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  • Églises en dialogue: Arméniens et Byzantins dans la seconde moitié du XIIe siècle by Isabelle Augé
  • Abraham Terian
Églises en dialogue: Arméniens et Byzantins dans la seconde moitié du XIIe siècle. By Isabelle Augé. [Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Vol. 633; Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Subsidia. Tomus 124.] (Leuven: Peeters. 2011. Pp. xxx, 317. €75,00 paperback. ISBN 978-90-429-2357-7.)

This publication is a revised version of Isabelle Augé’s dissertation, “Les discussions religieuses arméno-grecques au temps des catholicos Pahlawouni,” presented in 2008 at the Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III and directed by Gérard Dédéyan. The volume constitutes a thorough study of nineteen letters in Armenian pertaining to the dialogue on reconciliation between the Armenian and Byzantine Churches, initiated in 1165 by Nersēs IV Klayec‘i (nicknamed Šnorhali, the “Gracious”) during the Catholicosate of his elder brother Grigor III (in office 1113–66), whom he succeeded as Catholicos (in office 1166–73). The sustained efforts for reconciliation continued under Nersēs’s successor, his nephew Grigor IV Tłay (the “Youth,” in office 1173–93) and grandnephew Nersēs of Lambron (Archbishop of Tarsus, 1175–98). Eleven of these letters were to/from the Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (reigned 1143–80) and four to/from Michael III of Anchialus, patriarch of Constantinople (in office 1170–77). The preface by Jean-Pierre Mahé sets the larger historical context of the correspondence (pp. v-viii).

The study is divided into two major parts. The first part delineates the historical, dogmatic, and liturgical divide between the two churches that necessitated Šnorhali’s initiative (pp. 1–90). The second part consists of a finely annotated translation of the letters (pp. 91–243). The first ten letters are those of Šnorhali to the Byzantine authorities and their responses; the eleventh is his letter to the bishops and theologians of the Armenian Church. The remaining eight letters pertain to his successor, Grigor IV. Letters no. 12 to no. 17 are written to or are from the Byzantine authorities, letter no. 18 is from the Armenian bishops and theologians to Grigor IV, and letter no. 19 is his response to them. For all but one of these letters, Augé follows the text of the 1871 Jerusalem edition of Šnorhali’s Encyclicals. For the exceptional fifteenth letter, from Grigor IV to Manuel I, she follows the text published by Aršak Ter Mik‘elean (Ararat, 26 [1893], 25–48).

The volume has three lengthy appendices (pp. 245–303), composed of an annotated translation of Nersēs of Lambron’s assessment of the issues at stake, the demands and counter-demands made by both sides (cf. the table provided on p. 78); his 1197 dialogue with George II Xiphilinus, patriarch of Constantinople (in office 1191–98); and a well-outlined biography of Šnorhali. One wonders why the first and second appendices were not combined to make a third part of the study, so as to show [End Page 777] the aftermath of the once-sustained dialogue that came to a halt at the ill-fated Council of Hŕomklay in 1178, and why the third appendix was not incorporated into the introductory part.

Augé’s annotation is a model of clarity in presenting ancient documents, considering the debated theological issues. She focuses just as much on historical developments as she does on Christological nuances in differing positions between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians. She is good at analyzing the responsibility for the eventual failure of the attempts at reconciliation, the obvious intransigence on both sides: on the one hand, the mostly unyielding position of the Byzantines, with their demand that the Armenian Church agrees to the dictates of Chalcedon besides endorsing certain liturgical reforms, and on the other hand the unwarranted suspicion of the traditionalist bishops of the Eastern provinces of the Armenian highlands, ever concerned about the future of their “compromising” Church while the Catholicoi resided in Cilicia.

Still, her annotation of Šnorhali’s spelling out the Armenian Church’s historical understanding of the nature(s) of the Incarnate Word requires further clarification, for he was misunderstood by his own bishops in...


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