Easter in the Armenian Tradition


Resurrection of Christ, Walters ms. W.547, folio 118v

The following is an excerpt from the letter of the 18 Armenian bishops who gathered before the Battle of Avarayr to respond to the Iranian king’s decree that the Armenians renounce Christianity and adopt Zoroastrianism*:

We thus acknowledge God, and in the same we believe without question.

God, who created the world, Himself came and was born of the holy virgin Mary, as previously indicated by the prophets, and without any cause of mortal order. He was truly God and truly became man. Not by becoming man did He lose godliness, nor by becoming and remaining God did he corrupt his manhood; but He was the same, and one.

But because we could not see the Invisible and approach the Unapproachable, He entered our humanity, so that we might enter His divinity. He did not consider it shameful to don this created body, but He glorified His creation as divine. Nor did He bestow the honor of His immortality bit by bit, as the bodiless angels, but He put on all nature at once with body, breath and spirit, and united with His divinity — unity, and not duality. And thereafter we [have come to] know the one divinity, Who preceded the world [and is] the same today.

This Jesus Christ, who in his embodiment redeemed the whole world, came by his own will to die. And knowing divinity, he was formed from the unspotted virgin, and was born, and wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger, and drew the magi from the East to worship [Him]. He was nourished with milk as a boy, grew and came to age for thirty years and was baptized by John, son of a barren woman, in the river Jordan. He performed great signs and miracles among the Jews, was betrayed by the priests, and [was] condemned by Pontius Pilate. He was crucified, dead, buried, and arose on the third day; He appeared to the twelve disciples and many others — more than five hundred. He spent among them forty days, and then ascended from the Mount of Olives to heaven in the presence of His disciples, and rose and sat upon the throne of His Father. He promised to appear a second time with fearsome power and to raise the dead, to renew the world, to execute true judgment among the righteous and sinful, to reward the worthy and to punish the malefactors, who believe not in all these benefactions.

No one can remove us from this belief, neither angels nor men, neither sword nor fire, nor water, nor any cruel beatings.

See here that we resolve to put our bodies in your hands. Do with them what you will; torture by you, acceptance from us. The sword is yours, the neck is ours. We are nothing better than our forefathers, who upon this attestation surrendered their goods and possessions and bodies.

But ask us no more [of this], for the covenant of our faith is not with man, so that we may stumble like children, but [rather] indivisibly with God, from whom [we] can be neither dissolved nor sundered, not now nor later, nor forever, nor forever and ever.

Քրիստոս Յարեաւ ի Մեռելոց…

Օրհնեալ է Յարութիւնն Քրիստոսի։

*Excerpt from my translation of Yeghishe’s History of Vartan and the Armenian War 


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