Women, Too, Were Blessed

The Portrayal of Women in Early Christian Armenian Texts


The Women, Too, Were Blessed by David Zakarian is the first extensive study of the representation of women in the fifth-century Armenian literature and historiography. It investigates the ways in which the ecclesiastical authorities envisioned the role of women in society after Christianisation and reveals some aspects of women’s lived experience in the patriarchal society of Armenia. The book offers a close scrutiny of all the passages that speak about women examining them within the context of pre-Christian (Zoroastrian) beliefs of the Armenians and the works of Greek and Syriac Church Fathers. The texts invariably evince the authors’ tendency to construct and promote role models of influential, pious Christian women who contributed to the preservation and promulgation of the new religion.

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David Zakarian, DPhil (2015), University of Oxford, is an Associate Member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies in Oxford and an Associate of Pembroke College. He has published several articles and book chapters on the representation of women in early Christian Armenian literature. His recent project as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2019) was dedicated to the study of colophons of medieval Armenian manuscripts.

 1 Scope
 2 The Fifth Century
 3 Two Traditions of the Christianisation of Armenia
 4 Previous Research
 5 Nature of the Texts: Representation versus Lived Reality
 6 In Comparison with Other Traditions
 7 Structure of the Book
 8 Brief Overview of the Primary Sources

part i: Context

1 Women in Pre-Christian Arsacid Armenia
 1 Introduction
 2 Armenian Society in the First–Fourth Centuries CE
 3 The Institution of the Family
 4 Customary Law
 5 The Pre-Christian Religion of Armenia
 6 Conclusion

part ii: Representation

2 The Representation of St Sanduxt in The Martyrdom of St Thaddeus and Sanduxt
 1 Introduction
 2 St Thecla as a Literary Model for Armenian Authors
 3 The Representation of Sanduxt
 4 Additional Remarks
 5 Conclusion

3 Women in Agat‘angełos’ History of the Armenians
 1 Introduction
 2 The Literary Aspects of the Text
 3 The Prologue and the Life
 4 The Representation of Hṙip‘simē and Her Companions
 5 The Teaching
 6 Xosroviduxt and Ašxēn
 7 Conclusion

4 The Early Armenian Church and Female Asceticism
 1 Introduction
 2 Female Asceticism in the Greco-Syriac Sources
 3 Female Asceticism in the Fifth-Century Armenian Texts
 4 Conclusion

part iii: Lived Reality

5 Women in Society: Spaces, Roles, and Everyday Life
 1 Introduction
 2 Physical Spaces
 3 Women as Educators
 4 Glimpses of Everyday Life
 5 Conclusion

6 Marriage in Early Christian Armenia
 1 Introduction
 2 Different Traditions
 3 Local Customs
 4 Marriage Patterns of the Armenian Elite
 5 Widowhood
 6 Women in the Šahapivan Canons: Additional Remarks
 7 Conclusion

7 Queenship in Arsacid Armenia
 1 Introduction
 2 The Queen’s Title
 3 Symbolic Attributes of Authority
 4 The Queen’s Authority
 5 The Exercise of Power
 6 Court Intrigues
 7 Conclusion

8 Violence against Women
 1 Introduction
 2 The System of Honour and Shame
 3 The Epic Histories
 4 Domestic Violence
 5 Conclusion

Everyone interested in women’s history and gender studies within the early Christian Armenian literary and historiographical tradition.
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