Concerning on Christianization of Caucasus's nations

 Zurab Kananchev

 Last year was not only the end of second millennium, at the same time it was 2000- millennium of Christianity. For the short period of time from the moment of its appearance, Christianity with the efforts of their preachers spreaded in some eastern countries. In this connection more interesting and actual question becomes a problem of christianization process in eastern states and recognition by them of Christianity as a state religion. In historical literature it is accepted to consider the beginning of IV century , when Christianity acquired a status of state religion of Roman Empire. This fact was registered in the range of edicts by Roman emperors. In such a way, on 30th of April of 311 in Nikomidiya Galeriy issues an edict about toleration, after which were canceled all repressive measures against Christianity. Christians were allowed to live in accordance with their belief, construct churches (F.I. Uspenskiy. History of Byzantine Empire, th. 1 St. Petersburg 1913., p. 79). The second and more loyal with respect to Christians by resolution was accepted in July of 313 so called Milan edict by Konstantin the Great and Litsiniy. According to this edict Christianity was given a status of one the official religion of Roman Empire. In the text of Milan edict , particularly, was said: "We resolved to grant Christians and all others the rights of free confession of belief which they prefer" (Citation by: History of ancient Rome. St. Petersburg, 1998., p.817). Acceptance of this resolution was considered not only like important political measure, reasonability of this step was caused by concrete situation of the beginning of IVc., this recognition of Christianity was dictated by historical necessity. With Konstantin the Great (306-337) starts the process of jointing of government with church, therefore was officially accepted victory of church and defeat of government. In this connection there was caused a fact that by Armenian historians was brought a conception, by which in Armenia Christianity was already recognized as state religion in 301 (S.T.Yeremyan Armenian in crisis's period of slave-holding society and formation of feudal relations. In the book Esssays on USSR's history (III-IXcc) Moscow, 1958., p. 168; G.Avakyan. Armenian apostolic church, its place in modern Armenian society. "Central Asia and Caucasus" No 2 (3) 1999 p. 168). We suppose that this fact is completely wrong, scientifically baseless and that is why at the base of sources we try to prove absurdity of that dating. We also consider, that our proof has principal character, as for today Armenia tries to take themselves a historical role in Christian world. First preachers of Christianity in Armenia were saint apostles Varfolomey and Faddey. So, Albanian historian Moissey Kalankatuysliy informs the following: "We, citizens of East, got St. apostle Faddey, which after his arrival to Armenia to Artaz area, got a decease of martyrdom from Armenian tsar Sanantruk". Favstos Buzand called Armenian tsar Sanantruk an apostle-killer (History of Armenia of Favstos Buzand. Yerevan, 1953., p.7). Together with apostle Faddey were harassed his five students (V.A. Abaz. History of Armenia. St. Petersburg. 1888., p.105). One of St. Fadey' s students Elisey, who was rescued from violence, after his arrival to Jerusalem, told to co-apostols about harassing death of his teacher. And here in Jerusalem, he relies upon patriarch Iakov and gets instead East: (F. Mamedova. Political history and historical geography of Caucasian Albania (III c. B.C. - VIII A.D. Baku "Elm" 1986. p223-224). Futher Moisey Kalankatuyskiy informs, that "...directed the way from Jerusalem to Persia, leads to mascuts, to avoid Armenia , and begins to preach Gog..." (History of Agvan Moisey Kalankatvatsi. th.6, p.6). By passing of Armenia and unwillingness to preach here, creates an impression that this country was not ready for perception of Christ's teaching. Apostles Varlofomey and Faddey preached not only in Maly Asia, i.e. in Armenia, but also in Caucasus, Caucasian Albania. If to lead parallels, we can note that differing from Armenia, in Caucasian Albania Christianity not only found a support in people, but also, as Moisey Kalankatuyskiy informs, "... saint high priest (Elisey), after his arrival to Gis (Kish), established a church, and brought bloodless sacrifice (at this place raised our first churches, ------ and enlightenment)" (History of Agvan Moisey Kalankatvatsi. th.3, p. 7). So, Armenia in the period of initial spreading of Christianity, was a land, where this religion didn't find its followers. Acception of Christianity as a state religion by Armenia is connected with the name of Armenian tsar Tiridat III and parfenian St. Grigoriy Enlightener. Concerning exact time of this event , it is necessary to find out roots of date's appearance - 301. As we suppose this dating came as a result of information from Moisey Khorensliy about the fact that accession of Tiridat III in Armenia is related to 3 year of roman emeror's ruling Diokletian (284-305) - (History of Armenia of Moisey Khorenskiy. Translation N.O. Emin. M., 1893 p. 127). At this base there is a conclusion about the fact that advent of Tiridat to Armenia was in 287. Together with Tiridat to Armenia came Grigoriy Enlightener whom Armenian tsar incarcerated him into the hole. The time in incarceration define in 14 years, after what St. Gregory was released and started to preach Christianity. In such a way, to the date of advent and accession of Tiridat in 287 add these 14 years and we are in 301. Substantiating this date, S.T. Yeremyan intentionally connects accession of Tiridat III and signing of Nisibin peace to 287 (S.T. Yermenyan. p.168). Although it generally known that Nasibin peace was signed in 298. In the same publication S.T. Yeremyan after 18 pages indicates the exact date of Nisibin peace agreement. (p.186). Therefore, the date of Christianity's acceptance is related to the date of Tiridat's accession and signing of peace agreement in Nisibin. We should pay our attention to the real date of Tiridat III coming to Armenia. As source informs, after the capture of Armenian territory by Sasanid Iran Armenian nakharars Artavazd Makdakuni and Tiridat III run to Rome under the protection of emperor (History of Armenia of Moisey Khorenskiy, p 121-122). To the name of roman emperor Diokletian is related accession of Tiridat (History of Armenian nation from ancient times to nowadays. Under the edition M.G.Nersesyan. Yerevan, 1980, p. 60). But the date we should consider as his accession to the throne is not 287 but 298. As precisely that year was signed for a period of 40 years Nisibin peace agreement between Rome and Iran, by which Armenia referred to the sphere of Rome's interests (History of Ancient World: Decline of ancient societies. edition 3. M., 1989., p 279). The confirmation of this date is the fact that sources do not mention about Tiridat during the period of invasion of Sasanid's army to Armenia in 295., also there is no information about him in battle in 297 in Bosven area, from Armenia there participated Artavazd Mamikonyan (S.T. Yeremyan. p.186), in this period of time Tiridat in Armenia is not mentioned. An absence of date about Tiridat during such a complicated moment of Armenia's history proves that Armenian tsar appears here not in 287, and only after signing as agreement, i.e. in 298. This data is accepted today by numerous of historians, including Armenian also (Mesrob K. Krikorian, The formation of canon law of the Armenian church in IV-th century// The Christianisation of Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Albania). Resumes; Appeal of Georgia. 1989. p.62; History of Armenian nation from ancient times till today, under edition M.G. Nercesyan, Yerevan., 1980., p.60) Acceptance of Christianity in 301 couldn't take place according to the following reasons. Diokletian in 303-304 starts to lead antichristian actions, which mentioned in the history under the name of "Great persecutions". He issued 4 edicts, directed against Christians and had a purpose of trial to renew prestige of previous religion. The Christian church itself in III-in the beginning of IV appears as ideological rival of Roman official ideology, after that collision of church with government during this period was mediated by political moments. First edict of Diokletian ordered to banish Christians from public service, and also sanctioned destroyment of churches. The second edict required from Christian priesthood to perform a rite of sacrifice to roman Gods - refusal was punished by imprisonment. The third edict guaranteed a freedom to Christian priesthood, which will bring sacrifices for God. The fourth one obliged all citizens of empire to perform sacrifice - for the refusal of this edict's performing there were used repressive measures, which were mass and bloody (V.A. Fedosik. p.9, p.46-47; The World History. th.2 M., 1956., p. 743). In accordance with those events, which happened in Rome, by Tiridat II (298-330) also were undertaken persecutions for Christians. Persecutions in Rome and Armenia were interconnected, for "Both of monarchs considered Christianity as corrupting element ... and tried to avoid it" (History of Armenian nation from ancient times till nowadays., under the edition M.G. Nersesyan. Yerevan, 1980., p.88). So in "History of study about church's fathers" it is said: "Armenian tsar wanted to be obedient to the case of Diokletian and wished to support brutal persecution of Christians". (Historical study about church's fathers th. 1., St. Petersburg, 1859., p.156). At once after coming to Armenia in 298 Tiridat put on racks of Grigoriy Enlightener and for the refusal to worship heathen gods was put into the hole for 15 years. (N.Y. Marr. Christening of Armenians, Georgians, Abkhazians, Alans by St. Grigorian. Arabian version Agafangel. ZVO, 1905., th. XVI, p.67-71). Persecutions of Christians by Tiridat III in 303-304 is connected with the names of Ripseme, Gayane and 32 nuns. For defining of arrival date to Armenia and acception of martyrdom by saint maidens a great role plays an information of Agafangel. In the letter of Diokletian to Tiridat it is said that: We inform you about everything what was caused to us with respect to Christians." (N.Y. Marr.). In such a way, this letter could be written by him in the period of "Great Persecution", i.e. in 304. In the same message Diokletian requires from Tiridat to find and bring back to him Repseme, to whom Diokletian decided to marry: "Try to find them, kill people which are with her and bring her back to me!" (p. 77). If Armenian tsar would like Ripsime he was allowed to get her to himself. Tiridat ordered to find and bring to him maidens. After that he takes an opportunity to outrage upon Ripsime. Among Christian maidens was widely spreaded a vow of celibacy. For Kiprian maidens are like peculiar moral ideal (V.A. Fedosik). The carnaging over "Christ's fiancees" for refusing to have intimacy with Armenian tsar was very savage. In such a way, imprisonment of Grigoriy Enlightened in 298 and conferring of excruciating death of saint maidens in 304 - are the links of the one chain. Tiridat in consequence carried our a political order of his master Diokletian. Historical reality, logic of events of that time confirms that in 301 Tiridat couldn't be Christian Enlightener as it was not in accordance with his politics towards Christians, particularly, to maidens, which instead of refuge found a death there. According to the data of Agafangel, after execution of saint maidens, Tiridat got madness "... And he started to eat his own meat" (N.Y. Marr. p. 91). After when his sister Kusarodukt insisted for getting a freedom of St. Grigoriy, Tiridat recovered the last. This event most probably took place in 313. Originated from the date of imprisonment of Grigoriy Enlightener in 298 and from the period which he passed in the hole, i.e. 15 years, we can calculate - 298+15=313. In the same year Grigoriy Enlightener with preach of Christianity moves around Armenia together with Tiridat. There are mentioned the following points of their visit: Til, Artasat, K-sat-n, Afrujia, Arzen, Mitredan and Derzan area (p, 119). For Armenians it was necessary to accept this religion, and refuse from heathenism. Recently government announced Christianity as illegal and gave a shrift to its followers. A special attention should be given to the fact that data of freedom of St. Grigoriy and the beginning of preach in Armenia coincides with the date of proclamation of Milan edict in 313. Most probably these events are interconnected. To consider 313 as the date of Christianity's proclamation as a state religion of Armenia can not be possible. There should be some more time before Grigoriy Enlightener was accepted as a bishop by Kessariy Bishop Leontiy. Church structure of different regions of Roman Empire had katekhumenat, which passed not less than 3 years. Katekhumens- are Christians, which didn't accept christening and that is why they did not have full rights for the church (V.A. Fedosik. p.27). Katekhumenat was a preparation of Christians for the christening and served for priesthood as an strong influence on simple members of Christian church at the initial stage of Christian enlighting. Katekhumenat formatted in Christians a belief in exclusiveness of the church. He was necessary as for the struggle with heathenism and also for the struggle with the herecy inside of Christianity.(p.27-28). Naturally, that Grigoriy Enlightener should know about this practice used in Roman Empire. We can suppose that the same thing also was used by Grigoriy Enlightener. This process of katekhumenat in Armenia, differing from other parts of Roman Empire, was less prolonged. According to our opinion a process of enlightenment in Christianity prolonged here about one year and only after that St. Grigoriy gave his approval to Tiridat to christen Armenians. The necessity to inflict Armenian tsar and Armenians for katekhumenat was stipulated by the fact that Crigoriy Enlightener watchfully related to the wish of Tiridat to accept Christianity. In his memory, possibly, he still had brutal relation of Armenian tsar towards him, as to Christian. Christening probably took place in 314. In this year on the river beach of Euphrates christened as ruling best specimens and also a part of population. So, 314 year as a year of official recognition of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia. In 315, having in disposal a flock, St. Grigoriy started to episcop, the confirmation for that is the following: "He episcoped from 17 year of Tiridat's ruling...." (S. Glinka. An overview of Armenian nation's history from the beginning of life and till revival of Armenian area in Russian Empire. pII. M., 1833., p 18-19). I.E. in 314 Armenia starts to be a country, which officially accepted Christianity, and from 315 St. Grigoriy prepared saint priests, giving them a direction "{ ... all over Armenian land." (N.Y. Marr. p.137). Together with Armenian tsar also accepted Christianity Albanian Tsar Urnair (F. Mamedova. work ment. above p.228) Caucasian Albania also officially accepted Christianity. Moisey Kalankatuyskiy informs: "....God visited human kind, lighted up the whole West via the Great Emperor Konstantin, and enlightened the Great Armenia via Tiridat. He (God) turned into belief the East, which already cognized saving appearance of real son..." (History of Agvan Moisey Kalankatvatsi. th. 9 p. 9-10). In such a way, to announce Armenia as first state which accepted Christianity is baseless. Concluding all mentioned above it is necessary to note: first, from the second half of IIIc. Armenia was in political dependance of Rome, and after signing Nisibin peace agreement Armenia officially was related to the sphere of Roman Empire's influence, it is also confirmed by the fact that Tiridat III ascened Armenian throne owing to Diokletian; second, Tiridat, for the reason that owing to Diokletian he ascened Armenian throne carried out identical politics towards Christians, especially it appealed during the period of "great persecution"; third, leading a political necessity, after the proclamation in 313 of Milan edict Tiridat III paid an attention to Christianity, and as the source indicates, "by its own will or enforce from aside first accepted Christianity". (History of Armenia Favstos Buzand Yerevan 1953 p., 31). Tiridat "tried to separate Armenia from heathen Persia" (History of Armenian nation p. I. From ancient times and till the end of XVIIIc. Yerevan., 1944., p.70), fourth, during the period of ruling of Konstantin the Great (306-337) Armenia paid tribute to Rome and there was no question about acceptance of such decision the proclamation of Christianity as a state religion with due regard for Rome; fifth date of official proclamation of Christianity as a state religion in Armenia is to be considered 314. In this connection we consider expedient to indicate to the disparity of reality of that time the trial of Armenian historians to date an acceptance by Armenia the Christianity in 301. The purpose of Armenia to make the date of Christianity more ancient is just once more loudly to declare about their existence. Celebrating so-called 1700 anniversary of Christianity's acceptance , Armenian claim architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania as their own, particularly, Albanian Gandzasar cathedral XIIIc. So they make suitable historical facts in favor of their political ambitions. It is appropriate to mention the words of Avraam Lincoln: "We can always lie to one person, we can some time lie to all people, but we can not all the time to lie to the whole nation". This statement can be related to the activity of Armenian "historians from politics", to whom peculiar to falsify historical facts. We can only guess what else Armenian historians prepare for us.

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