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GEORGIA AND THE BIBLE.
centuries inanuscript copies of this translation were in use, and in 1666 one of their bishops (Uscan) printed at Amsterdam an edition of the New Testament. The repeated reprinting of Scripture has awakened the Armenian mind to a large extent, and now the Armenian church generally maintains the sufficiency of Scripture as the rule of faith and practice. *
North of Armenia, though still between the Black and Caspian Seas, is the country of Georgia. The tradition of the Georgian church is, that their country received the gospel in the fourth century, through the teaching of a Greek maiden called Ninna, and that the Bible was translated in the eighth century by Euphemius, a Georgian, and founder of the Iberian or Georgian monastery at Mount Athos. There are different accounts of these occurrences ; but it is certain that a proper knowledge of the doctrines of revelation is still considered an indispensable part of female education, and that this feeling has been formed under the influence of the ancient tradition. It is said, also, that the autograph version of Euphemius was still to be seen, a few years since, in the library of Mount Athos.f An edition of this version was printed at Moscow in 1742, in three large folio volumes. This edition was printed under the inspection of the Georgian princes, Arcil and
* Forty-third Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society, page 89.
† Dr. Pinkerton's Letter, British and Foreign Bible Society's Sixteentb Report.
THE GOTAS. Bacchar; and the matrices of the types used in printing it having escaped destruction in the great conflagration at Moscow, they were afterwards used by the Moscow Bible Society in printing other editions. The alphabet used is ecclesiastical : though more recently the civil character has been employed in editions published at Tiflis, and in Russia.
For centuries before the Christian era, the nations of the north of Europe had been regarded with fear, even, by imperial Rome. In Jutland and Prussia different tribes of Goths were settled, and further north were the Sclavi, or Vandals, the forefathers of the millions of modern Russia. In the days of Antocinus, (180,) the former, after extending their dominion in eastern Germany, moved in great numbers to the shores of the Black Sea, and thence invaded different parts of the Roman empire. Dacia they conquered; Mæsia (hence Meso-Goths) was assigned to them by Valens. Subsequently they revolted, and in 409 A.D., under Alaric, they took and pillaged Rome. The language of this people is closely allied to the modern German and ancient Saxon, and the version of the New Testament in this tongue is one of the most valuable remnants of antiquity. This version was made by Ulphilas, bishop of the Moso-Goths. He was born in the year 318. and educated at Constantinople. There he became a Christian, and was ordained bishop in 348. The Gothic alphabet, which is
THE SCLAVONIC VERSION. a modification of the Greek, he invented, and in translating the Scriptures used the version of the Seventy in the Old Testament, and Constantinopolitan manuscripts of the Greek in the New : parts only of the version remain, He seems to have been a man of high moral character and of great power. It became a proverb among his countrymen, that whatever was done by Ulphilas was well done, and, chiefly through the influence which he possessed over them, he induced them to embrace the Christian faith.
The most important manuscript of this version is now called the Codex Argenteus, or the Silver Manuscript, from the circumstance that the letters are of a silver hue, excepting the initials, which are of gold. This manuscript seems to have been produced in Italy, but the precise date is uncertain, some referring it to the fifth century. It is now preserved, after a somewhat strange history, in the royal library at Upsal.
As some languages owe their written characters to the Bible, so in this instance it is to the Bible we owe our knowledge of one of the most important members of the Teutonic branch of tongues. For literary purposes, the Gothic version of Scripture is one of the most precious relics of antiquity. .
To the translation of the Scriptures, the Sclavonic also owes its alphabet, which is an adaptation from the Greek. This was the work
THE ARABIC. of Cyril and Methodius, the first missionaries to the Sclavonians. Both were sons of a Greek nobleman of the name of Leo, a resident in Thessalonica. Cyril, then known as Constantine, was the companion of the young prince Michael, and received an excellent education, but betook himself in early life to the shores of the Black Sea, where he studied for some years, preparing himself for the arduous work to which he had deliberately devoted his life. Methodius held an appointment in the army, and was for ten years governor on the Sclavonian frontiers, where he had ample opportunity for studying the Sclavonic dialects. He ultimately accompanied his brother to Moravia, where they spent four years and a half in translating the Scriptures. They both died towards the close of the ninth century. One of the earliest editions of part of their version was published in 1495, at Montenegro; the earliest being published five years before at Cracow, in Poland.
There is one language more that claims a place in this list of ancient versions—the Arabic. Of all the Shemitish dialects, this language is the richest in grammatical forms and in literature, and it is still a spoken tongue. It is practically the vernacular speech of Arabia, Syria, Persia, Malabar, Egypt, Nubia, and Barbary. From the western confines of Africa to the Philippine islands, and from the tropio of Capricorn to Tartary—that is, over a hun38
THE BIBLE IN ARABIC. dred and thirty degrees of longitude, and seventy degrees of latitude, this language is venerated and studied. “We will begin to preach,” said Henry Martyn, “ to Arabia, Syria, Persia, and Tartary, part of India and China, half of Africa, all the sea-coast of the Mediterranean and Turkey ; and one tongue shall suffice for them all."
Though this language, however, is thus important in our own time, it will be easily seen that in the early age of the church it was less 80. Greek, Latin, and Syriac, did much of the work for which Arabic is now required, and the progress of translation into this tongue extended in proportion as the empire of other tongues waned. One of the earliest versions was made in the seventh century. In the eighth, the bishop of Seville, finding Latin falling into disuse, and Arabic spreading through the Mohammedan conquests, executed a translation of Jerome's Vulgate into Arabic. The churches at Antiuch and Alexandria also produced translations into Arabic at different periods from their own versions. Various other Arabic versions have been made at different times, and some in our own day. They, however, belong rather to a later period of our history. Mungo Park found that the Mandingo negroes possessed, among other mss., an Arabic version of the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and Isaiah. These mss. they had purchased from the Moors, and they were held by the people in high esteem.
If these facts be reviewed, several lessons