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Coming this Fall!

Coming this Fall!

A New Accredited Course at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary for Students of St. Nersess and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

Armenian Christian Art & Theology: Studies on Martyrs & Martyrdoms in Image and Text

Instructor: Dr. Ani Shahinian, Assistant Professor of the Grace and Paul Shahinian Lectureship in Armenian Christian Art and Culture

Course Description: A course on Christian Martyrs and Martyrdom is a study of the testimony, suffering, persecution, and death of Christians for their faith and convictions throughout history, and the expression of that reality in artifacts of illuminated manuscripts, pictorial art, and architecture. Thus, this course on Christian martyrdom incorporates images, material culture, and texts to broaden the access to the history and experience of martyrdom. The course offers the collaboration of the visual arts, including manuscript illuminations, martyria, and written texts to expand our understanding of martyrdom as it unfolds in different periods in history.  Martyrologies highlight the intersection between humanity at its best and worst. It provides insights into the depths of human existence. Martyrologies encapsulate truths about what it means to be fully human. This course covers the historical, cultural, and theological contexts of Christian martyrdom, including the motivations of both martyrs and their oppressors as depicted in text and in image. It explores the role of martyrdom in shaping Christian identity, particularly, Armenian Christianity, and the development of the universal church in Armenia. Students will study the testimony, writings, and illuminations of key martyrs and martyrdoms and analyze the theological and ethical issues surrounding their witness. The course also examines the continuing legacy of Christian martyrdom in contemporary society as observed in modern texts, images, and media, and its impact on the church, global Christianity, and the wider world.

Course Aim: By the end of the course, students should have a broad understanding of the history of martyrdom, in particular Armenian martyrs (but not only), and the ability to identify characteristics and elements of the martyr figure in different contexts and the forces behind the character of the martyr figure. Since this course incorporates images, illuminations, and the physical structures of martyria, students ought to display understanding of architectural designs and illumination patterns in the arts as ways of communicating deeper truths about the events surrounding the martyrdoms and the development of thought in each era on how Christians depicted the hero figure in their context.