Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

Georgian and Armenian monastic and cleric migrants and a transport of hagiographical texts between Late Antique Syria and Transcaucasia

The religious migration in the 6th c. Has been an object of research several times. My goal is to research mobility and possible migration between the Transcaucasia and the northern Mesopotamia in area as reflected in the process of translating and bringing the hagiographical tests within the framework off the Late Antique and early medieval Christian Orient. In particular I would like to make a panorama of Caucasian migrants to Syria and Palestine are as they are reflected in the texts. 

The level of mobility of Georgian and Armenian clergy and monastics making pilgrimages and moving to the monasteries or monastic settlements in Syria and the Holy Land and occasionally returning back, bringing holy relics and different sacred objects is quite badly investigated. Monastic and more broadly clerical migration he's a well-known phenomenon of the mobility often named led after Pierre Maraval ‘pilgrimage activity’. However, pilgrimage his only a part of this process, as beside pilgrims there were also seekers off lonely places, monastics frequenting ascetical centres, bishops visiting synods on a special invitation, exiled Church dissidents and wondering marks (the example of the so called ‘Messalians’ is obvious). Although the descriptions of such a mobility is necessarily short, there is an additional source for describing it. Hagiography comes here to the fore, since it, like almost no other genre, reflects the surrounding world and its history in the mirror of mass religious consciousness. The monastics migrating or just fleeing to the safer places for conducting their life of seclusion brought with themselves examples which they were intending to follow. There was a reverse process, when local people deserving to imitate these migrants were descending to Syria and to the Holy Land in search of such examples.
The mobility of the anti-Chalcedonian ascetics outside the Roman Empire also contributed significantly to the text transport. The events that are reflected in the Georgian hagio- and historiography as the ‘coming of the Syrian Fathers’ were connected to the creation of a monasteries’ network. When the cycles of the Syriac Fathers emerged in textual form, they reflected a memory of a massive migration between Syria and Transcaucasia. 

Syriac, Armenian and Georgian hagiographical texts reflect such journeys. The number of the lives of the holy men and women were translated from Syriac and Greek into Armenian and Georgian. Their number increased significantly in the 6th—7th cc. Several texts could be the object for such research.
•    Syriac: dossier of St. Basil in Syriac (Ms. Dams 17/18; BL Add. 12262), Life of ‘Man of God’ (Alexius)
•    We still do not know who was responsible for translating the ‘Life of Simeon the Stylite’ (published by G. Garitte in the CSCO series) into Georgian. this text is abundant with Syriac words and expressions. 
•    The dossier of Symeon the Younger and his mother St Martha is here of particular interest.
•    Several documents pertaining the dossier of Basil of Caesarea (BHO 164-170) also testify to such and influence. This concerns especially parts of the Legend about Basil translated into Armenian. There is a question of the reconstruction of the way by which the collection of ‘miracula Basilii’ made by the bishop Helladius of Caesarea came into Syriac and Georgian tradition. We have a lot of evidence about Armenian monks sojourning in the monasteries of Amida and Tur Abdin in the 6—7th cc. 
•    The Georgian echoes  of the ‘Syriac Julian Romance’ purport the conclusion that a significant part of this text has been brought to Kartli and became a court-legend of the house of Vakhtang Gorgasali
•    The Georgian dossier of the Syrian fathers will be occasionally used as a source of information about possible routes by which Syrian monks penetrated the transportation and particularly Georgian area. The most interesting in this connexion is the dossier of Davit of Garedja whose life testifies to the significant influence office Syriac tradition. Especially interesting is the figure of saint Simeon the Younger as a symbol for the whole monastic settlement in Garedja. There are some indications in the life of saint Davit that's not only he himself came from Mesopotamia but his disciples visited Syria and Mesopotamia.

Quite often migrants turned back bringing with themselves various hagiographical legends, sometimes in the form of manuscripts. There is a solid chance that these rare documents reflect ongoing mobility processes that existed between Syria and Transcaucasia in the 5th and the 7th centuries AD. This kind of mobility sewed together both regions to a degree that during all the mediaeval period Transcaucasia stood on the cutting edge of the Christian oriental world. The later translations of the same texts emerged about the 9th c. and were not connected with this early translation process reflecting monastic mobility. 
The goal of the project is to systematise the early hagiographic translations from Syriac and Greek into Armenian and Georgian and compare them to the available information about the monastic migrations and pilgrims moving between the two areas. The obvious example of that could be found in the Georgian version of the life of St Simeon Stylite the Younger, where a Georgian priest is described who brought to Georgia some hairs of the holy man.  One can assume that the very translation of the Life is closely related to the relics traffic operated by the migrants and pilgrims. The aim of the study is not only to build a reliable chronology of such translations but also to reconstruct the milieu in which translations of hagiographical texts could have been made. Additionally, the goal could be meant to complete the story of the Syrians coming to the Caucasian region with the reciprocal movement researched through the texts.