Armenian culture. The Armenian alphabet was developed, at royal instruction, by Mashtots and Sahak during the early fifth century. An ambitious translation project from Syriac was undertaken. Many early Syriac texts were translated into Armenian, followed by significant Greek and later Arabic works. Thus Armenian language texts preserve Christian and Jewish texts that were otherwise lost, including works by Philo, Irenaeus, Ephrem, Severian of Gabala and Nonnus of Nisibis, among others. Original literature was also produced. Early Armenian Christian writers include Agathangelos, Korium, Eznik of Kolb, Lazar P'araec'i, Moses of Khorene and Gregory the Illuminator.

It is also as part of this struggle for national identity over against its neighbours that the sixth-century decisions about the theological identity of the Armenian church need to be understood. In 506, the Armenian patriarch John I Mandakuni hosted at the Armenian political capital of Dvin a synod to evaluate the theological decisions of the Council of Chalcedon (451).26 The council included representatives of the Georgian and other ethnic Caucasus churches in addition to the Armenians. They rejected the Chalcedonian creed, being troubled by the language of the 'two natures'. The Armenian church remained a Miaphysite church although the others would, under pressure, return to the Byzantine fold. This theological independence was encouraged by political concerns. Byzantium had designs on Armenia. Byzantium was, however, unable to protect Armenia from military incursions from the south or southeast. Therefore the theological animosity was politically useful as it freed Armenia from the opprobrium of perceived identity with the Byzantine empire. Since the fourth century, the Armenian church has served to unite Armenians against foreign pressures and influences.


The conversion of Georgia is ascribed, by the historian Rufinus who claims to have heard it from a Georgian priest in about 395, to the efforts of a Christian Cappadocian slave woman, Nino, whose healing gifts were brought to the attention of Queen Nana. She healed the queen through prayer and investiture with her cloak and was also instrumental in saving the king, Mirian, when he was on a hunting expedition. Both were converted. At Nino's instruction a church was built at Mcxeta about 330. Byzantine priests were solicited as teachers, who brought the Georgian church and state into a more constructive

26 See K. Sarkissian, The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian church.

27 P. Peeters, 'Le debut du christianisme en Georgie'; D. M. Lang, The Georgians; on the development of theological literature, see R. P. Blake, 'Georgian theological literature' andM. Tarchnisvili, Geschichte derkirchlichen georgischen Literatur.

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