WE CONFESS

THE BIBLE

in the Armenian Apostolic Church

“We recognize the Holy Gospel as our Father
and the Apostolic Universal Church as (our) Mother”

Surb Yegische, historian, 5th century

When we consider the role of the Bible in the Armenian Church, we think of the role of the blood as it circulates in the human body. Throughout the history of the Armenian Church, just as it is today, the Bible occupies a central position.

"Asdvadzaschunch" (Arm. "Breath of God") is the name of the Bible in Armenian. It is the book of books, the written revelation of God before mankind. It is the source on which the creed, theology, worship (in the broad sense of the word) and the whole life of the Church are based. The Armenians have great reverence for the Asdvadzaschunch precisely because it is inspired by God himself. It is precisely the divine inspiration that makes them so unique and their authority - irrefutable. Indeed, for Armenians, the Bible is the breath of God, spreading in the form of a spiritual and intellectual force to bestow grace and wisdom that transcend the literal meaning of the words themselves.

Reading the Bible is understood in the Armenian Church as an inseparable part of the communal life of the church (worship services, catechumenal classes, theology, etc.) and the personal life of the individual believer (personal prayer, spiritual life, etc.). The need for constant reading of the Bible is justified with the help of the Holy Scriptures themselves (cf. e.g Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Numbers 15:39-40; Psalms 1, 2; Century 5, 39; 1 Tim. 4:13-16 etc.). The Fathers of the Church point out that reading the Bible cannot be compared to reading any other book, because it is more than just receiving information, it is a conversation, a dialogue with the Creator himself revealed has the power to comfort, heal, and renew the souls of men: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) and "There is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). It is "helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit" (Ep 6, 17). It's a "hammer that shatters rocks" (Jeremiah 23:29) and a “fire” that burns up the impurity of souls. "It is a light that shines in a dark place until the day breaks and the morning star rises" in the hearts of believers (2 Pet. 1, 19). And ultimately it is the "Word of God" that shows us the way to eternal life (Phil. 2:16).

Recommendation: Brochure "Rediscovering the Bible as a Treasure" by the member churches of ACK Germany

“We recognize the Holy Gospel as our Father
and the Apostolic Universal Church as (our) Mother”

Yegish, historians, 5th century

When we consider the role of the Bible in the Armenian Church, we think of the role of the blood as it circulates in the human body. Throughout the history of the Armenian Church, just as it is today, the Bible occupies a central position.

"Asdvadzaschunch" (Arm. "Breath of God") is the name of the Bible in Armenian. It is the book of books, the written revelation of God before mankind. It is the source on which the creed, theology, worship (in the broad sense of the word) and the whole life of the Church are based. The Armenians have great reverence for the Asdvadzaschunch precisely because it is inspired by God himself. It is precisely the divine inspiration that makes them so unique and their authority - irrefutable. Indeed, for Armenians, the Bible is the breath of God, spreading in the form of a spiritual and intellectual force to bestow grace and wisdom that transcend the literal meaning of the words themselves.

Reading the Bible is understood in the Armenian Church as an inseparable part of the communal life of the church (worship services, catechumenal classes, theology, etc.) and the personal life of the individual believer (personal prayer, spiritual life, etc.). The need for constant reading of the Bible is justified with the help of the Holy Scriptures themselves (cf. e.g Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Numbers 15:39-40; Psalms 1, 2; Century 5, 39; 1 Tim. 4:13-16 etc.). The Fathers of the Church point out that reading the Bible cannot be compared to reading any other book, because it is more than just receiving information, it is a conversation, a dialogue with the Creator himself revealed has the power to comfort, heal, and renew the souls of men: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) and "There is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). It is "helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit" (Ep 6, 17). It's a "hammer that shatters rocks" (Jeremiah 23:29) and a “fire” that burns up the impurity of souls. "It is a light that shines in a dark place until the day breaks and the morning star rises" in the hearts of believers (2 Pet. 1, 19). And ultimately it is the "Word of God" that shows us the way to eternal life (Phil. 2:16).

Recommendation: Brochure "Rediscovering the Bible as a Treasure" by the member churches of ACK Germany

Important information about the Bible:

In Armenian, the Bible's full name is Azdvadzashunch Madyan, a term commonly used by the populace and not limited to clergy or theologians. It means "divinely inspired book". But the Bible is simply called "Asdwadzaschunch," which means "Breath of God." This name has its origin in the writings of the apostle Paul (cf 2 Timothy 3:16). While Paul uses this term casually, the Armenians recognized a rich theological reality that constitutes the Bible in its deepest and truest sense. The word points to the core of the Armenian point of view. For them, the Bible is indeed the breath of God, spreading out in the form of a spiritual and intellectual force to bestow grace and wisdom that transcend the literal meaning of the words themselves.
Let's look at the Bible from the perspective of Armenian history. When did the Armenians first come into contact with her?

The Christian faith in Armenia predates the text of the Bible. Apostolic missions brought Christianity to our country as early as the first century. According to early tradition, Christianity was first proclaimed in Armenia by St Tadeus and St Bartholomew, two of Jesus' twelve apostles. But up until the beginning of the fifth century, the monks and missionaries preached the gospel, reading from the Bible in Greek or Syriac, and translating these readings orally into Armenian. But this method of spreading the Word of God was discouraging and ineffective. Fourth- and fifth-century historians gave unenthusiastic testimonies about the situation of Christianity in Armenia. Although the people were baptized as Christians, these writers usually complained about the indifference and apathy of the populace. In fact, the new converts had not been led to a Christian life because they did not have direct access to God's Word in their own language. They knew about the Bible, but they didn't know the Bible. Christianity seemed to be something outside of their lives in their people and homeland - something imposed on them and alien to their innate cultural ethos.

In the words of a fifth-century historian, Pavstos of Byzantium:

"Day and night the monks poured out the Christian teachings on the population like a torrent of rain from the clouds, but not one of them, not a single one, could understand a word".

There was a kind of invisible but impenetrable screen between the Word of God and the populace. The Holy Scriptures were a foreign language in the ears of the Armenians, which found no direct route to their hearts and minds.

Under these circumstances, evangelization work could at best be a slow process with a discouraging effect on the ministers. Certainly there was no better means of accomplishing this task than to give the people direct access to the original writing of the Christian faith - the Holy Scriptures. A church without the Bible in the hands of its believers could not long stand or stand in the midst of a pagan world. The Armenian Church Fathers were acutely aware of the need for an Armenian translation of the Bible. But at that time no Armenian alphabet existed.

At the beginning of the 5th century, a cleric, Mesrop Maschtotz, a monk who devoted his missionary work to the remote provinces of Armenia, was able to develop an alphabet that was able to reproduce all the peculiarities of Armenian pronunciation. The great work of translating the Bible followed. The translation of the Scriptures produced a total transformation or transformation in the Armenians, the beneficial effects of which were felt not only in the fifth century but also in later centuries. All Armenian literature - and it would not be an exaggeration to say all Armenian culture - was deeply influenced, not only in a linguistic and literary way, but also and especially in a psychological, intellectual and spiritual way. In the words of a famous Armenian scholar, historian and Byzantinist Nikoghayos Adontz:

“The Latin Vulgate did not have the same importance to Latin countries as the Armenian Bible did to Armenians. Latin literature had existed long before the Vulgate appeared. The Armenian Bible, on the other hand, ushered in the beginning of a new era in which the Armenian people, by learning to use the pen for the first time, took their place in world civilization.”

Throughout classical Armenian literature one can see the influence of the Bible. She not only heralded the awakening of Armenian literature as such, but became the inspiration for the entire course of that literature for many centuries to come.

Most of the remaining Armenian manuscripts are either complete copies of the Bible or parts of the Bible as separate books - mainly the New Testament and the Psalms.

Between the beginnings of the Armenian Bible in 407 and its first printed edition in 1666, thousands of manuscripts were created, which were richly illustrated by their scribes and illuminators. The oldest surviving manuscripts date from the 12th century. The oldest illustrated Armenian Bible manuscript is kept in Jerusalem; it was created in 1269.
In the time of Catholicos Pilippos I. Aghbaketsi, an Armenian publishing house was founded in Amsterdam. Thus began the golden age of Armenian
letterpress. The first Armenian Bible was also printed during this period in 1666. The second edition of the Bible in classical Armenian was published in
year published 1805; it was followed by a revised edition in 1860.
In the mid-19th century, classic Armenian was replaced by colloquial «askharabar». There are two written versions of this, the so-called. «Eastern Armenian» and «Western Armenian». The former follows the Ararat dialect, the latter that of Constantinople.

In 1813 the Gospel of Matthew was translated from classical Armenian into Eastern Armenian, followed in 1843 by the New Testament. The New Testament was published in Greek in 1882 and the complete Bible in Hebrew and Greek in 1883. The revision of this complete Bible translation into modern Eastern Armenian was a work of the Armenian Bible Society. In 1994, on the initiative of the Catholicate of all Armenians in Echmiadzin and the Armenian Bible Society, a revision of the East Armenian Bible translation by Arsen Bagratuni (Venice 1860) was published. This edition of the Bible was reprinted several times between 1999 and 2012. It is the first official Bible edition of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It also contains the Old Testament books written in Greek, known as the Deuterocanonical books or "Apocrypha."

The Western Armenian translation of the Bible was printed in 1853.

Today there are numerous Bible editions in both Eastern and Western Armenian. A European Armenologist called the classic translation of the Bible into Armenian the “queen of all translations” – a nod to the accuracy and expressiveness of the Armenian language.

Arshavir Kapoudjian, Armenian Bible Society
Translation: Jutta Henner

Originally, the liturgical texts of the Armenian Church, as in many Eastern Churches, were limited to biblical vocabulary. The worship of God was such a sacred act that words of purely human origin were not considered appropriate. Early liturgical prayer consisted of the Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, and biblical passages. These remain the basic structural elements of the Armenian liturgy in the further development. The liturgy of the Armenian Church, as shaped into its basic elements in the fifth century, retained this tradition; and even in their present full form, a considerable number of the liturgical passages are drawn from Scripture. Every Sunday, before the New Testament readings, the Old Testament is read. It is read from almost all books of the Old Testament. The whole New Testament is read and the Gospels are read more than once a year. During Holy Week, as well as the fifty days after Easter, there are more scripture readings than at any other time of the liturgical year.

Some liturgical practices emphasize this reverence for the Word of God. In certain sections of the Eucharistic liturgy and in other services, the Holy Book of the Gospels, always touched with a clean cloth, is held up as a sign of praise and veneration. Whenever a priest, deacon, or member of the choir enters the pulpit, he kisses the gospel, which is always on the bema of the altar. The gospel is always on the altar table. At the end of a service, before the congregation leaves the church, the faithful approach the priest, who offers them the Gospel for blessing. The priest occasionally gives the blessing of the Holy Gospel.

Of course, all these actions have a symbolic meaning, they eloquently and suggestively indicate the deep spiritual devotion of the Armenian people to the Holy Scriptures. The power of the Word of God is thus recognized in a liturgical act.

Unfortunately, during most of the 20th century, the historical impact of the Bible on the lives of the Armenian people experienced a discouraging period. This happened largely because of the unspeakable persecutions and vicissitudes that the Armenian people have endured in recent history.

In the last generation, however, there are positive signs of a real awareness of the need to restore the historical place of the Bible in the Armenian Church and to rediscover and revitalize the spiritual richness of the Bible in the life of the Armenian people. The younger generation of clergy - being trained in the seminaries where biblical studies are receiving more and more attention - will hopefully be the main vehicle for the renewal of the biblical tradition in the Armenian Church in the new century. So are the Sunday schools, where the Bible is regularly read and studied.

The Bible and the Church cannot be separated. They were never apart. Even today, the Bible must be understood and lived in the context of the whole life of the Church, namely in the interrelated areas of Christian thought and witness: theology, spirituality, liturgy, mission and service.

READ THE BIBLE IN ARMENIAN

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Bible Online (Armenian & German):

THE BOOKS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS

The Bible is a collection of different individual writings and books. Its canon was confirmed by the Church Fathers at the National Ecclesiastical Council in Partav, in 768, under the presidency of the Catholicos Sion I of Bavon. The Armenian Bible includes the 39 (22) books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. There are also 11 late writings of the Old Testament called Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings.

law books

The first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy are also called the five books of Moses ("Pentateuch", ie "Five-Scroll Book"). These are the Old Testament books of law. Because here the history of the people of Israel is described from the very beginning to the liberation from slavery in Egypt. In Judaism, these books are referred to as “Torah” (instructions).

history books

The books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther tell the story of Israel from entering the Promised Land to the banishment and return the Babylonian exile. They are called history books.

Textbooks and poetic books

The Old Testament wisdom books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are memorable proverbs and advice. Poetic books include the Psalter (a collection of prayers and songs) and the Song of Songs (love and wedding songs).

books of prophets

Depending on the volume of the prophetic books, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Ezechel) are among the so-called Great Prophets. The twelve prophets Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are called "minor prophets." The Lamentations of Jeremiah and the book of Daniel were added later.

history books

The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the Acts of the Apostles tell of the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the spread of Christianity in the early communities. But they shouldn't be viewed as just history books. Rather, they are a transmission of the gospel, the good news of the risen Lord.

letters

The 21 Epistles, written by the Holy Apostles themselves or under their names to various Christian communities and to individuals, are an important collection of apostolic doctrine. The Apostolic Epistles are divided into two groups: the "Paul Epistles" and the "Catholic Epistles".

The revelation

A special prophetic New Testament book is the Revelation of the Holy Apostle John. Above all, apocalyptic visions of the end of the world are presented here, combined with the hope of a new heaven and a new earth.

Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings

The Jewish scholars determined which books constituted the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. Some books not included in this canon are known to us through the Greek tradition of the Old Testament. The Greek translation is known as the Septuagint. It was used not only by Greek-speaking Jews, but also by early Christians.

These books include Tobit, Judit, the Maccabees Books, the book of wisdom and Jesus Sirach, written in Greek additions to the book ester and to the book Daniel (including the well-known story of Susanna in the bath, which is often depicted in art), the book Baruch and the Letter to Jeremiah and the Prayer of Manasseh, that too 2 Chronicles 33, 12 heard.

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