The defining issue for Christendom in the period under discussion was undoubtedly one of ecclesiology. In the case of the Armenians this took the form of renewed debate with the other Christian traditions which had emerged in Byzantium, western Europe and the Near East in the course of late antiquity, when a common patristic matrix developed distinct constellations of doctrine, rite and order with characteristic emphases, forms and expressions.
The onset of the Arab period in Armenian history ushered in an era of consolidation inaugurated by the catholicate of Yovhan Ojnec'i (717-728).1 Synods reaffirmed Armenia's one-nature Christology, not only clarifying the distinctive Armenian doctrine of the incorruptibility of Christ's flesh in an Orthodox fashion, but also linking this doctrinally both to the joint celebration of the Nativity and Baptism of Christ on 6 January and to the use of unleavened bread and unmixed wine in the Eucharist.2 The structures of the institutional church, its sacraments and the legitimacy of its representational art were defended against the Paulicians, a widespread iconoclastic sect. Compilations on doctrine and canon law were drawn up and a greater sense of historical identity gradually emerged, which expressed itself in an expanded sanctorale, highlighting local saints, particularly martyrs, and celebrating their accomplishments in hymns, vitae and encomia.3 Of particular significance in this connection was the signal devotion among Armenians of all theological
1 A. Mardirossian, Le livre des canons arméniens (Kanonagirk' Hayoc') de Yovhannës Awjnec'i: eglise, droit et société en Arménie du IVe au VIIIe siecle [CSCO 606] (Louvain: Peeters, 2005).
2 S. P. Cowe, 'Armenian Christology in the seventh and eighth centuries with particular reference to the contributions of Catholicos Yovhan Ojnec'i and Xosrovik T'argmanic', Journal of Theological Studies 55 (2004), 30-54.
3 Mayis Avdalbegyan, 'Yaysmawurk" zdovacunera ev nranc' patmagrakan arzek'a ['Menologium' Compilations and their Historiographical Value] (Erevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1982), 122-36. For abrief overview of the oeuvre ofVardan Arewelc'i, the most prolific author in this field, see Norayr Polarean, Haygrotner [Armenian Writers] (Jerusalem: St James Press, 1971), 294-9.
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