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Armenia is located at the border of Europe and Asia in the Caucasus region. It is a landlocked state surrounded by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenia is home to a small population of just under 3 million. However, it has not always been the largely poverty-stricken country that it now is. Its current condition is largely the continuing result of a major earthquake in 1988 and war with Azerbaijan (1988-1994) over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, a conflict which remains unresolved.
Christianity in Armenia
A little known fact is that Armenia was the first country to establish Christianity as its state religion, which it did in 301 A.D. The Armenian Apostolic Church was, according to tradition, set up by two of Jesus’s disciples, Thaddaeus and Bartholomew, hence its name. Adherents of the Orthodox church make up over 90% of the country’s professing Christians today.
The Bible in Armenia
The Bible was first translated into the classical Armenian language, known as Grabar, by a monk, Mesrop Mashdots, who invented the Armenian alphabet in order to translate the Bible. Work on this early Bible took place from 396–430 A.D. The Old Testament was translated from the Septuagint, though modified by the Masoretic Hebrew text, and the New Testament from the Syriac text. For centuries the classical Armenian Bible was copied by hand. The first printed edition was produced in Amsterdam in the 1660s. However, this edition is beyond the reach of the ordinary people, being a language only scholars can read.
The TBS Armenian Bible
In 1998 the Society commissioned an Armenian couple to revise the classical Bible of 405 A.D., bringing it into closer conformity to the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts, using current literary Eastern Armenian. The Gospel according to John was first published in 1999, followed by the New Testament in 2005 and the entire Bible in 2012.
Since 2012 there has been great demand for the TBS Armenian Bible and it has been reprinted several times. Over 50,000 copies have now been published. Even before the Scriptures enter the country, Armenian customs officials have gladly received a copy of the Bible in their own language, and multiple requests for Bibles are received daily within Armenia. Many encouraging reports have been received of the Lord using His Word to convert Armenian people. In this land in which so many people have so very little the hunger and thirst for the Word of God is very great.