When looking over the “List of Greek Church Fathers” and the “List of Latin Church Fathers” in the Introduction to the UBS Greek New Testament, covering writers from Clement of Rome to John of Damascus (d. 750), did you ask, “Where’s the list of Armenian and Georgian Church Fathers?”
But an incomplete effort to improve the situation was made about 70
years ago when David Marshal Lang wrote Lives
and Legends of the Georgian Saints (Ó 1656 The Macmillan
1 – St. Nino and the Conversion of Georgia. This is drawn mainly from Histori Ecclesiastica (Church History) 10:11, by Tyrannius Rufinus (d. 410), and expanded by Georgian versions of Nino’s life which Lang describes as having “assumed their definitive shape” in the 900s-1000s.
A summary can be found at this link. A biography of St. Nino is here. This Georgian version of events includes the
narrative of Nino’s reception of the grape-vine cross when she had a vision of
the Virgin Mary, and the martyrdom of princess Ripsime, a description of the
idols of Armazi and Gatsi, and a story about Christ’s tunic, and about how King
Mirian and Queen Nana were converted in the days of Constantine.
2 – The Nine Martyred
Children of Kola. This account describes
the conversion and martyrdom of nine children in the 500s. Lang reports that it was drawn from a
The text includes an inexact quotation of either Matthew
19:29 or Mark 10:29 or Luke 14:26 (or an amalgamation of all three passages): “Whoever will not leave his father and
mother, his sisters and brothers, his wife and children, and will not take up
his cross and follow me, the same is not worthy of me.” The phrase about taking up one’s cross
appears to be thrown in from Mark 8:34. Matthew 19:29 does not mention one’s
wife in Codex Vaticanus – but this word should be included in that verse, as it
is not only in the Georgian text but also in an overwhelming number of
witnesses of all sorts.
Another citation is from Matthew 10:21, or Mark 13:12 (or
both): “Brother shall put brother to
death, and the father the son, and fathers and mothers shall rise up against
their children and kill them.” Another
interesting tradition that is mentioned in this source is that Jesus was
baptized at night.
The names of the
nine martyred children of Kola are given here.
More details about the martyrdom of St. Shushanik can be
4 – A Militant Ascetic: Peter the Iberian Bishop of Mayuma by Gaza. Lang’s account of the accomplishments of Peter the Iberian (who lived in the 400s) is mainly based on a Syriac translation of a Greek text composed by John Rufus, one of Peter the Iberian’s followers. The earliest manuscript of this Syriac text is from the 700s. Peter’s ministry covered a lot of ground: first he was stationed in Jerusalem, then in Mayuma-near-Gaza, then in Alexandria, then in Oxyrhynchus, then in Alexandria again, and also in the regions of Gaza an Arabia.
More about Peter the Iberian’s career is told by Cornelia
Horn in the book Asceticism
and Christological Controversy in Fifth-Century Palestine.
Eustace’s presentation of Archdeacon Samuel’s summary of
Biblical events has some embellishments; for example: the voice at Jesus’ baptism says, “This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.
Hear him and live.” The lame man who had been afflicted for 38
years (cf. John 5) was healed and “arose immediately and walked nimbly and glorified God.” When Jesus turned waters into wine, it was
“his disciples,” rather than the servants, who drew the water and filled the
jars. When Jesus feeds the five thousand,
it happens where there was “a beautiful meadow.” When Jesus walks on the water, according to
Archdeacon Samuel, “Christ and His
disciples walked on the sea as if on dry ground, and their feet were not
wetted.” At the raising of Lazarus,
when Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth,” Lazarus comes forth joyfully.
Archdeacon Samuel also skips any mention of Jesus’ trial
before Pontus Pilate, and focuses on the trial “before the high priests and
elders” before His crucifixion. The
account puts a somewhat anti-Semitic spin on things; instead of recording Jesus’
prayer from the cross, Archdeacon Samuel reports that Jesus said, “My Father, I
have fulfilled all things, and
eventually martyred, and his body is taken to the city of
Abo is depicted quoting from the Matthew 5:16 (without the phrase “in the house”), and when asked about his faith, he acknowledges that he was born a Saracen but when he learned the gospel, he rejected his former faith, “as being a man-made creed based on fables thought up by human subtlety and invention.”
Though threatened with torture, Abo was resolute and as his martyrdom approached he repeatedly expressed his faith in Jesus Christ, and he repeated (from Psalm 119) “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord,” and (from Luke 23:42) “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” Near the text’s conclusion, John 12:26b is cited in a slightly expanded form: “If anyone serve me, he will receive honour from my Father, which is in heaven.” This expansion corresponds to the form which the verse has in f13.
8 – Gregory of Khandzta and the Georgian National Revival. Gregory of Khandzta was not martyred; he lived to be 100 and died in 861. In this narrative of his life, a few New Testament passages are used, including Matthew 5:16 and Second Thessalonians 3:10b. Lang points out that Georgians assigned the beginning of the world to 5604 B.C., rather than the usual Greek 5508 B.C.
9 – The Georgian Athonites. This chapter begins with a brief review of the
careers of a few Georgians who resided at
The next part of this chapter is mainly a report of a
discussion between George the Athonite and the Patriarch of Antioch (Theodosius
III). More information about the
10 – The
Passion of Queen Ketevan. Queen
Ketevan was martyred in 1624. This brief
chapter describes how she was offered a choice between a place in the harem of
the king of
This is a book well worth acquiring and reading, not only
for some insights into the Georgian text of the New Testament, but also to gain
some historical information and edification.