The “Life” of Gregory the Enlightener Presented in Manuscript H404 of the National Centre of Manuscripts

Agathangelos' "The History of Armenia" is the first monument of the Early Christian Armenian writing of the 5th century, which gives us the information about the conversion of the Armenians and their enlightener. Christianity was recognized as an official religion in Armenia, Georgia and Albania in the 4th century. The history of Agathangelos is the most important source for the study of the history of the Armenian Church and the Christianization of the Caucasus.

  Approximately twenty redactions of the history of Agathangelos are presented in nine languages: Armenian, Greek, Syrian, Arabic, Latin, Ethiopian, Georgian, Coptic (fragment) and Slavic.

   The cycle of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener contains the richest notes about the spread of Christianity in Armenia. In the Arabic version of this composition, we come across the note about the Georgians and the Albanians.

The cycle of “Gregory’s lives” unites the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener, its versions and redactions. The majority of specialists single out two main groups. The first group comprises “The history of Armenia” under Agathangelos’ authorship (Agathangelos’ history, Tbilisi, 1909) [Thomson, 2010:11], accompanied with Greek translations and appropriate texts. The first group of the cycle of “Lives” by Gregory the Enlightener is marked with the letter A. Accordingly, the Armenian “history” is Aa, the Greek “history” is  Ag,  the Arabic “history” is Aar. The same group comprises  the Arabic text of  Agathangelos' "History”, which was issued in 1968 by A. Ter-Gevondian according to the manuscript of the library of St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai (A. Ter-Gevondian, 1968) [Thomson, 2010:10]. The texts united in the second group are conventionally called “Lives” and are marked with the letter V. Initially, two compositions were involved in this group: 1. The Arabic text of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener, which was issued in Petersburg in 1905 by Niko Mari and was presented in the manuscript ( 460) of the library of St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai [N. Mari, 1905]; 2. The  “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener, which was presented in the Greek manuscript of the 12th century discovered  in El Escorial /Spain/ Library in 1946 by J. Gariti [Gariti, 1946] [Thomson, 2010:10].

The Arabic text discovered by Niko Mari was incomplete. It lacked the beginning. Sinai 455 (the manuscript of the 12th century / full text of the Arabic “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener) was discovered in the micro-tapes of the manuscripts of St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in 1972. It was issued in 1973 by A. Ter-Gevondian [Thomson, 2010:10].

  Besides the above-mentioned, in the second group the majority of specialists unites the new Greek text of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener, which was discovered in 1961 in Macedonia’s Ohrid Monastery. It was issued in 1965 by J. Gariti [Thomson, 2010:11]. The same can be said about Karshunian redaction of Gregory’s “Life”, which was discovered in the collection of manuscripts presented in St Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem.

  G. Winkler [Winkler, 1983] divides the compositions united in the cycle of the “Lives” by Gregory the Enlightener into four main groups: 1. The Armenian text of Agathangelos' "The History" accompanied by Greek and Arabic translations; 2. The so-called the “Life” accompanied by Greek and Arabic texts; 3. Karshunian and Ohrid redactions created as a result of unification of “The History” and the “Life”; 4.  Greek, Latin, Georgian and Arabic metaprasic redactions.

  After the discovery of Greek and Arabic “Lives”, it was told that the Armenian original of them had existed, but had not reached us. Niko Mari [Mari, 1905:182]   suggested the following scheme for dating and restoring the Armenian archetype:

a) The composition about St Gregory / the author was Mesrop Mashtots or someone else /, which exited in the 5th -6th centuries. It did not reach us;

b)  The second redaction / the so-called “Life” / should be created in the 7th -8th centuries in the circle of Chalcedonians from Tao. It was translated into Greek and Arabian;

c)  The new / the third / national redaction was created in the 8th century. It is presented as  Agathangelos' "The History of Armenia".

The national redaction consists of four parts: 1. Agathangelos' foreword, 2. The life and the history of St Gregory, which comprises the martyrdom of the Ripsinians, 3. The preaching of St Gregory, 4. The conversion of the country of the Armenians [Ter-Gevondian, 1983].

The earliest historian, who referred to the existence of Agathangelos' "The History” is Pavstos Buzand (the 5th century). However, Ghazar Parpetsi told most clearly about the history of Agathangelos (the 5th century). According to him, this history was called "The book of Gregory". Sebeos also called the history of Agathangelos as "The book of Gregory". According to A. Ter-Ghevondyan, besides the famous redaction that we had, Khorenatsi (the 5th century) was also familiar with the lost redaction, whose Syrian, Greek and Arabic translations reached us [Ghevondyan, 1983:503]. It is noteworthy that in the first part of the history, Movses Khorenatsi blamed Armenian kings and the Ishkhns in being indifferent to the science. They did not care of writing about those heroic actions that had taken place in their country [Malkhasian, 1961:82-83]. In the first part of the same composition, the author wrote that Agathangelos had retold those stories very shortly. However, he wished to retell in details the history of this period from the beginning, via many true notes [Malkhasian, 1961:227].

  The history of Agathangelos was also referred to by the Armenian historians of the later period, but they were already familiar with the history of Agathangelos instead of the "Book of Gregory".

  The “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener is preserved in the Georgian language. Armenologist V. Langlua published the first note about the existence of the Georgian redaction of “Gregory’s life” [Պ. Մուրադյան, 1982:124].  In 1892 in Manuscript No 384 (the collection “The society of spreading literacy among the Georgian”), T. Jordania discovered a new list of the original mentioned by V. Langlua and published an extended paper in the first book of his “Chronicles”. Leon Melikset-beg wrote in the foreword of “The life of St Gregory Pateli”: T. Jordania placed in the first book of his “Chronicles” (Tbilisi, 1893, pp.19-27) a short part of the text according to the same manuscript. The edition presents only the foreword of the monument with a historical content and a short passage from the mid” [Melikset-beg, 1920:V].

  Melikset-beg mentions that the Georgian version of the “Life” of St Panteli represents more or less free translation of the Greek origin, which was created in 1801 in Constantinople Triantapliu Virgin Monastery by monastic priest Teopile – a disciple of Giorgi Mtatsmindeli. Despite the existence of some lexical Armenisms in the Georgian text (for instance, ოხჭანი /okhtchani – վախճան, etc.), according to Melikset-beg’s viewpoint, these words could exist in the Georgian language since the earlier times, because in other compositions they were used earlier.

P. Muradian mentions four manuscripts of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener translated into the Old Georgian language: 1. In Athos Georgian Mother Monastery (No 20); 2. In K. Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts (S-384); 3. In Kutaisi State Historic Museum (No 4); 4. On Sinai (No 91) [Պ. Մուրադյան, 1982:127].

We believe that the Manuscript H404 from K. Kekelidze National Center of Manuscripts should be added to the manuscripts of the “Lives” by Gregory the Enlightener. The Manuscript H404 presents the unknown Georgian version of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener entitled “As King Trdad tortured Lusavorachi”. It presents the collection of the texts of a religious character.

The major part of the manuscript is created in the Georgian language. It comprises the two-page testament, which states that this manuscript was written by Giorgi Amiragashvili in the city of Yazd and was sent to Kartli by him (according to the testament - in 1707). Yazd (Armenian - - Եզդ) is one of Iranian cities (Yazd – an administrative center of Ostana) [Arm. Encyclopedia III, 1977]. The addressees are the Tumanishvilis. This manuscript is unique, because the Armenian texts presented in it are created with the Georgian transcription. Generally, the manuscript is distinguished with an-dominance. In the Georgian and Armenian texts the extra “an”-s are met between consonants or between consonants and vowels.

  It is especially noteworthy that the text of the “Life” by Gregory the Enlightener, which is presented in the manuscript vividly differs from the above-mentioned groups of Georgian redaction. It differs according to the content and lingual peculiarities (lexical, syntactical and phonetic Armenisms).

Our research aims at the determination of the connection between the "Life" of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404 and the Georgian versions as well as the Armenian redactions of this composition. For this reason, we compared it with the old Georgian redaction of Gregory’s "Life" (issued by L. Melikset-beg)[1], with the Armenian national redaction and the text presented in Parsadan Gorgijanidze's "The history of Georgia", which depicts the conversion of Trdat and the Armenians by Gregory the Enlightener as well as the martyrdom of the Ripsimians.

   Despite the fact that the plot of the "Life" of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404 partially coincides with the main plot of the national redaction and lives, we come across some differences. Nothing is said about the Ottoman Empire, the dynasty of the Arshakunians, the wars fought by Trdat, the battle of Artashir and Khosrov (the Ottoman Empire and Armenia), killing Khosrov by Anak and the apparition of the enlighteners. The names of idols are not indicated. Generally, proper names are rarely met. Nothing is said about Trdat’s death. Dates and numbers are not presented. In contrast to other versions, the text presented in Manuscript H404 does not indicate that Gregory spent 14 years in the pit. It only mentions: spent in the pit [H404, 91v], etc.

According to the Armenian national redaction, Trdat made a sacrifice to Anahit and asked Gregory to do the same [Ter-Gevondian, 1983:39]. However, Anahit is not mentioned in the "Life" presented in Manuscript H404.

In the beginning of the text, Trdat is presented as the (idolatry) king of “Erevan”[2] and the son of his vizier is Gregory. All facts are described very shortly in the text. More extended passages depict treating Trdat by Gregory, Gregory’s preaching, his consecration and the rules of fasting. The names of Ripsime and Gayane are not mentioned. However, their torture is described via several lines.

The text of the "Life" of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404 greatly differs from the Georgian redactions. As it was already mentioned, it begins with the story of King Trdat. The old Georgian redaction begins with the story of Parthev and the Arshakunians, while Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s version starts with Ripsime’s story. She is mentioned as French woman Horm Sime (in some passages – Horom Sime). 

In the old Georgian redaction, seven pages are dedicated to the torture of Gregory the Enlightener by King Trdat. In Manuscript H404, only several lines depict this fact. The author mentions that he was greatly tortured by the King, but nothing happened with him. The King asked to boil the iron and pour into his mouth [H404, 91v]. The same fact is met in the old Georgian redaction, but the iron is replaced with the lead [Melikset-beg, 1920:18], which eventually means the iron.

  In contrast to  the "Life" presented in Manuscript H404, in Parsadan Gorgijanidze's version the text is divided into chapters. The events are presented with a different precedence. The "Life" of Manuscript H404 is a single entity, while Parsadan Gorgijanidze's text lacks Gregory’s life. It seems that the author picked out certain notes from the written sources and inserted oral sources as well. His texts are entitled. It is noteworthy that the titles do not mention Gregory the Enlightener. However, almost everywhere we come across the notes about him. The following titles refer to Gregory the Enlightener: “Here is the story of French woman Horm Sime and her torture” [A2492, 1r]; The story of the torture of French woman Horm Sime and St Nino’s story is above, but no hinder” [A2492, 6v]; Here is the story of French king’s daughter Horm Sime and King Trdat”  [A2492, 8v].

  In Manuscript H404 only several lines depict the torture of Gregory the Enlightener by King Trdat [H404, 91v], while Parsadan Gorgijanidze's text lacks this fact. Parsadan only mentions that Gregory was enslaved in a “gvirabi / deep pit” [A2492, 10v]. He says nothing about the torture. Parsadan Gorgijanidze uses “gvirabi” for denoting “virabi”[3] and calls Gregory the Enlightener a theologian[4].

In Manuscript H404 Gregory’s “throwing” into the pit is followed by the arrival of 40 nuns in Armenia. As we see, Manuscript H404 briefly mentions the fact that the nuns run away from France’s or Rome’s Emperor Diocletian  (In A2492 and in Manuscript  H404 Diocletian is  treated as the king of France. In the old Georgian redaction, he is the king of Greece, while Armenian national redaction treats him as a ruler of Caesarea).  Parsadan Gorgijanidze dedicated the separate chapter to the torture of Ripsime and other nuns. However, in the old Georgian redaction initially nothing is said about the nuns, while Gregory’s life, preaching and the Ripsimians’ torture are not divided into chapters, but several pages are especially dedicated to the nuns’ torture.  In contrast to Manuscript H404, Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s version fully describes nuns’ running from Diocletian and their arrival in Armenia. However, both compositions depict the fact that Diocletian decided to get married.  In the old Georgian redaction, we read that Diocletian was informed about the virgin, who lived in the monastery headed by Gayane. Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s version states that Diocletian gathered painters and “sent orders everywhere to show every virgin, which should be painted by the artists or should be shown for being chosen as a queen” [A2492, 7r]. In this case, Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s version is closer to Armenian national redaction.

The dialogue between Gregory the Enlightener and “the woman delivering bread” is met with a slight difference only in Manuscript H404 and in Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s version -  according to Manuscript H404, a woman brought only bread, while in accordance with Parsadan Gorgijanidze, she brought water and bread. Manuscript H404 states that after Gregory’s words the king turned into a pig. Parsadan indicates that after three days from Gregory’s curse, the king “his serfs and noblemen” turned into pigs. In both manuscripts, the word ხელმწიფე/king has the same transcription “ჴემწიფე”.The dialogue between Gregory the Enlightener and “the woman delivering bread” is not presented in the old Georgian redaction as well as in Armenian national redaction. In Manuscript H404 as well as in other redactions and versions, Trdat, his horsemen, noblemen and everyone, who shared his insolence, turned into the pigs after killing Ripsime and other nuns under Trdat’s order. 

We present the above-mentioned dialogue from Manuscript H404 and A2492:




  “And the same day, when they killed the nuns, the woman, who usually brought bread to Gregory, could not bring it, because of the sorrow. The next day, when she came and threw the bread into the pit, Gregory uttered: Why did not you come yesterday and let these snakes be hungry? The woman said that the king had unfairly killed  French nuns and she had not been able to come. Gregory uttered in the pit:  Is pig king Trdat still alive? After these words he turned into the pig” (92v).





  “The woman, who brought bread and water to Gregory, came late and put the bread and water into the pit. Gregory uttered in the pit: Why did you come late? She said: Curse king Trdat, who acted unfairly and pitifully. The whole country cries from pity and compassion. She told Gregory all the affairs of the women. Gregory uttered: Is pig king Trdat still alive? After three days from these words, Trdat turned into the pig and left the throne. His serfs and noblemen tore the clothes and ate their flesh with teeth and became mad. The king was endowed with face, hair, teeth and hoofs of a pig and the king’s household started weeping. They hit the heads and could not understand what was going on…” (1r).


In Manuscript H404 Gregory tells the king that he has to visit Constantine’s city in order to be consecrated by Pope Leonti and this happens after building Ejmiatsin [H404, 97r-97v], while in A2492 the king asks Gregory to be consecrated as Patriarch. Gregory refuses, but God’s angel tells him in the dream that he has to obey the king. Afterwards, Gregory visits Leonti. He is  consecrated as Patriach by Pope Leonti and he acquires the right on “consecration, boiling the chrism” [A2492, 2r]. According to Manuscript H404, Gregory arrives in Istanbul[5]. He is  consecrated by the Patriach. Under Christ’s order the Patriarch calls him “Lusavorachi” (In  A2492 this term is replaced by “theologian”). Afterwards, Gregory baptizes Trdat and his army and teaches them all Christian rules. In these passages, we deal with the same facts, but there are different nuances. 

  Below we present the table, which shows how peculiar is  Manuscript H404 in contrast to other texts:






Similar phrases


The dialogue of Gregory and the woman delivering bread[6]

The note about St Nino



The facts , which are only in the “Life” presented in Manuscript H404




Is pig king Trdat still alive?





1. The woman delivering bread meets Khosroviducht and says that only Gregory can save Trdat.


2. Gregory obligates Khosroviducht to say his words to Trdat.


3. Trdat recovered, but one of his ears was a pig’s one.


4. Gregory the enlightener arrived in France[7] and said mass under Pope’s request.


5. The Pope gifted Gregory Apostle Peter’s crutch, ring and Apostle Paul’s  crown.


6. The enlightener travels from France to Jerusalem. He visits Christ’s grave and asks to light his candle on Easter Saturday. According to the manuscript, it happens.


7.  The rules of the fast.



Is that pig still alive?







Old Georgia redaction








Armenian national redaction










The table shows that there are two identical facts and one similar phrase in our manuscript and A2492, which are not presented in the old Georgian redaction and in Armenian national redaction. They are: “The dialogue of Gregory and the woman delivering bread”, “The note about St Nino” and the phrase from the dialogue: “Is pig king Trdat still alive?” [H404, 93r]; “Is that pig still alive?” [A2492, 1r].

The table shows that some facts are presented only in the “Life” of Manuscript H404.

The note about St Nino is presented by Mose Khoreneli (Armenian historian of the 5th century). The same can be said about “The conversion of Kartli” and “The life of Kartli”. Similarly to Manuscript H404, Khoreneli indicates that St Nino was one of the Ripsimians [G. Galstean, 1910:236]. He describes thoroughly the conversion of the Georgians by St Nino. Mose Khoreneli also states that in contrast to Agathangelos, he retells more thoroughly the history of the conversion of Armenia.

  Manuscript H404 is not distinguished with a frequent usage of proper names. Below we present the proper names used in Manuscript H404 and their counterparts from Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s text and from old Georgian redaction. Let us see how they differ from one another:



  1. Trdat
  2. The names of Ripsime anf Gayane are not mentioned
  3. Kostandianos
  4. Gevodios Papa
  5. -



  1. Trdat
  2. Horom Sime (in some passages Horm Sime and Horomsime)
  3. Kostantile
  4. Lione Patriarch
  5. Deva Klitiane


Old Georgian redaction

  1. Trdat
  2. Ripsime
  3. Kostantine
  4. Leonti
  5. Deokletiane


  If we briefly list the thematic components of the cycle of the “Life” of Gregory the Enlightener presented in our manuscript, we will have the following facts: Gregory’s torture depicted with several words in the “Life” of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404; the episode of his being in the deep pit, which differs from appropriate episodes of Georgian lives and Armenian national redaction; Martyrdom of the Ripsimians, which differs from appropriate episodes of Georgian lives and Armenian national redaction; St Gregory’s preaching (shortly); baptizing of Trdat and his army by St Gregory; the rules of fasting (only in this manuscript). Here nothing is said about the Ottoman Empire, the Partians, the Arshakunians, killing Trdat’s father Khosrovi by St Gregory’s father Anak and St Gregory’s apparition.

  From the discussed Georgian redactions, our text is closer to Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s composition. We want to remember the fact that sometimes Parsadan used oral narrations as sources and we can suppose that the similarity of his composition and our text is stipulated by a common oral source, because, for instance, the dialogue of the woman delivering bread is not presented in any other source. If we consider the fact that Parsadan’s composition  as well as Gregory’s  text is written in Iran, we can admit that Parsadan Gorgijanidze's "The life of Georgia" could be Giorgi Amiragashvili’s direct source. One fact is clear: Giorgi Amiragashvili prefers Armenian written and oral sources. This is vividly seen from syntactic, morphological and lexical Armenisms of the text.

  Giorgi Amiragashvili is intentionally incorporating content changes in Gregory's "Life” in order to emphasize the role of Gregory the Enlightener in the conversion of the Armenians. The main figure is Gregory and all events spin around him.

  Therefore, the “Life” of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404 is interesting for studying the cycle of “Lives” of Gregory the Enlightener. It is important for researching dialects in the sphere of dialectology. In our opinion, the "Life" of Gregory the Enlightener presented in Manuscript H404 occupies a special position in the cycle of “Lives” of St. Gregory and can even be considered as a new version. Generally, the study of the manuscript is especially important for researching Georgian-Armenian literary relations of the 18th century.


[1] Afterwards, when we say “the old Georgia redaction”, we will consider this redaction.

[2] In the manuscript Erevan means Armenia.

[3] A deep pit.

[4] It is noteworthy that Manuscript H404 is distinguished with Armenisms and Armenian forms of the conjugation. In the above-mentioned episode virab(a) is Armenian form of  gvirabi. “Grikora was greatly tortured” –  Grikora tortured is an accepted form for Armenian. Parsadan wrote in Georgian better than Giorgi.

[5] Istanbul was used in the 18th century. The author decided to write Istanbul instead of Rome in order to be understandable at that period of time.

[6] The woman, who brings bread, was mentioned in the “Life” presented in Manuscript H404 and in Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s text.

[7] Caesarea.


Melikset-beg L.
The Life of St Gregory Parthel.
Марр Н.
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Amiragashvili G.
Manuscript H404. The National Centre of Manuscripts.
Gorgijanidze P.
The 17th century
The Life of Georgia. A2492. The National Centre of Manuscripts.

Ագաթանգեղայ Պատմութիւն Հայոց. Տփղիս.
Գալստեան Գ.
Սրբոյ Հօրն Մերոյ Մովսեսի Խորենացւոյ Պատմութիւն Հայոց. Թիֆլիս.
The Life of Kartli
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Thomson R. W.
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Խորենացի Մովսես
Հայոց պատմություն, թ
Մուրադյան Պ.
Ագաթանգեղոսի հին վրա
Չամչյան Մ.
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Winkler G.
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Aptsiauri N.
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Kiknadze R.
Parsadan Gorgijanidze’s “Istorianni and Azmani Sharavandedtani”. Metsniereba.