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Van Elverdinghe, Emmanuel ORCID: 0000-0002-8613-7491 (25. February 2022): Bishops as Cultural Mediators in Medieval Armenia. Their Role in the Production and Circulation of Manuscripts. Bishops: Leaders and Ministers, Judges and Diplomats, Scholars and Saints. Variations on a Global Institution in the Middle Ages, 24. - 25. Februar 2022, Frankfurt am Main.
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Abstract

In addition to their liturgical duties and their role as community leaders, Armenian bishops were deeply involved in the preservation, transmission and development of the national culture. Organizing the production and consumption of books was a prominent aspect of this activity: bishops would regularly sponsor or copy new manuscripts, as well as disseminate or centralize existing ones, order restoration work on older volumes, negotiate the return of plundered items, etc. Much valuable information on this topic can be drawn from the testimony of the manuscripts themselves, via scribal colophons and other notes left by readers, owners, and restorers. Episcopal involvement also meant leveraging networks of clerics, intellectuals, and artists. A prime example is John the King’s Brother (Yovhannēs Arkʻaełbayr, ca. 1237-1289), abbot of Gṙner in Cilicia, who, during his thirty years of episcopacy, worked tirelessly to enrich the library of his monastery. It is fair to say that bishops with John’s means and talent were the exception; many, however, were just as dedicated and well connected.