St. Gregory of Narek holds a distinctive place in the Armenian Church by virtue of his prayer book, “The Book of Tragedy,” and hymnic odes, among other works. His writings are equally prized as literary masterpieces. The saint was named Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015, which helped create new attention in the West around him. With this meticulous translation of the prayers into English, St. Gregory of Narek enters another millennium of wonderment, now in a wider circle.
In his preface, Dr. Abraham Terian writes:
“Much has been written about Gregory’s highly complex yet rhythmically gripping language. Rendering his prayer book literally and coherently, with as little loss of the original beauty as possible, has been challenging. The text is not incomprehensible, and it is not difficult to follow. Complexities are exegetically and theologically explicable and the syntactical difficulties are grammatically soluble. Of course, these are relative statements. For one who has spent decades with the most difficult texts in Classical Armenian, especially those attributed to the Hellenizing School of translators and authors of the sixth through the eighth centuries, these prayers offer a heavenly respite in every sense of the word. Given this lifetime of preparation, I here offer the English reader what Gregory offered to Christ, his best—albeit with the inevitable loss of his enthralling language.”