Athanasius in Armenian: A case study in early medieval "transformation" of Greek patristic literature
300 manuscripts remain preserved from the ancient Armenian manuscript tradition, including Armenian translations of Athanasius of Alexandria. According to a manuscript colophon, referencing 22 texts, Armenian translations of Athanasius of Alexandria were made inthe 5th and in the 8th centuries. Today, over fifty Armenian texts are attributed to this Church Father, with translation dates varying from the 5th to the 19th centuries, indicating Armenians’ continuous interest in (Pseudo)-Athanasian writings. There are vitas, letters, dialogues, commentaries, prayers, and creeds preserved in Armenian translation ascribed to Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria. As the bearer of the Nicene orthodoxy, he is regarded as one of the main theologians of the Armenian Church. In 1965, the Armenologist Robert Thomson wrote in Le Muséon about Transformation of Athanasius in Armenian theology. Gradually, Greek critical editions of the authentic Athanasian writings are being published. These would all play a part in assessing and reviewing the Armenian heritage regarding St. Athanasius. On the other hand, the Armenian translations could likewise enrich the Greek heritage of St. Athanasius since there are some Armenian texts, under the name of this Alexandrian patriarch, for which no Greek (original or other) counterpart exists.
Anahit Avagyan is scientific assistant at the Department of Researching and Editing of the Manuscripts of Matenadaran - Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. She also lectures on Patristics and related subjects at the Faculty of Theology, Yerevan State University in Armenia. She received her PhD from the Faculty of Theology of Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. Avagyan’s current research is on Armenian translation of the works of St. Athanasius of Alexandria with a prospect towards publishing a critical edition of the translations and focusing on the possible 'transformation' (Thomson) of Athanasian theology in Armenian translation.