A catalogue of Armenian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries

MS. Arm. d. 11

Oriental Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: John Chrysostom's Commentary on Epistle to Ephesians, which is believed to have been translated into Armenian from Greek in the fifth century (for more on the corpus Chrysostomicum in the Armenian tradition, see Bonfiglio 2020). The critical edition of this text was published in Venice in 1862 in vol. I of the Commentaries on the Pauline Epistles (pp. 672-942). According to Conybeare (p. 156), one of the manuscripts used for this edition was copied from the present copy in Tiflis (Tbilisi) a few years before the publication (see the History section). There are missing pages at the beginning and at the end of the manuscript, and in its present condition, it begins with the words զհրեշտակական վարս ցուցցուք (see p. 681 of the printed edition) and ends with … քանզի զպատերազմաց եւ զմարտից յուշ արար, ցուցա (p. 932). According to Baronian and Conybeare, there are many errors in the text: “It is particularly to be remarked that there is a shuffling of large portions of the text, as on ff. 203-210, in the 22nd and 23rd chapters. The following is the order in which the reader must there follow the text: – After f. 203b, col. I, 1. 15, չյաղթեցեր, pass to f. 205b, col. II, 1. 26, եւ աստ եթէ..., as far as f. 205, col. II, 1. 25, եթէ որպէս. f. 209, col. I, 1. 17, մարդիկ վասն զի ... as far as f. 210, col. II, 1. 25, հաստատուն կալոյ. f. 210, col. II, 1. 9, յայտնի զմեջս ... as far as f. 209, col. I, 1.17, թշնամեացն շինիցէ. f. 210b, col. II, 1. 25, եւ ոչ անձին. Having regard to the equal lengths of these displaced portions, it is easy to see that the dislocation was produced by a transposition of folios of the original copy, unnoticed by our copyist or his predecessor” (pp. 154-155).
Incipit: ||զհրեշտակական վարս ցուցցուք
Explicit: քանզի զպատերազմաց եւ զմարտից յուշ արար, ցուցա ||
Language(s): Armenian


Bonfiglio, Emilio. “The Armenian Translations of John Chrysostom: The Issues of Selection.” In Madalina Toca and Dan Batovici (eds.), Caught in Translation: Studies on Versions of Late Antique Christian Literature. Leiden: Brill, 2020, pp. 35-63.
John Chrysostom. Meknutʻiwn Tʻłtʻocʻn Pawłosi (Commentaries on the Pauline Epistles). Venetik: S. Ghazar, 1862.
van Lint, Theo Maarten and Robin Meyer (eds.). Armenia: Masterpieces from an Enduring Culture. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2015, no 22, pp. 118-119.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Vellum.
Extent: ff. 211
Dimensions (leaf): 287 × 198 mm.


The quires, of 8 folios each, were originally 29 in number; there are now missing the first and last ones, and one leaf after f. 16, namely, the first of the second original quire. These are numbered with the Armenian alphabet in the usual sequence in the middle of the lower margins both of the first and last pages of each quire.


The manuscript is very fragile and badly damaged by humidity and physical harm. The first page is nearly illegible, and ff. 1-6 have most likely been perforated by a hot iron. The upper outside corners of folios are discoloured by damp throughout the volume, as well as ff. 77–144. The margins of ff. 39-46, as well as ff. 163-166, have been cut off with scissors from top to the bottom, slightly impairing the text in some places.


Double columns, with large margins, of 26 lines each, having on an average 16 letters to the line. 200 × 145 mm.


Script: The writing is a small erkat‘agir or uncial letters 3 mm. high, and is executed with much neatness, regularity, and uniformity. The doxologies, that is, the concluding lines of the Homilies, are traced in smaller characters; in these also are supplied on the margin passages omitted by mistake, as on ff. 18, 56b, etc. The bolorgir form of the letter յ occasionally occurs, to economise space at the end of lines: e.g. ff. 28b, 57, 166, etc. The orthography of the MS. is rather archaic. The words are not separated. Both forms, այղ and այլ are employed, and the writer does not follow any strict rule in the separation of words at the end of lines, though he seems in general to try to close the line with a vowel, and these vowels are charged generally with a dash on the top, as, for instance, on f. 30, տարա | կուսութիւն, ապաշաւի | ցէ, փորձ ի | բաց. Scribe: Step‘annos.


The MS. is embellished with several marginal ornaments (ff. 1r, 4v, 9v, 20v, 26r, 30r, 35r, 37v, 51v, 54v, 73r, 81r, 86r, 87v, 99r, 105v, 110v, 115v, 132v, 139r, 146r, 153r, 154v, 159r, 165r, 176r, 184v, 187r, 194r, 207r, 211r), and has two frontal vignettes inserted in the text, on ff. 123v and 133r. These illuminations mark the beginnings both of chapters and of the homiletic parts (յորդորակ) of the commentaries. They consist of outline designs, scrolls either of simple form, or more frequently of intertwisted foliations, coloured with red, green, yellow, and sometimes dark blue or dark brown. The pigments employed are crude and without gradation, but contrast all the more strikingly with the beauty of the writing and material.


The original binding is missing. The manuscript was bound with the current binding in late 19th or early 20th centuries.


Origin: 11th cent.

Provenance and Acquisition

According to the commemorative note on f. 123r, the sponsor of the manuscript was a certain Step‘anos, who could also have been the scribe of the manuscript.

According to Baronian and Conybeare, “we can infer something of its history from two copies preserved in the library of San Lazzaro, Venice, nos, 652 and 697, from which the printed edition was made. Both these copies were made by Ter Nerses Sargissian, no. 697 in Tiflis in the year 1852, no. 652 in Althamar. Now the former of these lacks the text comprised in the missing quires of this MS., and it also has lacunae corresponding to the perforation made through the first few folios of our copy (cf. Venice ed., pp. 681, 682,683, etc.). It moreover repeats the interchange of folios, noted above, as I am informed by the librarian. Sargissian in his note points out that his original was written on vellum in ergathagir. These facts prove that Sargissian's original was our MS., which therefore was in Tiflis as early as 1852, in the possession of Ter Sahak Saharuni, son of Ter Melchised. Coming to the other copy, no. 652, we know from the notice of the same scholar (Sargissian), that he has copied it in 1849 in the convent of Althamar, in the Lake of Van, from a MS. in bolorgir, executed in the Armenian year 1082 (A. D. 1632) by a scribe named Margaré. This copy is free from the imperfections at the beginning and the end of our MS., but it contains the same dislocations of text. The latter fact proves our MS. to have been closely related to the Ałthamar copy of 1632. Yet it may be doubted if our MS. was the archetype of the Aļthamar copy, for the latter here and there affords variants which can hardly be attributed to the capacity of the writer Margaré: such are the words հրամանք, չգոհեցի, instead of հմայք, չզինիցի of our MS. (pp. 852 and 857, ed. Venice). It would appear, therefore, that our MS. and that of Althamar, both derived from a common ancestor, in which the interchange of pages was found. It is also probable that our MS. originated in Althamar. The excellency of the writing material, the fineness of the penmanship, and the style of characters all concur to show that it was made at a time when that region, namely Vaspourakan, was a flourishing literary centre under the royal dynasty of Ardzrounik, which came to an end in the first quarter of the 11th century” (pp. 156-157).

A handwritten note under the last cover of the manuscript provides information about the acquisition of the codex: “The uncial Armenian Codex of Chrisostomus Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to Ephesians was bought by me [i.e., F. C. Conybeare – DZ] (Nov. 1891) for the sum of £25 from a priest of the Armenian Cathedral in Tiflis by name Ciut Aghranean, who found it in the house of a friend who was ignorant of its value and wished to throw it away as rubbish. This former owner of it could give no account of it except that his family brought it from Siunik. I owe the above particulars to S. N. Karamianz of Tiflis, the cataloguer of the Armenian manuscripts in the Berlin Library. Fed. C. Conybeare Oxford 1892”

Record Sources

The main text of this description is from Baronian and Conybeare, Catalogue of the Armenian manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, N68, pp. 154-157. Several additions and corrections to the text have been introduced by David Zakarian for the online catalogue.


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Funding of Cataloguing

Carnegie Foundation