There never was a genocide of the Armenian people according to the Turkish government, ‘In fact, if anything, it was the Armenians who massacred the Turks.’ Not only do the Turks make these outlandish accusations, but they also have endowed chairs at universities to produce, among other things, revisions of the history of the Ottoman Turk’s relationship with the Armenians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The production of these false histories is an ‘academic’ pursuit designed to introduce into the public record an alternate account of the Armenian genocide. As an Armenian I am angered by the deliberate attempt to rewrite history, yet confident the Turks will fail in their pursuit to deny the genocide. The Turks must fail because there are too many Armenian survivors who have shared their stories to the contrary. I have heard many of these stories, and you probably have too.
I am convinced that the Armenians were massacred by the Turks, not primarily because of what I have read, but because of what I have heard. I have spoken with survivors and children of survivors who have tearfully related what they or their ancestors endured in historic Armenia. There is no doubt in my mind that the genocide occurred, and anyone who denies the genocide is, I am convinced, either ignorant of the oral history of the genocide (by oral history I mean people sharing their stories verbally with others), or deliberately deciding to participate in a distortion of history.
While it is understandable that someone reading both Armenian and Turkish documents regarding life in historic Armenia at the turn of the century would be confused by the markedly different accounts, series of discussions with Armenian survivors or children of survivors would give validation to the Armenian version of history. Oral history therefore is for us, and our society, a kind of affirmation of written history; and when we tell our friends and neighbors about what the Armenians endured we are participating in the dissemination of oral history. Indeed, there is a sense in which anyone who hears the oral history of the genocide and denies its existence participates in the continuation of the genocide; for how can one consistently hear a story told with such passion and deny its truth?
Most of the Bible began as oral history. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were told from parent to child for generations before they were written down. As grandchildren of the survivors of the genocide we do not distrust our grandparents’ version of history. Nor do we expect our grandchildren to doubt there was an Armenian genocide as we inform them. Just as vital information of the genocide is passed from generation to generation, so too in the Bible vital information of the works of Yahweh were passed from generation to generation.
Now let’s look at the story of the resurrection. The biblical accounts of the resurrection are stories which were first told orally and then written down by either those who themselves saw, or by those who had spoken to the witnesses of, the resurrection. The biblical story was not created by a group of fiction writers, but by a dedicated group of Jews who had become convinced, (either through personal experience or through speaking with the witnesses), that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. The method of transmission of the story of the resurrection in the first century is akin to the method of transmission of the story of the genocide in the 20th century. We are the children and grandchildren of two peoples: those who witnessed the genocide and those who witnessed the resurrection. Both histories began orally, and then were written down. Both stories are told with passion by our ancestors and the validity of both stories are challenged regularly. Indeed, those who deny the resurrection of Christ are the same as those who deny the Genocide of the Armenians.
As Christian Armenians there are at least two stories we must share: 1. Christ is risen from the dead. 2. The Armenians endured a genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Let us be consistent in our thought, and consistent in our profession, for the glory of God.W