How the Chronicle of Eusebius was rediscovered

Since 1998 Dr. Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan has been working on a new edition of the Armenian text of Eusebius Chronicle, with German translation *. She kindly sent me an off-print of an article about this. It looks as if the prefaces of both the Latin edition of Petermann (1875-6) and the German one of Karst (1911) are mistaken about a lot of things to do with the manuscripts.

The manuscript of this work was discovered in 1782 in the Eastern Armenian town of Šamaxi by a certain George Dpir Ter Yovhannisean (1737-1811), who was acting as liason man between the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople and the exiled Armenian Mechitarist monks in Venice. This is the ‘Lector George’ of Petermann.

It seems that while staying in the town, after a hearty meal at which the Madras wine flowed freely, he got up in the night feeling thirsty and went in search of the water jug. He found it, and found that a manuscript with a strong leather binding was being used as the lid. This was the ms. of the Chronicle, and has been dated in the past to the 12th century.

The ms. then went to Jerusalem; Constantinople; and then to the library of the monastery at Echmiadzin. After the Soviets took over Armenia, mss. were removed from monasteries to central libraries, and in 1939 the ms. was in Yerevan, in the Matenadaran manuscript institute, under the shelfmark Codex Maten. 1904.

In 1793 Dpir copied this manuscript himself, and sent his copy to the Mechitarists. It arrived at Christmas 1794, and is no. 931 in their library.

A further copy exists, made in Tokat in 1696, which is now in Venice as codex no. 302. The sigla in the editions, unfortunately, reflect confusion about what mss. exist.

Adolf von Harnack arranged for a photographic copy to be made of the original ms. by his pupil, Karapet Ter-Mekerttschian, who had discovered and published Irenaeus Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. This copy has been in Berlin, in the “Archiv der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften” for almost a century, and was used by Karst. However the differences between this and the only published edition, that of Aucher, are very small.

Dr. Drost-Abgarjan has located a florilegium on paper (Codex Maten. 2679, s.IX) containing extracts from many historical works, which includes portions of the Chronicle. This will allow some lacunae to be filled up. She has also located various quotations in later Armenian authors, which will be used for the new edition. The new material will be published first; then the new edition.

* Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan, Ein neuer Fund zur armenischen Version der Eusebios-Chronik, in “Julius Africanus und die christliche Weltchronistik” (Ed. Wallraff) (2006) pp.255-262. I hope to translate this and place it online.


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