The Biblical History of Georgian Ancestors From Adam to Jesus, by Bishop Anania Dzhaparidze | WARNING!

Bishop Anania Dzhaparidze has produced a book (in Georgian) entitled ‘The Biblical History of Georgian Ancestors From Adam to Jesus’. In it we read: ‘Two thousand years ago, after the Ascension, the Lord appeared to the All-holy Mother-of-God and informed her about the future life of the Georgian people: “O Mother of Mine, I shall not disregard the people chosen above/most favoured of all nations, through your help for them”.’ These words of the Lord are presented by the bishop in Old Georgian, which he then renders for his readers into modern Georgian as follows: ‘O Mother of Mine, I shall not disregard the Georgian people, glorious among nations/peoples, through your help for them.’ One might be wondering at this point where in the Bible’s New Testament this passage occurs. One will of course search in vain, for it is to be found in the 11th-century Georgian chronicle of Leont’i Mroveli. Indeed, the reference is helpfully given by the good bishop – it is page 38 of Simon Q’aukhchishvili’s 1955 edition of Kartlis Tsxovreba ‘Life of Kartli [Georgia]’. 

We are, thus, in no way dealing with a two-thousand year-old source in the Bible. And the second issue is how the bishop comes to identiry the ‘most favoured nation’ with the Georgian people. Further down p.38 of Q’aukhchishvili’s work one reads: ‘And, in the reign of the very same Anderk’i, Andrew and Simon the Canaanite of the twelve holy apostles came to Abkhazia and Egrisi. And there, in the town of Nik’opsia on the frontier with the Greeks, Saint Simon the Canaanite died. But Andrew converted the Mingrelians and went on the way to K’lardzheti.’ Nik’opsia is north-west Abkhazia’s modern-day Afon CH’yts (or New Athos) and was Abkhazia’s capital in the later centuries of the 1st millennium of our era – it is the site of a church dedicated to St. Simon which was reputedly built where he was buried. Egrisi was the land of the Mingrelian speakers, Mingrelian being a sister-language of, but not mutually intelligible with, Georgian, though K’lardzheti was a Georgian-speaking province which now finds itself within Turkey’s borders. 

And so, we see that the good bishop is somewhat wide of the mark both in terms of chronology and Biblical ascription but also in his cavalier misidentification of the ‘most favoured people’ with the Georgians – clearly it was the Abkhazians (along with the Mingrelians) who should be deemed ‘the most favoured’ in this mythical text! 

A further illustration of the author’s inability to differentiate between myth and reality is seen in his chapter dealing with ‘The Resettlement of the Ethnic Carriers of the Proto-Kartvelian [in Georgian p’rot’o-kartveluri] Language’. He writes: ‘The first peoples created as a result of the mixing of tongues following the collapse of the Tower of Babel “were spread by the Lord God over the surface of the earth”. Among the first peoples […] Genesis names the Tobels [Tubals] and Mosokhs [Meshechs], who are deemed to be the ancestors of the Georgians. Those, together with the other peoples, clearly had to go away from the common motherland of all peoples – Mespotamia – to different corners of the globe to be dispersed across mother-earth. After the dispersal were the Proto-Georgians [in Georgian p’rot’o-kartvelebi] able to preserve their ethnic image [and] in which country can a trace of them be seen?’ 

Whilst it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the biblical Tobels/Tubals and Mosokhs/Meshechs might have been tribes that spoke a form of (Proto-)Kartvelian[1], there is absolutely no way of proving this, and it is certainly more than fanciful to assert that the Bible provides evidence for the presence of Proto-Georgians – note the subtle shift from Proto-Kartvelian lanuage to Proto-Georgian people – at the putative period of the Tower of Babel, which is itself in truth nothing more than a myth to provide an explanation for the existence of myriad mutually unintelligible languages around the world. 

As for identifying a possible land (or lands) where a trace might be discovered for the notional settlement of the ancient tribe(s) after the alleged dispersal from Mesopotamia, our bishop goes on to observe: ‘In the ancient world, already even before the time of Christ, the Hispanic and Caucasian Iberians were regarded as a folk sharing a single origin.’ This is a reference to the once popular but no longer seriously entertained idea that the Basques and the Georgians derive from a common stock[2], which no doubt owes its origin to the fact that the ancients knew of two ‘Iberians’, those in Spain and those to the east of Colchis in Transcaucasia, namely the Georgians. But sharing a name does not necessitate the assumption of common identity. The River Ebro gave rise to the ethnonym employed for denizens of (part of) Spain (or the Iberian peninsula), whilst Old Armenian was the source of the ‘Iverian/Iberian’ to designate the (Eastern) Georgians. Virkh in Classical Armenian was the nominative plural meaning ‘Georgians’, whilst the prepositional phrase i Virs was ‘to(wards) the Georgians/Georgia’. From this it is a short step for the Graeco-Romans to derive 'Iveria/Iberia' for Georgia.

Discussion of, or speculation about, ethno-linguistic relationships and history is surely best left to professional ethnologists, linguists and historians. 


[1] Proto-Kartvelian is the common ancestor of the four Kartvelian (or South Caucasian) languages in existence today, namely: Georgian, Svan, Mingrelian and Laz, the last two being regarded in Georgia as co-dialects of the Zan language. 

[2] In fact, supporters of the so-called Basque-Caucasian Hypothesis once regularly posited commonalities between Basque, on the one hand, and one or more indigenous Caucasian language, on the other, without worrying about the fact that there is no genetic relationship between the Kartvelian family and the indigenous languages of the North-West, North-Central and North-Eastern/Daghestanian groups. 



Articles & Opinion


Abkhaz World

Follow Us