A Short Overview of the Nationalised Peculiarities of the Abgar Legend in Georgian, Armenian and Slavonic traditions
The Abgar legend is an apocryphal story about a letter written and an image miraculously imprinted on the towel by Christ himself during his lifetime. The detailed and colourful story narrating how these relics were created became enormously popular during the Middle Ages. Various versions in different languages constitute parts of the historical writings, as well as of the ecclesiastical collections. The Abgar Legend can be found in Syriac, Greek, Latin, Georgian, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Old Church Slavonic, Anglo-Saxon, and Dutch. Not all the legends belong to a single written cycle. In some of the local versions the Abgar legend underwent interesting changes and revealed independent interpolations, some of which I will briefly treat. In these cases, either the plot of the legend was enriched with new elements unknown to the Syriac or Byzantine traditions, such as nationalization of the legend in Armenian historiography, and partial attribution of painting of the Image of Christ to Luke the Apostle in Old Church Slavonic tradition; or, using a particular element of the legend new, independent stories were created, such as the story of the translation of the Hierapolis Keramidion to Georgia by Andrew the First-Called Apostle, or of the Keramidion of Edessa by Antony Matkopeli, one of the Syrian fathers in Georgian tradition, and attribution of the story of the Seamless Tunic of Christ (Khiton) and the 30 Silver Pieces of Judas to the Abgar legend in Armenian tradition.