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Armenian Legends and Poems [1916] at

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From the History of Armenia,

ABGAR the son of Arsham began to reign in the twentieth year of the reign of Arshavr King of Persia. This Abgar was called the Great Man because of his exceeding meekness and wisdom. In the third year of his reign the whole of Armenia fell under the jurisdiction of Rome. . . . Therefore the Romans sent commissioners unto the land of Armenia who brought the image of Cæsar and placed it in all the temples.

At this time was born our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And there was a dispute between Abgar and Herod. For Herod commanded that his image also should be placed in the temples of Armenia, with that of Cæsar; to which Abgar not acceding, the anger of Herod was kindled against him. And he sent his brother's son with a great army against him. And Abgar met and fought him; and he was slain in the battle and his army fled.

Soon after these things Augustus died, and Tiberius reigned over the Roman Empire; and Germanicus sent messengers from Rome unto Arshavr and Abgar concerning the battle in which Herod's brother's son was slain. Whereupon Abgar was displeased, and thought to prepare for revolt and war. Then did he build the city of Edessa wherein to keep the hosts of Armenia, and removed thither his court from Mdzpin, with all his idols: Nebog, Bel, Batnikol, and Tarata; also with the Royal Palace he removed the books of the schools belonging to the temples.

But strife had arisen between his kinsmen of the reigning house of Persia, and Abgar collected his armies and went to reconcile and pacify them. And having settled their disputes he returned home; not sound in his body, but tormented with a painful disease.

At that time Marinus was governor over Phoenicia, Palestine, Assyria, and Mesopotamia. And Abgarus sent two of his notables unto him to show him the treaty of peace between Arshavr and his brother (for the Romans suspected that he had been to Persia to collect armies against them). And Marinus received them with peace and great honour, sending word unto Abgarus, "Fear nothing, only hasten to raise all the taxes."

And on their return the messengers went up to Jerusalem to see our Saviour Christ, having heard of His wonderful deeds.

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And when they had seen Him with their own eyes they returned and told Abgar; at which the king marvelled, and believed Him to be the very Son of God. And because His body was tormented with a painful disease contracted in the land of Persia seven years before, and he was not able to find any cure by men, he sent unto Him a letter asking Him to come and heal him of his disease.

The Letter of Abgarus to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

"Abgarus, a prince of the world, unto Jesus, the Saviour and Benefactor, Who hast appeared in the City of Jerusalem, greetings.

"I have heard of Thee and of the healings wrought by Thy hands, without drugs and without roots; for it is said that Thou givest sight to the blind, Thou makest the lame to walk, and Thou cleansest the lepers; Thou curest those who have been long tormented by diseases, and raisest even the dead. And when I heard all this concerning Thee I thought that either Thou art God come down from Heaven that workest these things, or the Son of God. I have written unto Thee that Thou shouldest trouble Thyself to come unto me, and heal me of my disease. I have heard also that the Jews murmur against Thee, and think to torture Thee. My city is a small one, but it is beautiful, and it is sufficient for us twain."

And taking the letter they found Him in Jerusalem. And unto this the gospel beareth witness, saying: "There were some amongst the heathen that came up to Him." But our Saviour did not undertake to come at the time when they called Him, but made Abgarus worthy of a letter thus.

The Answer to the Letter of Abgarus, written at the command of our Saviour by the Apostle Thomas.

"Blessed is he who believeth on Me though he hath not seen Me. For it is written concerning Me thus: 'They that have seen Me believed not on Me, but they that have not seen Me shall believe and live.' And concerning that which thou hast written unto Me to come down unto thee, it is needful that I fulfil all that for which I was sent; and when I have fulfilled it I will ascend unto Him that sent Me. And after My ascension I will send one of My disciples, who shall heal thee of thy disease, and give Life unto thee and unto all them that are with thee."

This letter did Anan the messenger bring unto Abgarus, with the Image of the Saviour, which remaineth in the city of Edessa until this day.

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