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.

Cornelia Horn, Robert R. Phenix Jr 

Sources on Georgians in the Holy Land: 

The Publication of the Syriac Life of Peter the Iberian in English Translation


The main part of the book features the ancient biography of the Georgian hero Peter the Iberian, who was born in 413 or 417 CE into the royal family of the Iberian kingdom in the region that is now the eastern part of Georgia. Over the course of his life, Peter distinguished himself as a pilgrim, monk, bishop, and leader of anti-Chalcedonian Christians in Palestine.

The Syriac Life of Peter the Iberian tells of Peter’s roots in a pious Christian family in Georgia, his years of childhood and adolescence with travels from Georgia to the court in Constantinople, and of his travels from the Byzantine capital to Jerusalem, Egypt, and throughout Syria-Palestine. Various events of the mature years of his life in Syria-Palestine and Egypt included a range of miracles and encounters with holy men and women as well as with a wide cross section of the population in the territory of modern Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. The ascetic struggle to leave behind the world and its attachments is expressed in one of the major themes of Peter’s biography: the desire to withdraw and separate from the responsibilities and entanglements of political and ecclesiastical affairs.Through this hagio-biography we come to know Peter as one who is on a perpetual journey, even an escape, first from the court of Theodosius II in Constantinople to Jerusalem, then from the busy, urban life in Jerusalem to the more remote regions of Gaza in order to avoid the influence of Empress Eudocia and any of her potential requests,but also from his impending ordination to become the bishop of Maiuma– this even to the brink of suicide and refusing to officiate at the Eucharistic celebration until the members of his congregation in Maiuma threaten to set him on fire. This flight from the world and its burdens is complementary to Peter’s existence as a pilgrim and life-long wanderer. His ascetic community-in-the-making experienced with him the relief and support that the hospitality of strangers provided for those who were at the margins of political power and who experienced themselves as being caught on the opposing side in the fluctuations of imperial church policy.

This volume concludes with one shorter text that tells the story of two figures who were key supporters of the anti-Chalcedonian movement in Byzantine Palestine. That text is an account of the martyrdom of the first anti-Chalcedonian bishop of Jerusalem, Theodosius, and includes the story of Romanus, who bears the epithet “father of the monks.” According to their original conception, the Life of Peter the Iberian and the complete narrative concerning Theodosius’ death and the story of the monk Romanus belonged to a single work.

John Rufus composed the Life of Peter the Iberian in Greek, but only the Syriac version of this hagio-biography survives. Rufus was a contemporary of Peter and his circle. It is unfortunate that little information about Rufus has come down to us. Next to the Life of Peter the Iberian, Rufus is probably also the author of a slightly later composition, entitled Plerophoriae, a collection of short, apophthegmata-like stories that feature Peter the Iberian and figures of the anti-Chalcedonian milieu in Palestine and beyond. Many of these stories emphasize visionary and miraculous aspects of the anti-Chalcedonian struggle in the fifth century. A publication of the re-edited Syriac text with an annotated English translation of that work is in preparation by Horn and Phenix.

The introduction to the Syriac Life of Peter the Iberian orients the reader to the relevant political and religious contexts of Peter’s life and his role in the Christological controversies. It begins with a presentation of fourth- through early sixth-century Georgia, followed by discussions of the main ideas and developments of the Christological controversies and their context in Palestine in the fifth century, of the main players and centers of asceticism and the monastic life in Palestine, of the genre and the rhetorical structure of the work, and of the manuscript basis in which the edition is grounded.

This volume adds to the growing collection of scholarly and non-specialist literature on monasticism in Palestine in the ancient world. This first published English translation of the Syriac Life of Peter the Iberian is an important source of information concerning late antique Palestine and its growth as the Christian Holy Land. For Georgian literature and history this account is of remarkable value, a primary source that sets into context the data from inscriptions, hagiography, and historical sources on relations between Georgia and Byzantine Palestine.

Peter the Iberian and his followers saw themselves as representatives of orthodox Christianity. Their Christianity is above all a conservative one, on the one hand refusing the innovative formulas of both the Council of Chalcedon and other diophysite understandings of Jesus Christ, but on the other hand also rejecting any attempt to define what the “one nature” of the incarnate Word of God might be, as in the monophysite definitions ascribed to Eutyches or later on to Julian of Halicarnassus. This negative approach suggests that those who disagreed with developments in language about Jesus Christ associated with the Council of Chalcedon in Palestine could not easily be placed into a limited camp of specific doctrinal commitments and adherences. This indicates, moreover, that the story of how the doctrine shaped monastic communal identity in the fifth and sixth centuries in Syria-Palestine and beyond may have been far richer than often assumed. This volume makes the Syriac Life of Peter the Iberian accessible to a wider audience, which is a fundamental step towards the proper evaluation of Peter the Iberian and his milieu.

The Syriac Life emphasizes Peter’s anti-Chalcedonian commitments and strong affiliation, whereas the Georgian Life of Peter the Iberian features him as a representative of Chalcedonian Christianity. The careful study of the points of difference and congruence between these two sources for the life of one of Georgia’s most important ancient pilgrims to the Holy Land remains an important task of research.