The Kartvelologist

The Kartvelologist” is a bilingual (Georgian and English) peer-reviewed, academic journal, covering all spheres of Kartvelological scholarship. Along with introducing scholarly novelties in Georgian Studies, it aims at popularization of essays of Georgian researchers on the international level and diffusion of foreign Kartvelological scholarship in Georgian scholarly circles.

“The Kartvelologist” issues both in printed and electronic form. In 1993-2009 it came out only in printed form (#1-15). The publisher is the “Centre for Kartvelian Studies” (TSU), financially supported by the “Fund of the Kartvelological School”. In 2011-2013 the journal is financed by Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation.


New Russian Translation of  “The Life of Grigol Khandzteli”


In autumn of 1902 a half-destroyed 12th-century manuscript was discovered in the library of the Monastery of the Cross of Jerusalem. In “Georgian Mravaltavi” (N2) preserved in the vault the members of the scholarly expedition were able to detect a hitherto unknown text called The Life of St. Gregory of Khandzta (“Works and Labors from the Worthy Life of Our Holy and Blessed Father Archimandrite Gregory, Builder of Khandzta and Shatberdi and a Remembrance of the Many Blessed fathers Who Were with him”) [7].

The manuscript was first seen by Niko Chubinishvili in 1845. Later, the notes assembled by him were published by Aleqsandre Tsagareli in 1894 (Сведения, III, pp. 49-50) [20, 98], however the story was introduced to the reader only in 1911 after Nicholas Marr published Georgian and Russian texts in his series of publication “Тексты и разыскания по армяно-грузинской филологии” [4]. It is certain that the works as well as the story about the flourishing era for Tao-Klarjeti had been unknown.

The fact that the works had been unknown before is proved through the words uttered by Platon Ioselian in 1853, the author of “The history of Georgian Church” saying he was not aware of the saint whose name is commemorated by Georgian the Church in the 5th of October. He said, “I was able to find the name of Grigol Khanzokhat living in 1411 solely in Armenian chronicles”.

Regarding the fact ten centuries had passed after Grigol Khandzteli, no wonder the fact was unknown to him. In the 10th century, the followers still lived in the monastery and even Giorgi Merchule himself would complain by saying „Now instead, their wonders have been long forgotten from much time having passed“ [14, p. 249].

The first editor of The Life of Grigol Khandzteli accom­­panied his story with an entire volume of Russian trans­lations along with researches and the diary about the journey in Tao-Klarjeti and Shavsheti.

It was the start of the Giorgi Merchule’s story narrated in a foreign language. Very soon, 1917-1919 the Latin trans­lation of the Life of Grigol Khandzteli performed by Paul Peeters was translated and in 1922-1923 along wih the books about The Life of John and Euthemeous, Giorgi Mtatsmindeli and Serapion Zarzmeli was published in 36-37th volumes (Vie de St. Gregoire de Khandztha (pp. 207-309);

Later, in 1956, „Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints“, by David Marshall Lang with English Translation of The Life of Grigol Khandzteli performed by Lang was published. (“The Life of St. Gregory of Khandzta”, in the book: Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, London 1956, pp. 155-65); in 2015 an American scholar of Norwegian origin Theophane-Erik Halvorson introduced a totally new English translation of The Life accompanied with the pictures captur­ed in Nikozi. And in the December of 1999 the 42nd  edition of Russian Journal Symbol located in Paris published new Russian translations of The Life of Grigol Khandzteli [9, pp. 245-341]. In 2008 Moscow publishing house CRITERIUM re-edited the masterpieces of Georgian Hagiog­raphy with Ioseb Zeteishvilis revision in the series named „mother of the Saints”. The present work is derdicated to this work of Archpriest Ioseb Zeteishvili.

As already noted above the translation by the deacon Ioseb Zeteshvili was first published in the journal “Symbol”. The journal was founded in 1979 by Paris Slavic Library to promote Western-Eastern artistic dialogue (source: and it published a lot of philosophical, Christianity and artistic works of many authors including the best literary works of old Georgian literature such as, Tbel Abuseride’s “Miracles of St. George” (№32), Giorgi the Athonite’s The Life of Our Fathers John and Euthymius (№34-35), Giorgi Mtsire’s The Life and Acts of our Holy and Blessed Father, Georgie the Athonite (№38), unknown author’s The Martyrdom of St. Eustace of Mtskheta (№44), Ioane Sabanisdze The Martyrdom of St. Abo Tbileli (№44), Iakob Tsurtaveli The Passion of St. Shushanik (№45), David Aghmashenebeli’s The Prayers of Remorse (№41), The Georgian Chronicle, the Period of Giorgi Lasha (№46-47), The Life of the King of Kings David (№40), abovementioned The Life of Grigol Khandzteli, and Hymn of the Living Pillar.

Some articles preceding each translation of the story are also presented. The author of the new Russian translations is a Georgian Deacon Joseph Zeteishvili, living and working in Latvia. He was the leader and the member of the council of Visaginas temple of the Virgin and Panteleimon, located in the North-East of Latvia.

The first edition of the new Russian translation of The Life of Grigol Khandzteli is preceded by inspiring words of the author under the name “About the Life of Grigol Khandzteli” (“О Житии Григола Хандзтели”) [4, pp. 48-50]. This version is titled as „the builders of the God’s city” in the rendered edition. The author talks about the importance of the literary work, its history and expresses wishes to represent the life of the saint as the most prominent episode in the history of the Georgian Court.

Maka Elbakidze’s version of the translation of the letter was published in 2001 in the journal The Kartve­lologist, edition 8. Joseph Zetiashvili notes that by creating the book about the great priest, the author was able to save his name from being lost. While by publishing the story at the beginning of the century Nicholas Marr was able not only to emphasize the merit of Grigol Khandzteli and his followers but also to reveal spiritual, political, national and cultural basis for the prosperity of the country of the 7-12th century. this work turned out to be a rich compilation of images, signi­ficant facts and an insght into ascetic life [6, p. 249]. The translator refers to the Klarjeti deserts and the monastery complexes as Georgian Atlantida. But first of all it should be noted that in 1902 a brilliant work of Georgian spiritual writing was discovered. Several epithets such as “a person of delicate and gentle taste, the most prominent poet, a genuine artist, a flawless writer”, were used by Ivane Javakhishvili to describe Giorgi Merchule. Simple and clear style of writing imbued with honourable accent creates the impression of poetic narration; we can easily call it hagiographic, historical or even eloquent work the style incessantly enchanting the reader,” - says Pavle Ingorokva, [5, pp. 152-153].

We are fully aware of the fact that there are two opposite views about the literary translation: one, accurate with lack of artistic approach and the other one is artistically strong, however, diverted from the main path of the content of the origin. Theoretically the syntheses of these two views and assuming the most accurate and artistically strong work as one of the best is very easy, however, practically fulfilling this task is almost impossible. The main aim of the translators is to create so-called identical translation revealing its real values to the readers. However, it should be noted that two totally different languages employ radically different instruments of expressing ideas which is the reason why the literal translation of the word fails to have the same artistic impact on the reader. [2, p. 80]. Talking about the translation of The Life of Gregory of Khandzta we would definitely like to be sure the effect will be the same as that of the origin.

The first obvious difference between these two translations of The Life is the literary style. Nicholas Marr narrates the story in Russian literary language characteristic to the end of the 19th century. The main purpose of inserting the Russian translation of the text in its first edition was to make the text available for non-Georgian readers rather than fully following its original version.

N. Marr notes that there is no way to copy the lexical essence in full due to the influence of Iranian, Armenian and Byzantine languages. [4, LV]. Along with old Armenian influence (the form of the name Abraham, some Armenian words) a lot of Iranian words are also detected. There are several cases when Greek forms are used for the Biblical terms.

These challenging combinations of the words have created a lot of obstacles for the translators. In order to reveal their attitude towards these obstacles and the parallelisms in the translation, I would like to introduce some examples. These are the cases demonstrating the terms with the same meaning old and new, Georgian and Persian, Georgian and Greek words are juxtaposed.


1. ყრმისა და ჭაბუკისა (XXIII, 27)

  • о достойном юноше Ефреме. (23, 27, p. 104) - თარგმნის ნ. მარი და სინონიმების ერთ შესატყვისს იძლევა.
  • о преподобном отроке и юноше Ефреме [გვ. 275] - აზუსტებს იოსებ ზეთეიშვილი.


 2. შორისწმიდათაშენთამარტჳლთადამოწამეთა (X, 27)

  • среди твоих мученников (94)
  • среди твоих свидетелей и мученников (265)


In this case the parallelism is created through loan words from Greek and its corresponding meaning from Georgian. As we already know, a Greek word martyre means a witness, giving a rise to the Georgian Word Motsame 17] ”in Russian it sounds like мученник [16, 326]. A word martvilta has been translated following its original Greek meaning by Zeteishvili. A Russian word свидетель also follows the parallelism from the origin. Both translations are accompanied by the list of Georgian names mentioned in the story along with Russian equivallents: Анатолэ - Анатолия, Теместия - Феместия, Иованэ - Иоанн, Габриэл - Гавриил, Теодорэ - Феодор, Саба - Савва, Григол - Григорий, Христофорэ - Христофор, Эпофа­нэ - Епифаний, etc. J. Zeteishvili provides only the names of the people (27 in total) [6, p. 252], N. Marr gives Geogra­phical names as well [4, p. 206]; he gives his preference to Russian equivallents while Zeteishvili prefers the version resembling the Georgian sounding of a word.

The first publication of the Russian translation of The Life of Grigol Khandzteli by Zeteishvili is accompanied by the author’s comments, 285 in total [6, pp. 325-334] mostly related with translational activities. In some cases, the author introduces a translation of a single phrase, sentence or a word by N. Marr enabling us to place the new and the old passages in juxtaposition with each other. Whenever the literal translation of the text seems to be impossible, Zeteishvili introduces some comments containing the literal translations without giving any explanation why he gave his preference to them rather than the ones given in the text (comments: 50, 67, 70, 90, 91, 281). He leaves analyses to the reader. Some of the comments concern the titles. J. Zeteishvili provides their translation accompanied with their Georgian corresponding words with Latin transcription. For example, the word nobleman is represented as дворянин (279) and вельможа (50) as well. Eristavt-eristavi is translated as княз-князей (281). The relevant comments are as follows: eris-mthavari (n. 61), aznauri (n. 46), eristhavth-eristhavi (n. 136, 245) etc.

N. Marr avoids translating names of civil servants. The text says: азнауры (XXVII Chapter, 9-10 verse., pp. 108; XXVIII chapter, 49, 116; LXII Chapter, 4, 134; LXXXIII Chapter, 13, 149), мтавар (X, 38, pp 95), мампал (XLII, 14, pp. 119), эрис-тавомь эрис-тавовъ (XXVIII, 38; LXXXIII, 7, 148), эрис-мтаварь (XI, 6, 95). In order to enable Russian readers to understand, N. Marr provides the translation with a dictionary [4, pp. LXIII].

In the work of Nicholas Marr the difference between the origin and the translated version in terms of dividing the text by verses is minimal. As for Zeteishvili, he avoides dividing the story in verses. The chapters in both versions are distributed according to that of Georgian.

J. Zeteishvili accompanies the translation with the same type of comments amounting to 40. Clearly his trans­lation tends to be more accurate and coherent. It should be mentioned that we find more differences between these two texts such as parallelisms, proper names etc. Regarding the fact Zeteishvili tends to follow the grammatical and stylistic norms typical to that of old Slavic and Russian language, N. Marr prefers to write meeting the norms of 19th century literary Russian suggesting the narration style typical to other translators. Then, raises a question, what was the reason he highlighted approximately 40 sections with comments? Based on the example provided, Georgian passages included in the comments called for more interpretation. Pointing to the rele­vant passages, the author of the new translation enables us to clearly see that Zeteishvili approaches the nuances and details in a totally different way as opposed to N. Marr.



1. The Bible. Books of Old and New Testaments, canonical in Russian translation with parallel texts, London 1989 / Библия – книги священного писания Ветхого и Нового Завета, канонические в русском переводе с параллельными местами, Лондон 1989

2. Gachechiladze G., Issues on Translation Theory, Tb. 1959 / გაჩე­ჩილაძე გ., მხატვრული თარგმანის თეორიის საკითხები, თბ. 1959

3. Kekelidze K., The History of Georgian Literature, vol. I, Tb. 1960 / კე­კე­ლიძე კ., ქართული ლიტერატურის ისტორია, ტ. 1, თბ. 1960

4. Marr N., Texts and Researches in Armenian-Georgian Philology, vol. VII, 1911 / Марр Н., Тексты и разыскания по армяно-грузинской филологии, т. VII, Санкт-Петербург 1911

5. Merchule Giorgi, The Life of Grigol Khandzteli. (Original was restored by Pavle Ingoroqva), vol. I, Tb. 1949 / მერჩულე გიორგი, ცხოვ­რება გრიგოლ ხანძთელისა და მოყუასთა და მოწაფეთა მისთა, დედანი აღადგინა და გამოკ­ვლევა დაურთო პავლე ინგო­როყვამ, წ. I, თბ. 1949

6. Merchule Giorgi, Russian translation of ThelifeofGrigolKhandzteli by I. Zeteishvili, Journal “The Symbol”, Paris 1999 / Мерчул (Законник) Георгий, Труд и подвижничество дос­той­ного жития святого и блаженного отца нашего Григола, архимандрита Хандзтийского Шатбердского строи­теля, и с ним поминовения многих отцов блаженных (на русском языке), журн. «Символ» №42, автор перевода прот. Иосиф Зетеиш­вили, Париж 1999

7. Siradze R., Issues of theoretical-literary thinking of Old Georgian Literature, Tb. 1975 / სირაძე რ., ძველი ქართული თეორიულ-ლი­ტე­რატურული აზროვნების საკითხები, თბ. 1975

8. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, GeorgianDictionary, I (prepared by I. Abuladze), Tb. 1991 / სულხან-საბა ორბელიანი, ლექსიკონი ქარ­თუ­ლი, I, ავტო­ბი­ოგრაფიული ნუსხების მიხედვით მოამზადა, გა­მოკ­ვლე­ვა დაურთო და განმარტებითი ლექსიკის საძიებელი და­ურ­თო ილია აბულაძემ, თბ. 1991

9. Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, GeorgianDictionary, II (prepared by I. Abuladze), Tb. 1991 / სულხან-საბა ორბელიანი, ლექსიკონიქარ­თუ­­ლი, II, თბ. 1991

10. Fanjikidze D., TranslationTheoryandPractice, Tb. 1988 / ფან­ჯი­კიძე დ., თარგმანის თეორია და პრაქტიკა, თბ. 1988

11. Shanidze A., Collected Works in 12 volumes, III, Fundamentals of the Grammar of the Georgian Language, Tb. 1980 / შანიძე ა., თხზულებანი თორმეტ ტომად, III, ქართული ენის გრამატიკის სა­ფუძვლები, თბ. 1980

14. Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature (V-X cc.), vol. I, Tb. 1963 / ძველი ქართული აგიოგრა­ფიული ლიტე­რა­ტუ­რის ძეგლები (V-Xსს.), წიგნი I, კ. კეკელიძის სახელობის ხელ­ნა­წერ­თა ინსტიტუტი დასაბეჭდად მოამზადეს ი. აბულაძემ, ნ. ათა­ნე­­ლიშვილმა, ნ. გოგუაძემ, ლ. ქაჯაიამ, ც. ქურციკიძემ, ც. ჯან­კი­ევმა და ც. ჟღამაიამ, ილია აბულაძის ხელმძღვანელობით და რე­­დაქ­ციით, თბ. 1963

12. The Works on Old GeorgianLanguage, vol. 18, Tb. 1976 / ძვე­ლი ქართული ენის კათედრის შრომები, ტ. 18, ძველი ქართული ენ­ის გრამატიკა, თბ. 1976

13. The Dictionary of Old Georgian Language (by Zurab Sarjveladze), Tb. 1995 / ძველი ქართული ენის ლექსიკონი (მასა­ლები), შემდგენელი ზურაბ სარჯველაძე, თბ. 1995

14. The Chrestomathy of Old Georgian Literature (by S. Kubaneishvili), TSU Press, Tb. 1946 / ძველი ქართული ლიტერა­ტუ­­რის ქრესტომათია, I, შემდგე­ნე­ლი სოლომონ ყუბანეიშვილი, თსუ-ს გამომცემლობა, თბ. 1946

15. OldGeorgian-RussianDictionary (by B. Serebriakov) , Tb. 1962 / ძველ­ქართულ-რუსული ლექსიკონი (ოთხთავის ორი ძვე­ლი რე­დაქ­ციის მიხედვით), შეადგინა ს. ბ. სერებ­რიაკოვმა, თბ. 1962

16. Histoires monastiques géorgiennes / Paul Peeters S. I. - Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 1923. - pp. [5] - 317

17. Giorgi Merchule, The Life of Grigol Khandzteli. Publishing House CRITERIUM, Moscow 2008 / Преп. Гиорги Мерчулэ, Житие Святого Григола Хандзте­ли, Серия "Матерь Святых", изд. CRITERIUM, Москва 2008.