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The Catholic Historical Review 89.2 (2003) 280-282

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Über die Entwicklungsgeschichte des armenischen Symbolums: Ein Vergleich mit dem syrischen und griechischen Formelgut unter Einbezug der relevanten georgischen und äthiopischen Quellen. By Gabriele Winkler. [Orientalia Christiana Analecta, Volume 262.] (Rome: Pontifical Oriental Institute. 2000. Pp. LX; 623; 14. Paperback.)

The present study is an investigation into the historical development of the creeds used today in the Armenian Church. Philological in approach, Winkler's study is divided into two parts. In Part One (pp. 11-291) the author has collated a comprehensive collection of early Armenian literary sources of various genres through the mid-seventh century, which contain creedal statements and fragments. For each of the more than the three dozen texts Winkler presents a short introduction, the original Armenian text in its best available edition, along with a German translation with copious notes and cross references. A number of relevant Georgian and Ethiopic texts receive similar treatment. A vast bibliography (pp. XXI-LX), a list of sigla, and a helpful introduction that already lays out the author's conclusions (pp. 1-5) constitute a preface to Part One.

Part Two (pp. 295-570) consists of a commentary in which the author traces the development of terminology used in creedal formulations with regard to the main thematic foci of the Nicene Creed, with particular attention to the incarnation. The volume closes with a short section entitled, "Concluding Observations," as well as an index by language of the sources analyzed; a topical index with the subheadings, "Anathemata," "Symbol Fragments in Anaphoras," and "Synods and Councils with Credo"; a one-page list of Bible citations, and an index of authors cited.

Winkler argues that in the oldest Armenian sources the Armenian vocabulary for the incarnation seems to derive from early Syrian prototypes, as distinct from the later Greek formulations that appear in the Nicene Creed. Winkler posits a "shift" in terminology for the incarnation away from Syrian-derived terms (for example, zgec'aw marmin, "he put on a body") toward the creation of neologisms that more accurately reflect Greek terminology for the incarnation (marmnac'aw, "he became/took body," corresponding to the Greek sarkôthenta). That shift, Winkler alleges, is first witnessed in the Nicene Creed as cited in the famous Letter of Sahak to Proclus, which must be dated shortly after the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. Winkler argues further that the Letter of Sahak was written in response to Proclus' famous Tomus ad Armenios at a Synod in Astisat in 435 A.D. This hypothetical reconstruction would provide a [End Page 280] plausible textual and historical context for the creation of Greek-inspired christological neologisms were it not for the serious questions that have long been raised regarding the course of events in Armenia immediately following the Council of Ephesus, most recently by Nina Garsoïan. Among other assertions Garsoïan dismisses the alleged Synod of Astisat as fictive, challenging the argumentation made by Winkler in two earlier works.

Winkler's examination of the sources reveals a second milestone, the mid-sixth century, around the time of the Second Synod of Duin (555 A.D.), when the Armenian Church definitively renounced Chalcedonian christology. It is at roughly this time that Winkler observes an increasing use of the neologism mardac'aw ("he became man") derived from the Greek enanthrôpysanta. Prior to this point, Winkler argues, Armenian creedal formulas were based on a version of the Nicene Creed found in the Didascalia or Teaching of the 318 Fathers, a work that circulated widely in the Christian East, to which Caspari, Hahn, and Muyldermans long ago drew attention. In this work and its Armenian derivatives a single assertion is made with respect to the incarnation: that the Son of God "took flesh" (sarkôthenta). Armenian sources after this date, according to Winkler, will tend to augment this assertion using the neologism mardac'aw ("he became man").

Winkler's theory of a shift in Armenian terminology...


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