Oxford University Armenian Studies Chair Prof. Thomson Dies


LONDON — Prof. Robert W. Thomson (1934-2018), former Calouste Gulbenkian Professor of Armenian Studies at Oxford University (1992-2002), who died recently, is remembered by his colleagues and students for his monumental contributions to Armenian, Syriac, Georgian and Byzantine studies.

Thomson was one of the most prolific scholars of Armenian history and letters and leaves behind an invaluable corpus of studies, translations and commentaries. May his soul rest in peace.

Robert William Thomson was born on March 24, 1934 in London.

When an Armenian Studies Professorship was established in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the Harvard University in 1969, Thomson was appointed to the chair which was subsequently named in honor of Armenian saint and scholar Mesrob Mashtots. Thomson held this position until 1992, when he accepted the Gulbenkian Chair in Armenian Studies at Oxford University in England.

During the period of 1984–1989, he was the Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Thomson translated into English several Old ArmenianSyriac and Greek texts as well as having written two textbooks on the Armenian language, An Introduction to Classical Armenian (Caravan Books, 1975) and A Textbook of Modern Western Armenian (with Kevork B. Bardakjian) (Caravan Books, 1977).

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His other books include The Lives of Saint Gregory: The Armenian, Greek, Arabic, and Syriac Versions of the History attributed to Agathangelos, translated with Introduction and Commentary, Caravan Books, Ann Arbor MI, 2010 and Saint Basil of Caesarea and Armenian Cosmology, A Study of the Armenian Version of Saint Basil’s Hexaemeron and its Influence on Medieval Armenian Views about the Cosmos [CSCO 646, Subsidia 130], Leuven 2012.

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