They are Able to Garner the Words of Scripture into Their Hearts’ Store

His jaws, like dishes of incense, emit a fragrance of processed ointments. (Song of Songs 5:13, Armenian version)

This indicates the meticulous, deeply ruminated words of the teaching of vardapets [scholars and teachers of the Armenian Church]. They are guides of the Church, who by the continual, unwearied motion of their jaws sweeten the minds and thoughts of humanity with sweet, processed ointments. The things collected in pure hearts, as in a dish, they spread out before people, neither obscuring the incomprehensible things in great profundity, nor making the mysteries of God too plainly obvious. Instead, they dispense the knowledge of Scripture at an intermediate level of instruction, so that it may neither be despised as something negligible, by being too easily acquired, nor cause despair among those who desire to learn, by its unintelligibility. Rather, with a modest effort, they are able to garner the words of Scripture into their hearts’ store. As animals which graze and ruminate and regurgitate their food, so also do vardapets bring up again the words of the Holy Spirit gathered in their hearts. Regurgitating and ruminating on them, chewing them fine by the unwearying motion of their jaws, they dispense from their mouth the enlightenment of the sacred Scriptures, like processed ointment, into the minds of humanity.

Gregory of Narek, Commentary on the Song of Songs, trans. by Roberta Ervine (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2007), 154-5.

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