Georgian Version

The Georgians (called “Iberians” in antiquity) of the Caucasus were converted in the fourth century. Closely linked with Armenia at first, they at length separated in a.d. 608/9, adhering to the Chalcedonian orthodoxy of the Greek Church. We have evidence that at least parts of the Scriptures were known in Georgian in the fifth century, although our earliest MSS date from the sixth or seventh only. The earliest form of the gospels is known in the Adysh MS of 897, whose text shows clear signs of translation from Armenian. As with the Armenian version, this has earlier links with Syriac traditions and the Diatessaron.

Earlier fragmentary MSS in the archaic forms of Georgian known as han-meti and hae-meti contain many parts of the Old and New Testaments: where comparison is possible we find that these reveal textually a revised form, to some extent corrected to a Greek standard. In the gospels this is related to the so-called Caesarean Text* and the quotations of Origen and Eusebius. In the earliest forms of the OT, a Lucianic text is seen; some traces of the versions of Aquila and Symmachus are also known in marginal notes. In the tenth century and later, Georgian monks on Mt. Athos (Euthymius, George the Hagiorite, Ephrem Mcire) produced revised versions of various parts of the Bible upon which the editions current later depend. In the nineteenth century, however, Russian influence debased the version, which has only recently been freed from this corruption. Revelation was not translated until the tenth century, and Maccabees until the eighteenth.

M. Tarchnishvili, Geschichte der kirkchlichen georgischen Literatur (1955); L. Leloir, “(Versions) Orientales de la Bible,” Dictionnaire de la Bible, Supplement VI (1960); J.N. Birdsall, “A Georgian Palimpsest in Vienna,” Oriens Christianus 53 (1969), pp. 108-113.