[lg policy] Georgian alphabet created by St. Mesrob Mashtots in early 5th century (?)

r.amirejibi-mullen at QMUL.AC.UK r.amirejibi-mullen at QMUL.AC.UK
Fri Jun 10 17:49:59 UTC 2011

Most non-Georgian, as well as some Georgian, scholars support the view  
that the Georgian alphabet was created after the spread of  
Christianity in the fourth century in order to translate essential  
Christian texts. Pre-Christian inscriptions in Georgia are written in  
Aramaic and Greek scripts. The oldest inscriptions in the Georgian  
alphabet date back to the 430s AD and are found near Bethlehem in  
Palestine.  The oldest Georgian manuscripts also date from the fifth  

There is no strong evidence that Parnavaz created the Alphabet we use  
now. I think it just a myth created in the 10th c. for ideological  
reasons. However there is strong evidence that Masrop did not create it.

Please see:

1) Gamkrelidze, Thomas. (1994). Alphabetic Writing and the Old  
Georgian Script. A Typology and Provenience of Alphabetic Writing  
Systems (Anatolian and Caucasian Studies). New York: Caravan Books.

2) Boeder, Winfried. (1975). Zur Analyze des altgeorgishen Alphabets.  
In Gerhardt, D; Hill, P; Kratzel, G (eds.). Forschung und Lehre.   
Hamburg: Slavisches Seminar, pp. 17-34.

3) Kemertelidze, Nino. (1999).  Theories on the origin of kartuli  
(Georgian) writing (alphabet). In Cram David, Linn Andrew Robert &  
Nowak Elke (eds.), History of Linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins  
Publishing Company. pp. 227-234.

Quoting Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com>:

> Lenore A. Grenoble. Language policy in the Soviet Union. Springer,
> 2003. ISBN 1402012985. P. 116.
> "The creation of the Georgian alphabet is generally attributed to
> Mesrop, who is also credited with the creation of the Armenian
> alphabet."
> 4 a b c Donald Rayfield "The Literature of Georgia: A History
> (Caucasus World). RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0700711635. P. 19.
> 5 Catholic Encyclopedia. Mesrob.
> 6 Britannica. Alphabet. "The Armenian and Georgian alphabets, created
> by St. Mesrob Mashtots in the early 5th century [AD], were also based
> on the Aramaic alphabet."
> 7 Glen Warren Bowersock, Peter Robert Lamont Brown, Oleg Grabar. Late
> antiquity: a guide to the postclassical world. Harvard University
> Press, 1999. ISBN 0674511735. P. 289. James R. Russell. Alphabets. "
> Mastoc' was a charismatic visionary who accomplished his task at a
> time when Armenia stood in danger of losing both its national
> identity, through partition, and its newly acquired Christian faith,
> through Sassanian pressure and reversion to paganism. By preaching in
> Armenian, he was able to undermine and co-opt the discourse founded in
> native tradition, and to create a counterweight against both Byzantine
> and Syriac cultural hegemony in the church. Mastoc' also created the
> Georgian and Caucasian-Albanian alphabets, based on the Armenian
> model."
> 8 George L. Campbell. Compendium of the World's Languages. --
> Routledge; New edition edition (May 14, 1998) -- ISBN 0415160499. P.
> 183. "Old Georgian was written in the xucuri character, traditionally
> invented by Mesrop Mashtots, to whom the Armenians owe their script."
> 9 Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam-Webster, 1995.
> ISBN 0877790426. P. 756. "Mesrob". "A collection of biblical
> commentaries, translations of patristic works, and liturgical prayers
> and hymns is credited to Mesrob, corroborating his reputation for
> having laid the foundation of a national Armenian liturgy. He is also
> credited with contributing to the origin of the Georgian alphabet."
> 10 Russian: <<История Востока>>, ЗАКАВКАЗЬЕ В IV--XI вв -- Институт
> Востоковедения РАН. "Христианизация закавказских стран имела важные
> последствия и для развития местной культуры. На рубеже IV-V вв.
> появилась армянская письменность, созданная Месропом Маштоцем. Не без
> его помощи были изобретены и национальные алфавиты в Грузии и Албании.
> "
> 11 Peter R. Ackroyd, C. F. Evans, Geoffrey William Hugo Lampe, Stanley
> Lawrence Greenslade. The Cambridge History of the Bible: From the
> Beginnings to Jerome -- Cambridge University Press, 1975 -- ISBN
> 0521099730. P. 367. "Georgia was converted during the 4th century,
> tradition has it by the agency of an Armenian slave woman, and whether
> these details are in any measure true or not, the tradition probably
> indicates the source of the Georgians' knowledge of Christianity and
> the Christian scriptures. These did not begin to be translated into
> Georgian until Mesrop, provider of an Armenian alphabet, also supplied
> the Georgians with an adequate means of transcription for their
> speech."
> 18 a b Stephen H. Rapp. Studies in medieval Georgian historiography:
> early texts and Eurasian contexts. Peeters Publishers, 2003. ISBN
> 9042913185. P. 19. "Moreover, all surviving MSS written in Georgian
> postdate K'art'li's 4th-century conversion to Christianity. Not a
> shred of dated evidence has come to light confirming the invention of
> a Georgian alphabet by King P'arnavaz in the 3rd century ВС as is
> fabulously attested in the first text of K'C'...
> 19 Russian: В. А. Шнирельман, <<Войны памяти. Мифы, идентичность и
> политика в Закавказье>>, М., ИКЦ, <<Академкнига>>, 2003. English: V. A.
> Shnirelman. The value of the past. Myths, identity and politics in
> Transcaucasia. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology (Senri Ethnological
> Studies No. 57), 2001. Page 392
> http://517design.livejournal.com
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