Research School » Research School PLUS » Funded Projects » VIPs » VIPs - Pogossian/Krech

Early Eastern Christianity

Prof. Zara Pogossian
John Cabot University, Rome, Italy


Prof. Volkhard Krech
Center for Religious Studies

Activities during the winter term 2015/16
Intensive Language/Translation Courses using Late Antique Armenian texts, those belonging to the so-called “Golden Period” of Armenian literature. These include: Agathangelos’ “History of the Armenians” and Koriwn’s “Life of Mesrop Maštoc'” / Potential PhD exchange between the University of California (Los Angeles) and the Ruhr-University Bochum

After the successful realization of several introductory courses on Classical Armenian in 2015, Prof. Pogossian continued her teaching activities during the winter term 2015/16 in various ways. Firstly, Prof. Pogossian organized two block lectures dealing with the translation and discussion of several parts of Agathangelos’ famous “History of the Armenians” (also called “Life of Gregory”). Both block lectures took place at the Centre for Religious Studies (CERES) at the Ruhr-University Bochum in November and December 2015. Secondly, Prof. Pogossian offered the opportunity to teach individual classes on a regular basis for those students who have already reached a certain level of Classical Armenian and who plan to work closely together with Prof. Pogossian in the near future. The first participant of these individual classes is Prof. Pogossian’s PhD student Thomas Jurczyk (CERES/ RUB) with whom Prof. Pogossian has recently started to translate parts of Koriwn’s “Life of Mesrop Maštoc'.” The focus of this translation process is closely connected to Thomas Jurczyk’s PhD topic “Holiness and Sainthood in the Context of the Early Armenian Church” and should examine the way Koriwn uses the notion of “holy” (սուրբ) in his texts. The “Life of Mesrop Maštoc'” will also be at the core of examination during Prof. Pogossian’s upcoming intensive language class in Bochum (presumably in June 2016). Again, every advanced Master student, PhD student or Post-Doc who is interested in joining is encouraged to write an e-mail to in order to register. The participation is free of charge. The exact dates of the next seminars will be announced soon.
In addition, Prof. Pogossian took a first step towards a potential future cooperation between the section of Armenian studies in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California (Los Angeles) and the CERES in Bochum. The first goal of this process is to establish a PhD student exchange between the two universities from which both departments would greatly benefit. She is also working towards establishing formal ties between RUB and Yerevan State University, the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan (Armenia), as well as Ilya State University in Tbilisi (Georgia).

June 17th – June 24th
First Part of the Intensive Language Course on “Classical Armenian” and the Introduction to the History and Culture of Ancient Armenia (5th – 9th century CE)

During her first stay as a “Visiting International Professor” at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in June 2015, Prof. Zara Pogossian taught a class on the Classical Armenian language and gave an introduction to the history and culture of ancient Armenia. The seminar was the first of a series of seminars and language classes on the subject of “Ancient Armenia” and will be continued by Prof. Pogossian during her next visits to the Ruhr-Universität Bochum as a VIP. All seminars are open to advanced Master students, PhD students and Post-Docs of any subject and each seminar can be attended without any prerequisite knowledge (however, people interested in joining are kindly asked to write an e-mail in advance to

The seminar in June focused on the fundamentals of the Classical Armenian language of the so-called “Golden Age” (5th until 9th cent. CE) on the basis of Robert W. Thomson’s text book “An Introduction to Classical Armenian” (New York 1998). As the participants of the first meeting already had some basic knowledge of Classical Armenian, Prof. Pogossian was able to introduce the students to some of the original text sources (mainly deriving from the New Testament). At the end of the first week, Prof. Pogossian and the students agreed that the latter should continue working on their language skills until the next meeting in November to hopefully be able to start working on some of the easier passages from the historiographical sources of the 5th – 9th century CE (for instance, P'awstos Buzandac'i's History of the Armenians).

Besides the linguistic part, Prof. Pogossian also introduced the students to the general history of ancient Armenia, beginning with the state-supported Christianization in the early 4th century CE and the conflicts between Rome, the Sassanid Empire and the Armenian rulers until the division of Armenia around 387 CE into a smaller Roman area and a much bigger Persian part. During the next seminars, this introduction to the history of ancient Armenia shall be continued in a chronological sense by looking at the events after 387 CE and subsequently the 5th century CE. However, the focus of the seminar so far has been on the Classical Armenian language whereas the historical part mainly provided general information for the better understanding of the textual sources. Therefore, in order to also deepen the historical knowledge of the students, Prof. Pogossian might split up her future teachings into two different seminars: one focusing on language and the other on the history of Armenia.

The next seminar and language course will take place in November 2015. Every advanced Master student, PhD student or Post-Doc who is interested in joining is encouraged to do so and to write an e-mail to in order to register. The participation is free of charge. The exact dates of the next seminars will be announced soon.

Figure: The Armenian Text of Matthew, chapter 28. © Robert W. Thomson: An Introduction to Classical Armenian, New York 1998, p.122.