Prayer 75 of the Book of Lamentation

 

Profession of Trinitarian Faith and Praise of the Church

 

In the ninth century a new dissident movement emerged in Armenia. Founded by Smbat Zahrevants‘i, the movement was driven by widespread dissatisfaction among the economically and socially disadvantaged against the powerful feudal lords and their oppressive conduct toward the peasantry. Because the Church hierarchy was closely aligned with the nobility, the T‘ondrakeans also adopted a strongly anti-ecclesiastical stance that denied the authority of the Church and the efficacy of the sacraments, especially baptism, the Eucharist, and ordination. They offered an alternative cult that disdained the use and veneration of material objects, especially the cross, and also denied that worship must be restricted to consecrated churches. Instead they held their services in private homes or in the open air.

 

Alarmed by the resurgence of the T‘ondrakeans at the end of the tenth century and in particular its infiltration among the lower ranks of the clergy and some of the monasteries, Gregory composed an impassioned letter to the abbot of the monastery of Kchaw, warning him of the presence of heretical teachings among his monks. Probably at about the same time Gregory may have written this prayer that became incorporated in the Book of Lamentation. A creed in which the monk proclaims his faith in the Trinity as well as his love for the Church, this poem is a defense of the Church and its sacramental theology, an elegant and graceful counterpoint to the more polemical letter to the abbot of Kchaw.

 

 

                                                [1]

 

Now am I plunged in wonder,
Completely submerged in the
Inexpressible and diverse
Abundance of your favors,
An inexhaustible fullness
That never ceases to accumulate
To my right and my left,
In front of me and behind,
Increasing without end.
 
And so, I offer and present to you
This hymn of praise,
My confession of faith.
 
Although at one time I was taken,
Exiled, and expelled from paradise
By the fishhook of the swindler,
By the tricks of the deceiver,1
By the heresies of the schismatics,
Now I am once again lifted up
On the wings of light
And will arrive in heaven
Through this union
In correct purity with
The genuine deposit of grace.2

 

Since it was from her womb
That I was conceived,
And I was born from the spiritual labor of
The great blessed immaculate queen of virgins
I must record in this book
To the extent that my words will allow
My glorious and praiseworthy mother,
That she may be known and proclaimed
And the extent of her incense-worthy glory
Be told to all generations to come
And be revered with worthy devotion
As the pure body whose head is
The Incarnate Word of God,3
And to be mindful of her in this
Confession of faith in the Trinity.

 

 

[2]

 

And now, with this spirit-formed figure of words,
Conforming to the altar of light,
Accept me, compassionate, blessed One,
As one forgiven and purified by it.
Through this, remove from my soul
The wounds of my sin;
Set me down under her shade,
Blameless and above reproach;4
Join my weak self to the house of David
And from there bring me to the house of God
As in the words of the prophet5
Who was foreshadowing you, Jesus.

 

Do not make my entrances vain
Nor my exits unhelpful;
 
Do not consider the warmth of my faith cold
Nor judge my kiss of greeting inappropriate;

 

Do not record my worship as ungrateful
Nor disdain my prostration as thoughtless6;

 

Do not let the vision of your image be fruitless,
Nor the wonder of your figure lose its splendor;

 

Do not forget the fireless holocaust,7
Nor scatter the sacrifice of this covenant of words;

 

Do not let the taste of your light
Be for me death,
Nor the cup of the blood from your side
Be for me condemnation.8

 

[3]

 

I beseech you, Lord Jesus,
You who are one of the Essence,
The one through whom we know your Father,
And taste of the Holy Spirit,
We are taught by you the orders of the Church
Which is given for all,
You who dwell in this luminous house of prayer
For life, salvation, and goodness.

 

We lift up our hearts
And stretch out our hands
In perpetual offerings
To You, Lord of All, One of the Trinity,
This frankincense of words,
This expression of thanksgiving.

 

[4]

 

Let us praise and lift up our voices
With music and songs of blessing,
In faith and worship.9

You who are the benevolent commander
And cause of all creation,
The Trinity without beginning,
Exalted without comparison,
Inaccessible to our thoughts,
Incomprehensible by our mind,
Imperceptible by our senses,
Unbearable by your creatures,
A greatness that extends beyond heaven
And the lowest depths,
The fulfilment of all endings and
Origin of all beginnings.
One in three distinct persons;
Three in one indivisible essence.
Beyond the freedom of the mind,
Extended through all places.

 

Unchanging goodness,
Unshakeable rectitude,
Undefiled form of love,
Magnitude that has no successor,
Exaltation that cannot be humbled,
Inexhaustible contemplation,
Undiminished beneficence,
Determinate will,
Living commandment,
Sign of salvation,
True blessedness,
Certain expectation,
Trustworthy promise,
Abundant treasure,
Assured good news,
Intangible sublimity.

 

One Father of the
Only-Begotten Son
Honored by the unique Spirit,
Overfilled with the richest bounty,
Completely devoid of any evil,
Praised by the sounds of benedictions,
By an unfathomable panegyric.10

 

[5]

 

One exalted, awesome name,
Sharing equally in honor,
In an inexpressible relation,
Three lights joined together,
A fullness lacking in nothing,
Sovereign in his will
In loving reverence toward the Father
Whose image he bears.

 

Uniting in his activity
With the Spirit of Holiness,
He descended to earth;

 

Without relinquishing his glory,
He deigned to enter the maternal womb
Of the Mother of God, the virgin of purity.

 

In her, he made the seeds of blessing grow11
In an immaculate luminous field
While remaining always joined with his divine essence
In an inseparable union.

 

He combined miraculously
In a penetrating mixture12
The essence of our breath with
His spirit of divinity.

 

He tamed with the reins
That instill obedience
My waywardness.

 

Willingly offering himself to the cross,
He rose like a flower of the fruit of life
To the top branch of the immortal plant.13

 

He was wounded unto death,
Without separating his divinity
From the flesh he shared with us;14

 

He gave life to the instrument of torture,
And the essence of the Creator
Ever inseparably suffered with
His created body.15

 

Descending into the darkness of hell,16
He released the captives from the scatterer’s17bonds
And roused as if from a drowsy slumber
He repulsed death’s assault on him
And was raised up and divinely resurrected.

 

He ascended from the earth
As the bread of life,18
The shepherd of a rational flock.19
He was believed on in the world20
And in no way diminished in his likeness.

 

As he came to us whole,
So too he was raised in his entirety.21

 

He is seated on the sublime throne
In the glory of his primordial simplicity as creator.

 

We confess him as beneficent God
And the Lord of all,
Who judges the whole earth
With a just decision on the Great Day.
For he is the beginning and the end,
The first and the last;22
Lacking in nothing
He reigns in inaccessible light.23

 

[6]

 

We bless together with the Father and the Son
The indivisible source, the Lord Spirit
Sharing in their glory,
Who created everything
And gave life to all;
Who from the beginning
When the world was engulfed in darkness,
Surrounded by mist, fashioned and formed
The all-containing waters of the infinite sea
Stretching throughout the earth24
For the realization of this present sacrament,
The holy font of light.25

 

First he made and now he works;
He brings into being and
always perfects his miraculous craft,
The prophecies of the saintly,26
Divine portents,
Astonishing powers,
Prophets, apostles, doctors,
Teachers of practical wisdom.

 

He built the sanctuary where the blood of Christ is offered,
He commanded the forgiveness of souls
And the health of bodies
Through his mercy in Christ’s likeness.
He baptized in what is greater than water;27
He renewed and illuminated with his power alone.
He ceaselessly fortifies us with his beneficence.
He testified to the divinity of the Only-Begotten
In the rivers of the Jordan;28
In a cloud’s guise he manifested himself
With the voice of the Father on Mount Tabor.29

 

In the same form he sheltered the house of Jacob
In its flight out of Egypt
And its exodus directed by Moses;
He drowned pharaoh with his violent wind.

 

He consecrates priests,
He forms sages,
He gives strength to kings,
He transmits forgiveness,
He grants life to the dead,
Through the renewal of the Resurrection,
He is the anointing of God made man.30

 

In a perpetual equality,
He receives the same worship as the Father
For the majestic honor of the Son,
With boundless glory,
Blessed forever.
Amen.31

 

[7]

 

We profess the correct faith
And the unerring purity;
With the kiss of our lips
We greet this tabernacle
Of lifeless columns,
The edifice of the church
In which God dwells,
Revealed to be more sublime
Than the firmament most adorned on high,
Founded upon the ranks of apostles,
Blessed with incense by the disciples of the Most High,
Honored by the servants of the Word.32

 

The treasure of this life began in the upper room,33
In the place where the sacrament was accomplished,34
The Spirit of God filled and shone with its power first35
On that great day of Pentecost through the blessed house,
A figure of the Church growing in perfect holiness and grace,
And whose inhabitants were given the glorious light of renewal.36

 

This is why the blood of the Almighty God is distributed
In a perpetual offering with a voice of joy overpowering
Abel’s lament of death and proclaiming life immortal to us.37
For there is no force or power anywhere under heaven
Or below the sun to undertake to serve this awesome mystery,
Unless they are guarded by the wings of the church;
For heaven is not satisfied by this gift of the Lord’s body
If it is not offered under cover of this blessed canopy.38
For the law curses a man with death who offers
This divine sacrifice outside this tent of witness.39
Moreover, he will be held responsible for the blood,
For not offering in this consecrated place
The blood that is a symbol of the soul.

 

There is in the Church but one washing
In the death of Christ,40
Lest the Divinity who submits to abuse
For the sake of those who do not know Him
Should suffer a second time
For those who already do.41

 

There is one ordination in the honor of anointing,
So that fraud not be mixed into purity.
 
And there is one forgiveness of sin,
More by grace than by penance,
So that the truth not be deceived by its likeness.

 

There is one faith for future election
Lest the threat of restitution be thought

Some collection of strange words.42

There is one just reproach of our two essences
Lest one think the compensation for evil or good
Be divided in half between the inner and outer person.43

 

<There is one faith in the resurrection of the dead>44
In the immortal power of adoption into the kingdom,
To make known through the familiarity of earthly flesh
The greatness of the heavenly kingdom.

 

There is one hope of life;
It preserves the saints from corruption,
So that the certainty of what has been promised
Will be made known and
Believed by those who hear it.

 

[8]

 

This adored queen, the inanimate Church,
Gives life and rules over death;

 

Prefigured by Adam’s fruit,
It is worthy of being tasted;45

 

Though lifeless, she is
More sublime than rational beings.

 

She works the miracle of
Bringing us to perfection,
Establishing in us anew
The restored image and form
Of glory and of light.

 

There too is inscribed
An image of the grandeur
Of the celestial vault
Created from the beginning
Where the heavenly hosts dwell.

 

Bestowing an honorable richness
On worthless flesh,
She grants us a new flight
With the lightness of the soul.
 

She is not disfigured by her own sins
Unless she is trampled by the wicked and unfaithful.

 

She is a miraculous type
That surpasses the vision of our mind;

 

Herself mute, she is made up of rational beings,
She succors them always
As the sublime do the lowly.

 

She is greater than a man,
As much as the victorious rod of the elect Moses;46
She is greater than any rational being,
As much as the mysterious flowering staff of Aaron;47
She is more sublime than the wise,
As much as the wondrous mantle of Elijah and Elisha,48
Resplendent in the miracle that parted the river.49
She endows the consecrated hands
With a double power to wipe away sins.50

 

Greater than any weapon,51
A physical body of stone and clay,
Intimate with the sensible;
One in being with the saints.52

 

Like the immortal stone that lives53
In being destroyed and raised up again;54

 

Like the judge of all souls that strives
Miraculously in her actions of cursing and blessing;

 

Like the seer of the invisible
Who denounces some and sustains others.

 

When she calls us to herself
She does so by name,55
Like the ruler who gives commands to all beings.

 

Like the everlasting mountain
She is unshaken by her enemies,
And gathers the spiritual
By means of the Great One’s net;

 

She traces the steps of Christ
Without sin and unfailingly,
Her sublime abundance unsullied,
She lifts up her head boldly
In a praiseworthy manner.

 

[9]

 

She has such great holiness
That she draws canonical distinctions
Among them according to the image of God.56

 

After many tests of election,
If a culpable man dares enter her narthex,
She is not soiled, but grieves over
The errors of those unprepared.
She is not cursed but receives
Those ignorant of the extent of grace;
She does not despair of finding in herself guilt,
But she is darkened by our deeds.57

 

She does not permit anyone to approach twice
To embrace the life-giving feet
In the Lord’s ineffable sacrament,
Nor celebrate it a second time in one day
Lest the offering be imprudently profaned.58

 

She has powerful sympathy for our weaknesses,
Yet remains impassible to the corruption in our passions;
Without speaking she judges with a lordly decree.

 

[10]

 

She is a pure ark, doubly blessed,
A life-saving guard from the suffocating waves;59
She does not gather within herself
The multitude of irrational beasts
With just a few human beings,60
Instead she collects with the earthly
The celestial beings within herself.
She does not simply carry them
Along the turbulent waves,
But lifts them up to the heavenly heights.61

 

Like the disciple instructed by the Holy Spirit,
She flees from every deceit;62
She does not lead us into the blows
Of the death of the body,
But seizes us and brings us
To everlasting life.

 

She was not made by Noah’s hands
But was built by order of the Creator.
 

She was not dressed
by Moses with Bezalel63
But by the Only-Begotten
Son of God with the Holy Spirit.64

 

She is not forever in motion,
Constantly changing,
But on her firm foundation
She rests unshaken.

 

Again, mute as the ark of wood,
Its planks glued together,
Lacking the perception of sight,
She leads us forward
Like an immeasurable figure of Being,
And prepares for us a place
For our future life in light.

 

As happened to Uzzah,65
She destroys anyone there who
Does not carry her in their soul like a cross,
She kills, dissipates, and consumes immediately
Anyone yoked to irrational beasts,
Too worldly, tied to their earthly wagon,
Who picks her up and puts her on the ground
Like some common vessel.

 

She speaks not with a tongue of flesh
But with the words of angels.

 

She does not listen with material ears
But immediately comprehends all she hears.

 

Her voice is not in a particular language
But she proclaims to all nations
Like an oracle all of Christ’s deeds.66
Not with an articulated vibration
But with a divine breath she gives life.

 

She has neither joints nor bones nor sinews,
But with the width of two-thousand cubits,67
Like the infinite band, the living army raised by God
The crowd roused from the Hebrews.
And now she separates from herself
The unclean who have departed from purity,
Those afflicted by the passion of sin

And she travels to a distant land
With those who have endured
The work of making bricks.68

 

The same essence of the incarnate God
Is symbolized by the name of this rock
Who gives to us all to drink
From the tear69in his side.

 

She protects us and renews our life
Not with the flow of blood from her veins
But by union with her radiant streams of celestial light.

 

Neither Solomon nor Zerubbabel served70
As architects72of her construction
But the One who possesses all wisdom
Has sketched out her plan.72

 

Not with the profane oil,
Tasted in common by all,
Like that which Jacob poured out,73
But by the majestic glory of
The anointing with his precious blood.
 

She is not an earthly, material house,
But the heavenly flesh of God’s light
That seals and consecrates his children.

 

She does not give birth to us for an earthly life
But trains us to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven,
For she offers Abraham’s bosom<74
To those whom she embraces in her lap.

 

The groom at her wedding is
The Son of the living God;75
The maidens at her banquet
Are the band of the patriarchs.76

 

She has made us forget
The demonic mounds of idolatry,
So that we only recognize
God who is in heaven.

Alien to her in every way
Are the statues of false gods,
For everywhere her stones
Now worship Christ.77
Visibly destroyed are the
Phantom images of the groves,

For in all the forests of the land
Through their likeness to the tree of life
There the Lord is offered.
Broken are all the diabolic charms
And talismans, for the praised rock
Is again established with rubies,
Precious gems, living stones.78

 

[11]

 

This wondrous vault beneath which
We receive God
Is free at once of any servitude;79
She is not just an image
Of the heavenly Zion

But in her we recognize
Its very presence.80

 

She is not a temple tied to idolatry
Nor a place of condemnation
Yoked to the law,
But a place of the grace
Of the Lord’s beneficence
And of our embrace.81

 

She neither trembles nor changes
Into some other form or state,
But the glory of her brilliance
Majestically stretches out.82
She is herself heaven of heaven on earth
Celebrated in her resplendent form.

 

Just as without the Father of Christ
None can be perfected in the Spirit,
Neither can they be perfected
Without this, our Mother’s womb.83

 

The Incomprehensible One would be
Homeless, wandering
If He did not dwell in
This tabernacle, this home.
The Lord would have no where
To rest his head84
If he did not enter and lodge in
This station of life.

 

The immensity of the divine light
Shines forth more gloriously
In this material dwelling
Than in heaven’s sublime arch,
Just as its type, the prophet’s hidden face,
When they fled from
The glory of his countenance,85
And the priests could not endure
Her likeness in the temple.86

 

During a feast of great solemnity and praise
The choirs of rational beings87assembled there
Sing blessings with a yearning greater
Than that for the garden of delight.

 

[12]

 

This spiritual mother, celestial, luminous,
Caressed me as her son
More than my earthly, human, physical mother.88
The milk of her breasts was the blood of Christ.

 

If one were to write that the God-bearer89
Is an icon of the Church,
One would not be unjustified.

 

Like the sign of the cross of salvation,
She effects wondrous powers
In many admirable ways
And miracles of several kinds.90

 

We see the judgment seat91
Of the terrible court
Established in her.
Through her are silenced the mouths
Of the heretics, the capricious schismatics.
She possesses stones of
Reason and of intellect.
With them she removes the savage
And banishes the impure.92

 

At times she gives birth to gods,
Pure images of the one God, Christ.93

 

She fixes our attention to the east,94
To the place of promise and our first abode.
Her hand shows clearly and in vigilance
the way of God’s advent;

She teaches us by presenting
The lightning in the Lord’s allegory.95
She interprets to the creatures of earth
The appearance of the dawning of the morning star,96
The salvation through Christ on the last day.97

 

She expels pain, heals the sick,
Conquers demonic possession;
 
Her womb is the life-giving font;
In the chorus of her wedding
Are the ranks of the apostles.98

 

Abounding and flourishing
In such great blessing,
She is rightly called
By the name Savior.
 
The companions of the Only-Begotten One
Declared and confirmed her
As the Mother of the Lord
And of the Light.
 
Tranquil harbor for storm-tossed sinners,
Banquet-hall of the celestial ranks,
Infallible hospital for anxious debtors,
In her is the ineffable Trinity
Praised and blessed for all.

 

[13]

 

But if anyone raises their wicked hand
Against the heavenly kingdom,99
Or presumes the traditions of the Church
To be some fleshly artifice,
A human device or earth-born deceit,
Made by human hands—

 

And if they do not confess that
She is in truth the gift
Of abundant life,
The divine and prophesied sign,
Revealed in renewed light
By the Holy Spirit,
The fullness of the favors
Of the all-giving Most High,
The incense-worthy office100of the creator’s will,
The wise beneficence of the apostles’ right hand—
To say it all at once—
The door of heaven,
The city of the living God
And mother of all life,101
Who frees us from our debts;
An exact model of our rational form,
An intelligible symbol of our soul,102
A new sanctuary more sublime
Than the unspeakable temples of old;
She is crowned in splendor
With the sign of Christ—

 

Then will they be dismissed
From the presence of
The Almighty Father through
His consubstantial Word.
And he will lift from them
The deposit of grace
Of the Spirit equal in glory,
And close the door of life
And the curtain103before them.

 

As for us who write these words,
We testify and believe all
That we have set down.
In the name and to the glory
Of the Almighty Trinity,
One God, forever and ever.
Amen.

 

There is my faith in the Trinity;
And here is my profession, my vow
To my Mother, luminous, glorious.104

 

 

 

 

 

1.The swindler and deceiver is Satan but also Smbat Zarehavants‘i.

2.This suggests that G himself joined the T‘ondrakean movement. We know from G’s letter to the abbot of K‘chaw that at least in some of the monasteries there were monks with T‘ondrakean sympathies. Also the Armenian synaxarion reports an episode in which G was accused of heresy. At the very least it is highly plausible that G may have been suspected of the heresy.  G’s abbot and teacher, Anania of Narek. was anathematized for his alleged T‘ondrakism. But there is also the possibility that in this exhortation to the T‘ondrakeans,  G deliberately avoids taking an accusatory stance and instead presents himself as one also prone to the temptation of apostasy. So he must first must confess and be forgiven of this notional sin before he judges any heretics, following the dictate of  Matthew 5:7—first cast out the beam in your own eye and then you shall be ready to cast out the mote of your brother’s eye.

3.Eph 1:22-23

4.Col 1:22

5.Zch 12:8.

6.The mechanical and shallow worship that G’s father, Khosrov Anjewats‘i, decried. One can bow down before God in worship without understanding its meaning or with any feelings of piety.

7.The fireless holocaust is G’s offering of his words.

8.1 Cor 11:27-32

9.Cf. Ps 95[94]:1-2

10.After having professed his faith in the Trinity, G focuses his attention on each of the three persons, ending this section with the Father before he turns to the Son in the next.

11.Cf. Gen 22:18; Lk 1:42

12.The language of an interpenetrating mixture to describe the Incarnation is characteristic of the miaphysite Christology of the Armenian Church based on the writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria.

13.Is 11:1

14.Christ’s divinity shared in the suffering of hiss humanity.

15.A vivid depiction of the close union of the divine and human in Christ: Christ’s divinity so intimately penetrates the flesh that the divinity participates fully in the suffering and death of the body. The essence of the creator is united inseparably and paradoxically with the created flesh.

16.1 Pet 3:18-19

17.աւձտող, ‘scatterer’, a common descriptive name for Satan. Note also the phonetic relation to աւձ, ‘serpent’, although the two words are not etymologically related.

18.Jn 6:35

19.Ez 34:31; Jn 10:11

20.1 Tim 3:16

21.Against the docetists and heretical monophysites who deny or minimize Christ’s humanity , Christ came as a complete human with a body and was raised in his body.

22.Rev 22:13

23.1 Tim 6:16

24.Gen 1:2

25.The Spirit who hovers over the face of the water in Gen 1:2 is a prefiguration of the sacrament of baptism.

26.Eph 4:11

27.Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16

28.Mt 3.16-17; Mk 1.10-11; 9.7; Lk 3.22; 9.34-35

29.Mt 17.5

30.Cf. Is 61.1

31.This closes the profession of faith in the Trinity and the next section turns to the laudatory apology for the Church.

32.While agreeing with the T‘ondrakeans that the church structure is inanimate, G affirms that it is also the house of God and the blessed sacrament, and therefore worthy of veneration.

33.The upper room of Pentecost, the birth place of the Church.

34.In the same room at the Last Supper, Christ instituted the Eucharist. Cf. Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19-20.

35.Acts 2:1-4

36.The spirit is the Holy Spirit that descended on the apostles in the upper room. By cutting themselves off from the apostolic church, the T‘ondrakeans are not truly worshipping God in spirit and truth (cf. Jn 4:23). The “lifeless columns” do not distinguish a house as a place of worship; rather, the church building, through the mediation of the apostles and their successors—the bishops and priests–comes to be the dwelling of the Spirit and the Body of Christ, who is Truth. Therefore, it is in the Incarnate Church that Christ’s prophecy that we worship in spirit and in truth is realized.

37.Cf. G’s commentary on Job 38-39, a work attributed to G but whose authorship has been challenged by scholars:  Abel’s blood cried out and said ‘The heavenly Lamb shall come and destroy death’, and the blood of Christ, the blood of the New Covenant graced us with deliverance so that we may say ‘Where, O death, is your victory?’(1 Cor 15:55).

38.An allusion to the T‘ondrakean practice of worshipping in open air.

39.Lev 17:1-19

40.Rom 6:3; Eph 4:5

41.Cf. Heb 6:4-6. This stanza is directed both against the T‘ondrakean rejection of the orthodox understanding of the sacrament of baptism, but also against the practice of rebaptism that began to be followed by both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonians communions. If Mahé is correct that this part of the BL is relatively late, then it would be around the time that G was writing this that the question of rebaptism began to emerge again after a period of relative amity between the Byzantines and Armenians. Alternatively, the question of rebaptism would also concern ex-T‘ondrakeans who request to be received back into the Armenian Church. In the spirit of Hebrews, G may be admonishing those attracted by the heresy that like the early Christians who were tempted to return to Judaism, they cannot be rebaptized if they renounce their baptism.

42.Mt 25:31-46; Eph 4:5

43.This is perhaps a reference to the T‘ondrakeans’ alleged antinomianism according to which the sins of the body do not affect the soul, and thus carnal behavior does not compromise one’s spiritual salvation. G criticizes this harshly dualistic view of the human person and insists that the person is a union of body and soul, both of which face final judgment together.

44.This line is a conjectural addition by Mahé and does not appear in any of the manuscripts. We find Mahé’s arguments for this addition compelling.

45.Cf. Gen 2:16-17

46.Ex 4:1-5; 17

47.Nmb 17:23

48.2 Kg 2:8, 14

49.These are OT examples of material objects that mediate the graces of God. As such they are types of the Cross but also of the Church and the sanctified matter of its sacraments. G thus challenges the T‘ondrakean’s claim that matter cannot be endowed with spiritual powers.

50.That is, the hands of the ordained priests have the power the forgive sins through the sacrament of confession and that power extends to both the body and the soul of the sinner. A purely “spiritual” soul cannot heal the whole person.

51.Cf. BL72.1: the bare hands of the monks there and the hands of the priest here administering sacraments are stronger than any material weapons.

52.It is the materiality of the Church that allows it to have solidarity with humans who are themselves made of matter. A purely “spiritual” church is not a church for humans since it only relates to half of human nature.

53.1 Pet 2:4

54.Jn 2:19

55.Cf. Ps 147[146]:4

56.G refers to the hierarchy and ranks established among the clergy. These ranks are themselves a reflection of the celestial harmony ordained by God.

57.Here G responds to the charge of corruption and venality among the ordained clergy. In his letter to the abbot Kchaw, lists among the errors of the T‘ondrakeans their rejection of apostolic ordination and their practice of self-ordination. Against this haphazard approach, G contrasts the Church’s tests of election to determine if a man is worthy to enter the priesthood. Nevertheless, men who are properly formed and prepared still become priests. While this brings dishonor to the Church, it does not compromise her purity. The last line is an allusion to Song of Songs 1:5—I am black and beautiful. In his commentary on the Song, G focuses on the Bride of the Song as a symbol of the Church. She is darkened by the sins of her members but remains throughout beautiful.

58.G presents the canonical prohibitions against a priest’s celebration of the Eucharist twice in one day and the reception of communion more than once per day.

59.Gn 6:14

60.Gn 7:1-21

61.Noah’s ark is a prefiguring type of the Church, but the Church is greater since it does not only shelter humans on earth but brings them to heaven.

62.Wis 1:5

63.Ex 31:1-11

64.God commanded Moses to build the ark of the covenant. The Church was not built by human hands but is divine, and therefore greater than the arks built by the OT patriarchs, and a fortiorigreater than the religious associations created by heretics.

65.2 Sam 6-7

66.Cf. Acts 2:6. G emphasizes the universality of the Church and its speaking in the tongues of all nations at Pentecost. This universal proclamation and presence is one of the marks of the Church that distinguishes it from the parochial nature of sects.

67.Jsh 3:4

68.Ex 5:6-18

69.պատառումն occurs in the Arm NT twice, (Mt 9:16, Mk 2:21) both referring to the tear in the unshrunk cloth on an old garment. There may also be an allusion to the piercing of Christ’s side on the Cross, which is prefigured by Moses’ striking the rock with his rod (Ex 17:6-7).

70.1 Kg 5:17-18; 2 Ez 3:8; Zch 4:9

71.The word is ոստիկանութիւն, ‘inspectorship, ministry’ which also recalls in G’s day the office of ոստիկան, the Arab governors of Armenia, whose rule could often be harsh. The choice of word here accentuates the alien and malignant character of the heresiarchs who attempt to build churches by their own human hands. Although G is speaking of OT builders of the temple, he is clearly aiming this at his contemporary dissidents who attempt to build their own house of God rather than remaining part of the divinely constructed Church of Christ.

72.In contrast to the temple, which had human architects, the true architect of the Church is God.

73.Gn 28:18

74.Lk 16:22

75.Rev 21:2

76.Cf. also G’s commentary on Song of Songs 1:9, where the maidens are said to be “apostles, prophets, and teachers”.

77.A reference to khachkarsor stone-crosses that have taken the place of the idolatrous steles and mounds. The T‘ondrakeans rejected the veneration of the cross. Also figuratively these khachkars are symbols of the living stones that bear the cross on their bodies and worship Christ.

78.Defending veneration of material objects like the cross against the T‘ondrakean accusation of idolatry, G carefully distinguishes between the idols of old and the objects of proper veneration. They may be materially the same objects, made of stone and wood, but through the sanctification of the Church they are directed toward worship of the living God rather than the dead divinities of the pagans. The living stones are the members of the Church, and the jewels are those who lead holy lives. Cf. Is 54:11.

79.Cf. Gal 4:26

80.The Church is not just an image of heaven, but its very presence on earth. So too the Eucharist is not just a symbol but the real presence of Christ among us.

81.Here G emphasizes the freedom from bondage that the Church grants: we are free from service to any idols or to an unforgiving law. Instead we worship the God who freely offers us grace and forgiveness.

82.One sign of the Church is its universality. Another is her unwavering teaching of orthodox doctrine. The T‘ondrakeans, who deviate substantially from the apostolic tradition and who do not extend throughout the world, do not have the marks of the Church.

83.Cf. Jn 3:3.

84.Mt 8:20

85.Ex 34:29-35; 40:34-35; 1 Kg 8:11

86.The likeness is the ark of the covenant. Cf. Ex 40:28-29.

87.The choir brings together the voices of angels and humans.

88.A reference to G’s earthly mother, who died in his infancy.

89.Աստուածածին, the Armenian equivalent of Theotokos.

90.Connection between the cruciform church building and the sign of the cross: both work miracles.

91.Բեմhas the double meaning of altar (cf.bema) and seat of judgment.

92.The Church ideally does not resort to violence but rather uses reason and argument to persuade the heretics.

93.Referring to the saints, living icons of Christ. Instead of the dead idols of the pagans, the Church has living idols who derive their “divinity” from their conformity to Christ.

94.Referring to the altar facing the east in the direction of the advent of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, as well as the location of Eden.

95.Lk 17:24

96.Cf. 2 Pt 1:19

97.The Church’s essential role in interpretation of scripture and explaining the figures of the bible as allegories of Christ’s second coming. The word translated as “interpret” is թարգմանեմ, ‘translate’, from Syriac targuman (cf. Hebrew targum, Aramaic interpretations and paraphrases of scripture).

98.Cf. BL 75.10

99.A reference to the alleged T‘ondrakean practice of destroying crosses and liturgical objects.

100.Խորհրդարանrefers primarily to a parliament or assembly of legislators but also can mean the place where sacraments are administered. The ambiguity here underscores the connection between the Church’s juridical-legal role in judging as well as its dispensing of the sacraments.

101.Cf. Gal 4:26

102.Like humans, the Church is both spirit and matter. The Church is thus the archetype of the person. Denial of the material Church is also denial of the human body and, since Christ is perfect man, the Incarnation.

103.Represented by the curtain of the temple and also the altar curtain in Armenian churches.

104.One cannot profess faith in the Trinity and reject the Church. One’s spiritual birth is through God and the Church. To disavow one is to disavow the other.