ORIGINAL TITLE Title: Parzabanutyun Saghmosatsn Davti
TYPE: Book
COMPONENTS: 809 pages; first 9 pages are handwritten as well as the last pages. There are 10 wooden prints as well as manuscript notes concerning donations-one in the year 1699 and another dated 1744.
NOTES: 137th book ever printed in Armenian. Very rare. Nersessian 55, Kevorkian 84. 30 known copies. Voskanian 137
ITEM ID: 21
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Psalms of David

DATE
Year: 1687
Decade: 1680s
Century: 17th (1601-1700)

This is the 137th book and the second in Ashkharabar Armenian language in all Armenian printing history. Includes manuscripts concerning two donations, one in 1699 and the second in 1744.

According to scholar Sebouh Aslanian, “Very precious indeed. This 1687 Psalms of David was considered the first book in vernacular Armenian or civil Armenian but in some circles that is no longer the case. According to the conventional view espoused by Hrachea Acharean, this book (Parzabanut‘iwn hogenuak saghmosats‘n Davti [Psalms of David] printed in Venice in 1687 and largely authored/translated by Hovhannes Holov, aka Giovanni Agop) was the first book printed in vernacular Armenian. The consensus now seems to be that the “Arhest hamaroghut‘ean” (The Art of Arithmetic) published in Marseille twelve years earlier was indeed the first published book in Ashkharabar or the vernacular Armenian.

For the revisionist view, see Ishkhanyan, Hay girk‘ĕ, 65-66, and Pashayan, ‘Arhest hamaroghut‘ean’ě’ for a discussion on the relative merits of both views. It is interesting to note that even the vernacular commentary of the 1687 Psalter published in Venice was penned by Holov, thus making him the pioneer in the early genesis of writing in vernacular Armenian. The book was published at this merchant’s private press in Venice. His name was Nahapet Gulnazar Agulets‘i. I have his Italian language will from the Venice archives and find him quite fascinating and largely neglected.”

Haig Utidjian, “From what I can see, this psalter is in Classical Armenian, not modern Western Armenian. But each psalm is accompanied by a commentary, and that is written in Western Armenian. I do not unfortunately know this volume, but it would be very interesting to know who wrote the commentary. Commentaries on the psalter were important in Armenians, with massive commentaries by St. Nersēs of Lambron (unfortunately still unpublished) and by Fr. Mik’aēl Č’amč’ean (who is someone of whom our mutual friend Sebouh Aslanian knows a huge amount, not least the vicissitudes of a proscribed theological treatise that he composed – in addition to his famous, published History).

What a lovely little volume – not least for private study!”