I. Some random comments on interesting quotes:
"hey i'm new here and was wondering if there are any armenians here, i did come across a few armenian names.
i got attracted to the orthodox church not too long ago and discovered what a great treasure it is, and was wondering if you people know what i'm talking about, or if there's anyone out there who can relate... peace"
reply: Djrak, I know exactly what you mean. The Orthodox Church is certainly a "pearl of great price." I too am Armenian.
"On the surface, the Armenian Church can look like an ethnic club (some people would like to turn it into that.) But when you really get involved, study the beliefs and immerse yourself in the badarak, you find a deep well of spirituality which doesn't exist in any form of Protestantism."
reply: Well put sister Salpy! You hit the nail right on the head. Thank you to both Salpy and Drjak for the kind words about the site. Glad you found it useful.
"The Council of Dvin was called as a reaction to the fact that the Persian (Assyrian) Church, which had long held the christology of Theodore of Mopsuestia, had embraced Chalcedon and the tome of Leo as vindicating their position. The Armenian Church had remained faithful to the christology of Alexandria and had accepted the Third Council, while the Persian Church had rejected it. The Council of Dvin, in 506, anathematized both Nestorius (whom the Persian Church had embraced) and Eutyches, to show that they were not embracing the heresy of the latter."
reply: This is a very important point, Salpy. Many see the Seven Councils as a unity. But this is in hindsight. At the time of the Councils, the fourth was seen by many as a defense of those who had doubts and reservations about the third. But hopefully this is all water under the bridge now. Our theologians on both sides have affirmed our common Christological faith both with the Greeks and the Latins. That's good enough for me.
I also noticed that the music (before Komitas or anyone else harmonized it) had the drone/bass like the Greek Byzantine chanting."
reply: Gomidas' arrangement of the Divine Liturgy, I'm told by an expert on Armenian Liturgy is much closer to the Traditional form of the Badarak than is Egmalian's who used much more Western influence (e.g. four part harmony et al).
II. On the Armenian Church use of Iconography
"In some of the old churches, you'll see that the images are in an old, traditional style very similar to what you see in Greek icons. During the 1700's, it became popular to imitate the naturalistic style of the western Europeans, and that eventually became the prevalent form of images to be seen in Armenian churches, especially in the diaspora after the Genocide. I think there is a movement now toward bringing back the old style and I think that is a good thing. I have heard there are schools of iconography now in Yerevan where they teach the traditional style to young people and it is becoming increasingly popular to put the traditional images in the churches over there. I think the Armenians have always had a stronger veneration for the Holy Cross than for holy pictures and our theology regarding images never became as developed or formalized as that of the Greeks. Still, holy pictures have always been in Armenian churches and people have always been free to worship Christ or venerate His saints through them. As you said, people kiss and touch them. The deacons, as they cense the church, also make a point of censing the holy pictures. -Salpy "
reply: Very good points!
"What I found interesting was that there are no icons except 1 of the Virgin Mary at the altar. Also, the altar girls or 'tubirs' are a really nice touch. Correct me if I'm wrong but they can serve at the altar until they reach puberty, correct?" -Timos
reply: Dear Timos,
You are correct that many Armenian Churches are more conservative in their use of Iconography. It is important for us all to remember that the word Icon means "Image." The Armenian Church certainly does employ Holy Images in their Churches and in their Worship. The Armenian word "Surpabadger" litterally connotes "Holy Image." The Armenian Church was one of the first to have to do battle with the Iconoclasts and indeed ultimately affirmed the Orthodoxy of Images and their veneration. Our Church fully concurs with the decisions of the Council of Nicea II (counted as the VIIth Ecumenical Council by the West). In fact the oldest written defense of the use Icons was by an Armenian writer. It can be found on-line at http://www.geocities.com/derghazar/symbol.html
Another important point is that although our Iconography is usually not on wood but rather painted on walls as frescoes, or in the style of Mosaics, or in our Sacred Books as "Miniatures" it is important to recognize one thing about them: the far majority of them follow the identical theological themes and canonical patterns common to all Eastern Iconography. Thus you can find identical Armenian Icons of everything from the Transfiguration of our Lord, to the Translation of the Mother of God into Paradise, to the Harrowing of Hell, etc. This is just a manifestation of the fact that we share the same basic Orthodox faith with all of our Eastern brethren.
As for girls as tubirs, I think this is problematic for several reasons which I won't delve into now.