And the Armenian-Byzantine church confrontation at the end of the 10th century


Vardan A. Aleksanyan
In the last quarter of the 10th century Armenia took the path of political, economic and cultural development. Constructive relations were created between the political and religious authorities of Armenia. The Armenian Church contributed to the efforts of the Bagratids to strengthen the state.

Having ascended the Patriarchal throne, Khachik I Arsharuni (973-992) overcame the bifurcation of spiritual power and unified the Armenian clergy around the Catholicosate. He undertook construction activities, improved the spiritual center of Armenia – Argina. Khachik Arsharuni created new dioceses and episcopal thrones in Nakhijevan and Tashirk. The foundation of new dioceses strengthened and expanded the spiritual borders of Armenia. Due to the increase of the Armenian population in Northern Syria, Cilicia and Cappadocia, it became necessary to establish episcopal thrones, which were designed to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Armenians living there. By creating dioceses outside the borders of Armenia, Catholicos Khachik Arsharuni promoted the unification of Armenians and prevented the assimilation of Armenians in a foreign ethnic environment. The expansion of thegeography of the Armenian Church contributed to the growth of a sense of national identity, the immunity against encroachments on the Armenian national identity strengthened.

At the end of the 10th century Byzantine expansionary policy aimed at the assimilation of Armenians intensified. The Armenian population was subjected to violence by the Greek clergy of Sebastia and Melitina, which forced the Armenians to adopt the Greek faith. Under Khachik, Armenian-Greek religious correspondence and theological polemic resumed. In their letters, the metropolitans of Sebastia and Melitina urged the Armenian clergy to accept Chalcedonism. Referring to the teachings of the fathers of the Universal Church and the position of the first three ecumenical councils, the Armenian scholars in their letters thoroughly refuted the principles of the Greek belief and justified the correctness of the Armenian Monophysite faith. In the letters which were saved in the composition of the medieval Armenian historian Asoghik and in the Book of Letters, the Armenian clergy manifested a single unyielding position. The Armenian clergy were more indomitable against Byzantine challenges than the political authorities.