Subject: Jumper Molokans in Armenia
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002
From: William B Chalfant
Mr. A.J. Conovaloff:
I enjoyed your interesting website on the Molokan.
I am doing a study on the Armenian Thronrakian [Thonrakanian] Christians and I note in my studies that in Leon Arpee's, The Armenian Awakening, A History of the Armenian Church 1820-1860, Chicago, 1909, mentioned that the Thronrakians in Arkhveli (Russian Armenia) were reported by a magazine, "The Misionary Herald", Dec 1852, to be in fellowship with Russian Molokans. The Thronrakanians [Thonrakanians] also seemed to be Pentecostal (as the Jumper Molokans you mentioned on your sight), and believed in the phenomena of speaking in tongues and prophesying. They seem to have been non-trinitarians.
The Thronrakians [Thonrakanians] have been traced back, of course, to the third century, and the followers of the dynamic Monarchian Christian, Paul of Samosata (in Antioch, Syria).
I just wondered if you were familiar with any historical tradition of fellowship between the Molokans and the Armenian Thronrakians [Thonrakanians] (also, the Thronrakians were historically associated with the Lake Van area not far from Mt. Ararat).
William Chalfant, Th.D.,
Dear Dr. Chalfant:
I could not find "Thronrakanians" in any reference or search engine. Perhaps there is another spelling. [Thonrakanians]
Would you please send me a photocopy of the page(s) in Arpee which reference the Molokans? Or you can scan and e-mail the text. I'd like to post your discovery.
Pentecostalism seems to have officially originated in America after 1900, then got exported to Russia. See: "Were Molokans the first to "Speak in Tongues" in Los Angeles?" http://www.molokane.org/molokan/NEWS/Azusa_Street.html
I am forwarding your question to several scholars who should know more about this than me.
- Ethel Dunn, Berekely CA — Historian & translator of Molokans for 40 years
- Joyce Bivin, Israel — Armenian Molokan historian & genealogist who has been visited Kars, Turkey several times. Born in US.
- Dr Breyfogle, Ohio State Univ.— Russian religious historian who did his thesis on Spiritual Christians and how they were moved from central Russia to the Caucasus from 1800 to 1900
- Dr Clay, Arizona State Univ. — Russian religious historian who did his thesis on the Klysti
- Dr. Agajanian, Arizona State Univ. — Russian religious historian visiting professor from Moscow
- Koozma Tarasoff — Doukhobor historian
Subject: Re: Jumper Molokans
Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002
From: J. Bivin
Thanks for forwarding Dr. Chalfant's letter. This is right up my alley as my g-g-great grandfather was a Thonrakian, or Paulician [different creeds]. I've done some research on this but not on an academic level. I will write to Dr. Chalfant and share what I know and some resources.
I just returned from two weeks in Armenia. Other than meeting relatives I never knew existed, the other highlight was meeting an Armenian who, on his own initiative, became a Molokan. We were visiting a school outside Yerevan and as we walked in I saw a man with a beard and I knew immediately this was a Molokan beard. I couldn't contain myself so I went up to him and asked if he was Armenian. He said yes, and I said but you look like a Molokan and he said he was Molokan. I wasn't able to find out how he became Molokan but he independently became one as his parents were not Molokan. The organization I was with was renovating some rooms in this school and hire Molokans to do the work as they are the best workers. I found it interesting these Molokans have such a strong witness so as to cause an outsider (an Armenian, no less) to want to become a Molokan.
Trust all is well. Keep up the good work.
Regarding Armenians joining Molokans: at least one Molokan girl from Erevan e-mailed me and mentioned that she had joined the Armenian Molokan Church by her own choice then moved to America. I suspect that others have also crossed-over.
Subject: Re: Jumper Molokans
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 21:11:48 +0300
From: "J. Bivin" < firstname.lastname@example.org >
First of all, the word is spelled Thonrak(ian/etzi), not Thronrak, which, according to Conybeare, is the Armenian equivalent for a dweller in Thonrak, a place in Turkey where the Paulicians lived before becoming refugees to Russia in 1828-1829. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the spelling mistake until now.
You can do a search for Paulicians, or Thonrakians on the web and come up with some information. The best source is The Key of Truth which is hard to get but may be in your local library. My cousins husband found it in a library in Chicago and xeroxed it. I'll send you my response to Dr. Chalfant — see what you think of it.
I'm interested to meet this Armenian girl from Erevan who joined the Armenian Molokan Church, simply to meet her and also to find out where this Armenian Molokan Church is located. It would be very interesting if there was indeed an AMC in Armenia today!