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52

THE ARMENIAN. The Old Testament, the whole of which has not been printed, was made from the Seventy, and the New from the Alexandrian manuscript of the Greek. To Ludolf, the Ethiopian scholar, (1700,) we are indebted for most of our knowledge of Abyssinia and its versions. From the matrices presented by him in that year, to the Frankfort library, was made the type from which most editions of parts of the Ethiopian Scriptures have been printed. It is to the Ethiopians we owe a curious apocryphal document, called the book of Enoch. Though without any claim to be regarded as part of the Canonical Scriptures, it is undoubtedly of great antiquity.

In the region between the Black and the Caspian Seas, and south of the great range of the Caucasus, is the native seat of the Armenians. In this neighbourhood the ark rested after the flood, and hence the first settlers ascended into the plains of Shinar and India. For ages, the people who originally belonged to this district have been the travellers and merchants of the east. They are found from Palestine to central Africa, from Venice to Canton. Their religious faith is nominally Christian, and not unlike that of the Coptic church. They are Monophysites, and are still governed by their own patriarchs. They have a large religious establishment, in their own country, in Turkey, and even in Hindostan. The forefathers of this people very early received the gospel. At the beginning of

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the fifth century, (406) Miesrob, a learned Armenian, invented a set of characters adapted to the language of the nation. Tradition relates that he received them from heaven; but without crediting this statement, it is certain that they were formally adopted by royal edict, and have ever since continued in use among Armenians. Immediately after this invention, Miesrob communicated it to the Armenian patriarch, (Isaac by name,) and then travelled through the country to establish schools, in order to teach the people the Christian faith. On his return to the capital, he found that the patriarch was engaged in transcribing the Scriptures from the Syriac (the only written language then in use in that country) into the newly-invented Ar. menian, and by a joint effort this work was soon completed. At the council of Ephesus, two pupils of Miesrob appeared, by direction of their master, to recount the progress made in the translation, and to request a complete copy of the Seventy, and of the Greek New Testament, for the use of the translators. On receiving this boon, (which, we may suppose, was voted by acclamation,) Miesrob and Isaac prepared to revise their work. They found themselves, however, ignorant of Greek, and therefore they sent others of their pupils to Alexandria—then the great school of Greek learningto study the language. On the return of those young men, (one of whom was Moses Choronensis, the historian of Armenia,) the work was resumed, and soon after completed. For many

54

GEORGIA AND THE BIBLE.

centuries manuscript 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 awakeneď 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.* 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 Sixteenth Report.

THE GOTHS.

55 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, eveny 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 Antoninus, (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 Moso-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 yaluable remnants of antiquity. This version was made by Ulphilas, bishop of the Meso-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, whic!

56

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

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