Second Bible Printed in Armenian
The second bible ever printed in Armenian, printed in Constantinople. In the eighteenth century, the main center of Armenian printing moved from Europe to Constantinople. After works published in Constantinople by Abgar Dpir T’okhat’ets’i, there was an hiatus of a hundred years. During the eighteenth, century more than twenty printers were active in the Ottoman capital. Some of the most famous were the engraver-printer Grigor Marzvanets’i, Astuatsatur of Constantinople, Step’anos Petrosian and the Arabian family. The printers of Constantinople played a very appreciable role in the diffusion of Armenian culture. For the first time, a series of the important works of ancient Armenian historians and philosophers was published, such as “History of the Armenians” by Agat’angeghos in 1709, “Treatise on Logic” by Siméon of Julfa, the “History” attributed to P’awstos Buzand, “Book of Questions” by Eghishé, and works by the famous Armenian rhetor and poet Paghtasar Dpir.
Commentary by Sebouh Aslanian, Professor of history at UCLA:
The rare 1705 edition printed on the press of a certain Petros Latinats‘i (Peter the Latin). This press was one of several Armenian-Catholic printing establishments in the Ottoman capital. The 1,158 page edition of the Bible was an exact replica of Oscan Yerevants‘i’s masterpiece but probably not the same pagination since a smaller font (6 point bolorgir for this versus 10 point bolorgir for Amstedam copy) was used, I think. It is interesting to note that the fonts used to print it were also from Amsterdam and once belonging to Oscan’s establishment and taken to Marseille in 1672 and thence to Istanbul/Constantinople by the widow of Oscan’s nephew Salomon de Leon (Soghomon Levonean), the provençale woman Marguerite Chave and her business partner and erstwhile merchant from New Julfa, Simon Georgi. According to Raymond Kévorkian (“L’imprimerie Surb Ējmiacin et Sargis Zōravar et le conflit entre Arméniens et Catholiques a Constantinople” (1695-1718) REA (1981), 416), the mysterious Petros Latinats‘i identified as the owner of the press where the 1705 Bible was printed, was possibly Simon Georgi himself. The colophon is laconic: “Ի յօրինակս հնոյ տպեցեալ. լուսաւորեալ հոգի Ոսկան վարդապետի յար եւ նման ոչ աւելի եւ ոչ նուազ. սակայն մանր գրով: Ի տպարանս ազգականի նոյնոյ ոսկանի վարդապետի Լադինացւոյ Պետրոսի. Ի մայրաքաղաքն Ստամպօլ ղալաթիայ ի թաղն պէկօղլի կոչեցեալ: Վերջ “A simulacrum or exact copy of the old version printed by the blessed soul Oscan the Archimandrite, but in minuscule letters. [Published] at the printing press of Petros the Latin, the relation of the same Oscan the archimandrite at the capital of Stambol [Istanbul] in Galata at the neighborhood called Beyoglu.” I believe this edition is extremely rare, James Melikian, probably more rare than the Amsterdam edition and therefore probably much more expensive.
Hand written colophon of one of the first owners of these wonderful Holy Scriptures: Յիշատակ է այս Աստուածաշունչս Բենկացի կարապետի որդի սառաֆ խաչատուրին եւ իւր որդուքն պետրոսին ՞՞ զայս ծախիւք … սորայ զամս տացմանն՞՞ եղեւ ի թվին Հայոց ՌՃԶԷ [1197+551=1748] ին Աստուած վայելումն տացէ ովոք հանդիպի սայ կադալով մին հայր մեղայ ասասցէ եւ զմեզ յիշէսցէ յիշեալ լիջի առաջի անմահ գառինն աստուծոյ Ամեն 1748 These Holy Scriptures are in remembrance of the son of Karapet of Benka*, Sarraf Khachatur and his son Petros. The year in which they gave this was in 1197 of the Armenian calendar [+551=1748]. May the person,upon reading this, says a prayer and remembers us, , be himself remembered before the immortal Lamb of God, Amen. 1748. *Benka/Բենկաis a town on the shores of the Euphrates river in the vilayet of Kharpert/Harput about 35 km from the city of Agn/eğin. The region was known during the eighteenth century for its predominantly Armenian amira “sarrafs” or bankers/money lenders who had effective networks in the Ottoman capital and controlled much of the empire’s finances. The donors of this printed Bible are identified as a sarraf named Khachatur (son of Karapet) and his son Petros who appear to have gifted this treasure to a priest in 1748, or a little after forty years following its printing in Istanbul. I cannot identify the name of this owner but he seems to have been a married (non-celibate) priest because his wife’s name is given as Néné khatun on the torn fragment of paper included in this Bible.
Rare and beautiful objects related to spirituality.