Dr. Ervine Lectures at Conference in Armenia
On October 23-24, 2019, the world-renowned Matenadaran, the Mesrop Mashdots Library of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, hosted the fifth annual Narekatsi Readings, an international scholarly conference devoted to exploring various aspects of the life and works of Armenia’s great tenth-century mystic monastic saint, poet and vardapet, Gregory of Narek.
This year’s conference, which opened with the reading of a blessing from His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, included speakers from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Matenadaran, Yerevan State University, Charles University (Prague) and St. Nersess Armenian Seminary (New York).
Dr. Roberta Ervine, Professor of Armenian Studies at St. Nersess, presented a lecture entitled “Love and Holiness: The Song of Songs in Gregory of Narek’s Book of Prayers”. She discussed the use of quotations from the Song of Songs in the prayers, illustrating how Gregory’s early commentary on the Song of Songs provides a key to higher levels of understanding the intimate relationship between love and holiness in the prayers.
In addition to the scholarly papers, members of the Matenadaran’s preservation department gave an illustrated talk on the five-year restoration process of the great 13-14th century theologian Mkhit‘ar Sasnets‘i’s copy of Gregory’s Book of Prayers. The recent appearance of Matenadaran scholar Aruseak T‘amrazyan’s volume The Commentary on Job 38-39 Attributed to Gregory of Narek, was also celebrated.
Dr. Ervine has remained in Armenia for the month of November, teaching informally and pursuing research regarding Vartan the Great’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, several choice copies of which are housed in the Matenadaran collection.