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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Armenian; Aryan; Religion

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ar -mē´ni -an , ar´i -an . This greatly resembled that of Persia, though Zoroastrianism and its dualistic system were not professed. We are thus enabled to judge how far the religion of the Avesta is due to Zoroaster's reformation. Aṛamazd (Ahura Mazdā ), creator of heaven and earth, was father of all the chief deities. His spouse was probably Spandaṛamet (Speñta Ārmaiti ), goddess of the earth, who was later held to preside over the underworld (compare Persephone; Hellenistic). Among her assistants as genii of fertility were Horot and Moṛot (Haurvatāṭ and Ameretāṭ ), tutelary deities of Mt. Massis (now styled Ararat). Aṛamazd 's worship seems to have fallen very much into the background in favor of that of inferior deities, among the chief of whom was his daughter Anaḥit (Anāhita ), who had temples in many places. Her statues were often of the precious metals, and among her many names were "Golden Mother" and "Goddess of the Golden Image." Hence to the present day the word "Golden" enters into many Armenian names. White heifers and green boughs were offered her as goddess of fruitfulness, nor was religious prostitution in her honor uncommon. Next in popularity came her sister Astghik ("the little star"), i.e. the planet Venus, goddess of beauty, wife of the deified hero Vaḥagn (Verethraghna ). He sprang from heaven, earth, and sea, and overthrew dragons and other evil beings. Another of Anahit 's sisters was Nanē (compare Assyrian Nanā , Nannaea ), afterward identified with Athēnē . Her brother Miḥṛ (Mithra ) had the sun as his symbol in the sky and the sacred fire on earth, both being objects of worship. In his temples a sacred fire was rekindled once a year. Aṛamazd 's messenger and scribe was Tiuṛ or Tiṛ , who entered men's deeds in the "Book of Life." He led men after death to Aṛamazd for judgment. Before birth he wrote men's fates on their foreheads. The place of punishment was Dzhokhk'h (= Persian Dūzakh ). To the sun and moon sacrifices were offered on the mountain-tops. Rivers and sacred springs and other natural objects were also adored. Prayer was offered facing eastward. Omens were taken from the rustling of the leaves of the sacred Sōnean forest. Aṛmaviṛ was the religious capital.

Among inferior spiritual existences were the Aṛlezk'h , who licked the wounds of those slain in battle and restored them to life. The Parikk'h were evidently the Pairakas (Peris) of Persia. The Armenian mythology told of huge dragons which sometimes appeared as men, sometimes as worms, or basilisks, elves, sea-bulls, dragon-lions, etc. As in Persia, the demons made darts out of the parings of a man's nails to injure him with. Therefore these parings, together with teeth and trimmings of hair, must be hidden in some sacred place.


Eznik Goghbatzi; Agathangelos; Moses of Khorēnē ; Eghishē ; Palasanean; Faustus Byzantinus; Chhamchheantz; Plutarch; Strabo; Tacitus. See my "Conversion of Armenia," R.T.S .; The Expositor T, II, 202ff.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Armenian; Aryan; Religion'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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