The Armenian Alphabet
alphabet are essential for the survival of a nation's
history and customs. Its identity and uniqueness. In the 4th
century this was recognized by the royal court and the
Alphabet was invented by Mesrob Mashdotz in 405 AD. The
original purpose was to translate the Bible. The alphabet is
composed as a prayer, beginning with A as Astvats (God) and
ending with K' as K'ristos (Christ). The original alphabet
had only 36 letters. Later, three more characters were
Mesrob Mashdotz was born
in the village of Hatzegatz in the province of
Daron some time in the late 4th century. His
father, Vartan, sent him to learn Greek
literature when he was a child. He became a
monk He loved God. With his students he
traveled to far away provinces converting people
to Christianity. During his travels he
recognized the necessity of an alphabet to
translate the Bible so that people will be able
to read and understand it.
Mashdotz went to his spiritual father, Catholicos
Sahag. They called a special council of priests to
see what might be done to develop an alphabet for
Armenia , since they would need to read and learn in
their own tongue. Even Vramshabouh, the King of
Armenia, was asked to help. A new set of letters had
to be found.
the blessings of the King and Catholicos Sahag,
Mashdotz sent his pupils on a mission; some were to
learn Syriac in Edessan schools while others were
sent to Samosata to learn Greek. These were the two
languages in which Armenians of the time learned
about God. These were the alphabets used in worship
and in Bible reading.
Mashdotz withdrew from the world and prayed day and
night for help from God. It seemed an impossible
task to devise an alphabet out of absolutely
nothing, to create written letters for the beautiful
sounds of his beloved tongue. Only God could create!
Saint Mesrob, who had given his entire life to the
service of his people and was praying now for God's
help to make it just a little bit easier. They
came to him in a vision. In it he saw a hand writing
the letters on a rock.
Mashdotz found a Greek scribe, Roupanos, who was
able to draw all the letters with the right curves
and lines. He gathered his pupils together at
once to translate the Holy Scriptures into the new
written Armenian. They began with the proverbs of
Solomon. Not surprisingly, the first words written
in the brand new Armenian letters were, as tradition
tells us, “that men may know wisdom and instruction,
understand words of insight.
gospel was being read, written, taught in Armenian!
Though the people of this land had been visited by
the great Illuminator, Gregory, less than a hundred
years before, they had not yet taken the faith into
their hearts. And how could they have! How could
they have made their own a faith that was
articulated in the sounds and letters of other
lands? Now they were beginning to worship, read
Scripture, and learn all the profound concepts of
their faith for the first time.