Armenian: priest / teacher

sotos

Senior Member
Greek
Hello all. I want to know if there is any lingual relation between the meanings of "priest" and "teacher" in Armenian. I tried to find a clue by using online dictionaries and transliteration to latin, and I found this word that seems to have both meanings: գոյական. Does it really connect the two meanings? How about the word "Rabbi"? Is it used out of religious context? I am especially interested in old word, which may have been used in 19th century.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • AniwaR

    Senior Member
    Armenian - Armenia
    Hello! The word գոյական that you referenced simply means a noun in Armenian, and has nothing to do with either teacher or priest.

    I suppose the word you are looking for is վարդապետ (vardapet). You can read more about them here. I am not an expert on the subject and I am not sure how things were in the past, but we never call an ordinary school or university teacher vardapet nowadays. The word is still widely and actively used in the religious circles and contexts, however.

    I checked the entry րաբբի (rabbi) in the 1976 monolingual explanatory dictionary of contemporary [Eastern] Armenian (link), where it is explained as:
    1. Spiritual leader* and worship servant* in a Jewish religious community 2. figuratively a teacher
    I can recall the word rabbi only from books and contexts somehow connected with the Jewish culture indeed. The word vardapet is much more authentic to the Armenian culture, so to say.

    * - Please excuse my rough/literal translation. Since you seem to be familiar with the topic, I guess they will be helpful for you nevertheless.

    [Edit]
    My general knowledge is that in the past the Armenian education system was very closely tied to the church, and monasteries served as educational institutions as well. So, it is probably that the highly educated priests (i.e. vardapets) were also teachers as much as they were religious servants. One of the most famous vardapets is Komitas, for example, who is the most important musicologist in the Armenian history.

    In the Armenian translations relating to the Bible, such as films, for example, Jesus is also very often referred to as vardapet by the apostles, although he had no official religious rank I suppose. :) This is an example of that word used in the sense of teacher.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    sotos

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Hello! The word գոյական that you referenced simply means a noun in Armenian, and has nothing to do with either teacher or priest.
    Oops! It seems that I copy-pasted the wrong word :oops:

    Thank you for the answers, AniwaR. It was also common in old Greece (early 19th century) that a priest does some teaching as well.

    [Edit]
    Well, sorry to bother you again, but could you kindly check this 19th c. dictionary: A Dictionary English and Armenian By Father Paschal Aucher with the assistance of John Brand Esqre and the word "Teacher", at page 712. I think it gives a form of the word "vardapet". Also, the wictionary (
    vardapet - Wiktionary ) gives this meaning. So, the same word meaned "teacher" and "high priest". Right?

    Thank you again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    AniwaR

    Senior Member
    Armenian - Armenia
    Yes, the 19th c. dictionary lists vardapet/վարդապետ (in the same exact form as anywhere else) in front of the entry Teacher.

    I also checked the explanation for the word vardapet in this 1969 dictionary of contemporary [Eastern] Armenian, and in short this is what it says:

    Vardapet:
    1. celibate priest
    2. science degree bestowed on priests
    3. archaic a teacher who would gather students—followers—around him [in a circle] and teach them—preach his doctrine—or teach cenobites in monasteries​

    Hope this helps.
     
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