The ancient land of Georgia (Iberia), in the Caucasus, has a long history of settlement and invasion, including incursions by Hittites, Scythians, Persians, and Greeks, to name a few. Pre-Christian beliefs included a varied assortment of beliefs and practices borrowed from Zoroastrian, classical pagan, and other traditions. The accounts of the conversion of Georgia preserved in sources of the 5th, 8th, and 12th centuries reveal how pre-Christian practices were taken up and reinterpreted by the Christian narrators. While there is some evidence of earlier missionary efforts, according to Rufinus' account in the Ecclesiastical History (402-403) Georgia's official conversion to Christianity took place in the first half of the fourth century. This conversion is unique in a number of ways, not the least being that credit for it must be given to a woman, St. Nino, the apostle to the Georgians. Later Georgian sources (12th century) indicate a substantial measure of discomfort with the conversion of Georgia by a woman.
The structural framework and individual themes of the sermons of Christ to his disciples as they are presented in the Arabic Apocryphal Gospel of John emphasize the need to preserve and restore church structures with a focus on the support of the priestly ministry. They also highlight the relevance of rebuilding and protecting Christian social life that appears to be threatened from many sides. The text avails itself of these apocalyptic and eschatological interests in order to support overriding ecclesiological concerns for the survival, recovery, and ultimately for the transformation of the Christian church that is faced with a day-to-day Islamic reality of life that has both hostile and attractive sides.
The volume contains contributions dedicated to the person and the work of Shalva Nutsubidze and his scholarly interests: the Christian Orient from the fifth to the seventh century, the Georgian eleventh century, the Neoplatonic philosopher Ioane Petritsi and his epoch and Shota Rustaveli and mediaeval Georgian culture. Among the articles are a new edition and translation of the original Georgian author’s Preface to the lost
Commentary on the Psalms by Ioane Petritsi and the
editio princeps with an English translation of an epistle of Nicetas Stethatos (eleventh century), whose Greek original is lost.
The traditions of Georgian mediaeval thought are considered in their historical context within the Byzantine Commonwealth and are traced in both philosophy and poetry.