Eznik of Kolb

Eznik of Kolb (Armenian: Եզնիկ Կողբացի, romanizedYeznik Koghbatsi), was an Armenian Christian writer of the 5th century.

Eznik Koghbatsi


Eznik was born at Koghb (Tuzluca), in the historical province of Tayk, a tributary valley of the Chorokh, in Northern Greater Armenia.

He was a pupil of Isaac the Great of Armenia and of Saint Mesrop. At their request he went first to Edessa, then to Constantinople to perfect himself in the various sciences and to collect or copy Syriac and Greek manuscripts of the Bible, and the writings of the Fathers of the Church. He returned to Armenia after the First Council of Ephesus (431).

He is probably identical with Eznik, Bishop of Bagrevand region, who took part in the Synod of Artashat in 449.


In addition to his labors in connection with the new version of the Bible and various translations, he composed several works, the principal of which is his remarkable apologetic treatise "Against the Sects" or "On God". It was written between 441 and 449, and contains four parts:

  • In the first, against the heathens, Eznik combats the eternity of matter and the substantial existence of evil.
  • In the second he refutes the chief doctrines of Parseeism/Zoroastrianism (particularly Zurvanism.
  • The third is directed against aspects of the beliefs of the Greek philosophers (Pythagoreans, Platonists, Peripatetics, Stoics and Epicureans). This is the only section in which Eznik takes his arguments from the Bible rather than from reason.
  • The fourth book is an exposition and refutation of Marcionism as a dualist heresy.

An essential theme of the work is on the importance of free will in Christian theology. Eznik displays much acumen and an extensive erudition. Eznik was evidently as familiar with the Persian language (Middle Persian) as with Greek literature. His Armenian diction is of the choicest classical type, although the nature of his subject matter forced him to use quite a number of Greek words. The book also contains many interesting asides, such as Eznik's refutation of astrology[1] and his diversion to the topic of animal behavior and psychology.[2]

The original manuscript of "Against the Sects" is lost: The work survived due to a single medieval transcription copied at the University of Gladzor. This manuscript is currently at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. A copy of the first printing of "Against the Sects" as a book in Smyrna (now Izmir) in 1762 is in the collection at the British Library.[3] The Mechitarists at Venice published an updated edition in 1826 and again in 1865.


French TranslationEdit

A French translation (titled "Réfutation des différentes sectes") by LeVaillant de Florival was published in 1853.[4]

German TranslationEdit

A German translation (titled "Eznik von Kolb, Wider die Sekten") by J. M. Schmid was published in 1900.[5]

English TranslationEdit

A complete English translation (titled "On God") by Monica Blanchard and Robin Darling Young was published in 1998.[6]

An (abridged) retelling of the work in English (titled "Refutation of the Sects") by Thomas Samuelian was published in 1986[7] and is available to read online.[8]


  •   Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Eznik". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


External linksEdit

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Missing or empty |title= (help)