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Article

The early Christian history of the Black Sea Goths in the light of new Gothic inscriptions from Crimea

Vinogradov A., Korobov M.

The paper discusses a previously unpublished rock inscription found in Bakhchysarai, Crimea, which contains an acronymised Greek formula “Σωτὴρ Θεὸς Ἰησοῦς” arguably written by a person literate both in Greek and Wulfilian Gothic. The analysis of the inscription not only offers some fresh insights into Gothic palaeography, but, backed by the recently published Gothic graffiti from Mangup, new onomastic data from Panticapaeum and a critical reevaluation of the written sources, also permits broader inferences to be made on important aspects of Christianisation of the Goths of the Black Sea. Regarding the latter, the authors suggest that the first Gothic Christians on the North shore of the Black Sea were the Goths of Bosporus. It is not known whether they were originally baptised into Arianism or only subject to Homoian influence, but it is very likely that in the late 4th century John Chrysostom tried to include them within the scope of his campaign of “Nicaeanisation”. The Goths of the South and Southwest Crimea must have converted later, after the mid-5th century: the newly discovered acronymised anti-Arian Christological formulas written in letters of the Gothic alphabet point to a Nicene influence coming in all likelihood from Bosporus. But unlike their Bosporan kinsmen, the Crimean Goths were not given a bishop of their own and stayed subordinate to the powerful Church of Cherson until the early 8th century when the authonomous archbishopric of Gothia (Γοτθία) was established in the Southwest Crimea. -