Mesrop also called Mashtoz, the noted translator of the Armenian version of the Bible, was born in the latter half of the 4th century in a small village of the province Taron. He was at first secretary of the Armenian patriarch Nerses the Great, and afterwards became his minister of ecclesiastical affairs. After filling this position seven years, he went into a convent, but, failing to find any satisfaction there, he went into a desert, where he gathered about him a number of young men as scholars. Under the government of the patriarch Isaak (Sa'ak) the Great (AD. 390-440) Mesrop was commissioned to preach as missionary, for which position he was especially fitted by his thorough knowledge of foreign languages. He now found need of an Armenian version of the Scriptures, the version of the clergy being in the Syriac, a language but little understood by the populace. After having spent several years in the arduous task, and that with but little show of success, he resolved to throw himself upon the mercy of his Lord and God, and seek at his hands the wisdom and knowledge required for the successful accomplishment of his undertaking. Nor did he wait long for answer to his prayer. While sojourning at Samosata, we are told, he was led to see the different types engraved in a rock, and that he could remember every single letter so plainly that he was able to describe them to the distinguished calligraph Rufanus, who finally composed the desired alphabet. He immediately commenced the gigantic work of translating the Bible from the Greek into the Armenian, a version which was introduced afterwards into that part of Armenia governed by his king Vramshapuh. By request of other sovereigns, he made also translations for the Georgian and Albanian countries. A change in the government obliged him to quit Persian territory, and he sought a new home in Grecian Armenia, where he continued his activity under the special protection of the emperor Theodosius of Constantinople and the patriarch Atticus. In spite of the severe crusades against the members of the new religion, he continued to inspire his scholars and friends with confidence in their final success, and defeated several times the various attempts to introduce idolatry in the practices of a pure Catholic religion. One of his later great works was the translation of the liturgical books of the Greeks into the modern Armenian language. After the death of his old companion Isaak I, Misrop was elected patriarch of Armenia, but he died the next year, February 19, 441. A critical edition of Mesrop's translation of the Bible appeared in Venice in 1805, in four volumes. As an energetic and scientific man, Mesrop ranks among the most important combatants of the Christian religion in the early centuries, when the communication of the new religion met especially with great obstacles in the East for want of written languages. Mesrop furthered literature among his countrymen not only by his own literary productions, but by founding " a whole school of remarkable thinkers and writers, that created what is called 'the golden period' for the enlightenment of ancient Armenia" (Malan). See Naumann, Versuch einer Gesch. d. Armenischen Lit. (Leips. 1836, 8vo); Quadro della storia letteraria di Armenia estesa da Mons Placido Tukias Somal. etc. (Yen. 1829), p. 14.sq.; Quadro delle opere di vari autori anticamente tradotte in Armeno (Ven. 1825), p. 7-9; Goriund, Life of St. Mesrop; Malan, Life and Times of Gregory the Illuminator, etc. (Lond. 1868, 8vo), p. 28 sq. SEE ARMENIAN VERSION. (J. H.W.)

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