International Symposium Dedicated to 350th Anniversary of Printing of the Bible in Armenian

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – 11/10/16

On October 6, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; the International Symposium on “Armenian Translation of the Holy Bible and Its Publication in the Evolution of History” was opened in the Events Auditorium of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The Conference was jointly organized by the Gevorkian Theological Seminary and the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library. In attendance were 32 Armenian and foreign historians and theologians from Armenia, Russia, Georgia, France, Great Britain, the United States and Canada; members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, Gevorkian Seminarians, and other invited guests.

To open the Conference, His Grace Bishop Gevork Saroyan, Dean of the spiritual and educational institutions of Mother See; read the Pontifical Encyclical issued by the Catholicos of All Armenians for the 350th anniversary.

Rev. Fr. Karekin Hambardzumyan, Dean of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary; and Rev. Fr. Ararat Poghosyan, Director of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library; gave opening remarks.

“The phenomenon of Voskan of Yerevan made the impossible possible for our people during a difficult historical juncture. Heretofore, the Holy Bible, which was only kept in monasteries and churches, and by some rich merchants, became available to the public. In addition to the Psalms, the individual Christian could have his own copy of the Bible and make it part of his daily reading and reflection material,” stated Father Karekin.

…the 17th century for the Armenians started with forcible evacuation; the country was again divided between the bordering states. And so, Voskan of Yerevan, inspired by the activity of the Holy Translators of Holy Etchmiadzin, undertook the task to preserve the Armenian as an Armenian through his own power of God’s life-giving word.

… Today, Holy Etchmiadzin and the Armenian Pontificate highlight the works of Voskan of Yerevan not only as a historic event or cultural heritage, but as grace granted by Almighty God”, stated Father Karekin adding that Bible-scientific conferences provide an opportunity to once again examine the Holy Bible and further solidify faith in Sacred Traditions.

Father Karekin expressed his gratitude to His Holiness for the assistance provided in organizing the conference.

Father Ararat reflected on the wonder of the 350th anniversary of the printing of the Armenian language Bible and stated: “Indeed, the 350th anniversary of the printing of the Bible in Armenia provides not only a serious opportunity to only sincerely assess the glorious Armenian culture but also re-evaluate the unique cultural value of the Holy Bible translation itself.

This memorable occasion unites all of us in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary and the Library of Holy Etchmiadzin, to re-examine the distinguished Armenian people and their works, particularly to consider the qualities and great works implemented by Voskan of Yerevan.

… During the period between the Guttenberg version and the Armenian Bible, all efforts addressed at printing the Holy Bible failed for nearly one and a half centuries. However in 1666, due to the boundless dedication of Catholicos Jacob IV of Jugha, Deacon Matthew Tsareci, Avetis Ghlichents, Archimandrite Karapet Adrianatsi, Archimandrite Voskan of Yerevan and other key people, they were able to complete the task. And by their perception, the Armenian Bible printing was closely connected to the spiritual enlightenment of the Armenian people and processes aimed at achieving political freedom.

And yes, the Voskan Bible is a great and unprecedented work from the printing-technical point of view. And, indeed, after this publication the history of Armenian literature can be divided into “Before and after Voskan”. The life of Voskan of Yerevan symbolized an eternal struggle for illumination, a better life, and for the sake of Armenian education, writing and communication”.

During the three-day Conference, sessions will be held in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library, and the final days in the St. Mesrop Mashtots School and Scientific Cultural Center of Oshakan.

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