Sebeos

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Sebeos (Armenian: Սեբեոս) was a 7th-century Armenian bishop and historian.

Little is known about the author, though a signature of on the resolution of the Ecclesiastical Council of Dvin reads 'Bishop Sebeos of Bagratunis.' His writings are valuable as one of the few intact surviving sources that chronicle sixth century Armenia and its surrounding territories.[1] The history of Sebeos contains detailed descriptions from the period of Sassanid supremacy in Armenia up to the Islamic conquest in 661. His history was published for the first time in 1851 in Istanbul.[2]

Writings[edit]

To him has been attributed the A History of Heraclius, chronicling events from the end of the fifth century to 661.[3] The first section begins with the mythical foundation of Armenia with the Legend of Hyke and Bel, moving to contemporary history with the ascent of Vardan II Mamikonian in 570. From there, he relates the struggles and alliances between Persia and Byzantium.

The second section narrates the ascent of a new political and military force, the Ishmaelites (i.e. Arabs).

Twelve peoples representing all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. When they saw that the Persian troops had departed leaving the city in peace, they closed the gates and fortified themselves. They refused entry to troops of the Roman lordship. Thus Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. When the Jews realized that they could not militarily resist him, they promised to make peace. Opening the city gates, they went before him, and Heraclius ordered that they should go and stay in their own place. So they departed, taking the road through the desert to Tachkastan Arabia to the sons of Ishmael. The Jews called the Arabs to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the Old Testament. Although the Arabs were convinced of their close relationship, they were unable to get a consensus from their multitude, for they were divided from each other by religion. In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Muhammad, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God’s command, was revealed to them, and Muhammad taught them to recognize the God of Abraham, especially since he was informed and knowledgeable about Mosaic history. Because the command had come from on High, he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith. Abandoning the reverence of vain things, they turned toward the living God, who had appeared to their father–Abraham. Muhammad legislated that they were not to eat carrion, not to drink wine, not to speak falsehoods, and not to commit adultery. He said: “God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when God loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you."

This section describes how Muhammad first established a community comprising Ishmaelites and Jews based on their common descent from Abraham; the Arabs via Ishmael, and the Jews via Isaac.[4] From there, the Ishmaelites made dramatic territorial gains, including their victory over the Sassanian dynasty, and the narrative ends with the division of the Ishmaelite armies and the beginnings of the First Fitna. He relates these developments to Armenia, where he wrote these chronicles, and how it established new political dynamics between the nascent Islamic caliphate and the Byzantine empire.

Literature[edit]

  • The Armenian History attributed to Sebeos, translated, with Notes, by R. W. Thomson, historical Commentary by J. Howard-Johnston, Assistance from T. Greenwood (Translated Texts for Historians), 2 Volumes, Liverpool 1999.
  • T. Greenwood, "Sasanian Echoes and Apocalyptic Expectations: A Re-Evaluation of the Armenian History attributed to Sebeos", Le Muséon 115, Fasc. 1—2 (2002) 323—397.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hacikyan, Agop; Basmanjian, Bagriel; Franchuk, Edward; Ouzounian, Nourhan. The Heritage of Armenian Literature Volume II. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. p. 82. ISBN 0-8143-3023-1. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Hacikyan, Jack. The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the sixth to the Eighteenth Century. p. 81. 
  3. ^ Ararat , Volume 27. Armenian General Benevolent Union. p. 16.  to him
  4. ^ Howard-Johnston, James. The Armenian History Attributed to Sebeos. Liverpool University Press. pp. li. ISBN 0-85323-564-3. 

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