenian princes who attempted to suppress Christianity. Aristakes was succeeded by his brother Vartan, who accordingto the Armenian historians made dyinginbattle against the Persians the equivalent of martyrdom. Houssik, the grandson of Gregory, was also consecrated at Caesarea of Cappadocia, but his efforts to achieve social justice in Armenia angered King Tiran who sought to replace him before he himself was captured, blinded and replaced by Sapor II of Persia. The new king, Arshak, named the great-grandson of Gregory, Narses, as leader of the Armenian church. However, the turmoil in the leadership of the church continued during the fourth century because of pressures from the Persian and Roman empires, and the conflict between the church and Armenian leaders over what the bishops considered moral lapses.

When Armenia was divided into spheres of influence between Theodo-sius and Sapor III (regn. 384-9), two-thirds of Armenia was given to the Persians. Christians in Armenia were persecuted and partly because of this the Armenians revolted, appealed to Theodosius, and eventually won from the Persians (between about 420 and 439) the title of king for their leader, freedom of religion and some economic benefits. Despite the turmoil, the Armenian church was represented at the Councils of Constantinople (381) and Ephesus (431). Within Armenia, synods were held to condemn both the Messalians, also known as the Paulicians, and the resurgence ofZoroastrianism under the influence of the Persian Mazdaean clergy.

It is in this context that the development of the Armenian alphabet and the restoration of the ecclesial hierarchy need to be understood. In an effort to limit the foreign influence and resultant political implications, the decision was made to develop the Armenian infrastructure of the church and

25 P. Gatherdjian, Defidei symbolo, 51-62.

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