It is a rare thing when a national culture is revolutionized by a small group of scholars. But that is exactly what happened in 5th-century Armenia, through the efforts of the Holy Translators. The leaders of the movement—Catholicos Sahag Partev and Mesrob Mashdots—truly gambled when they imagined creating an Armenian version of the Bible.
(Mesrob Mashdots by the artist Ashod Zorian)
But their risk paid off. The unique Armenian alphabet they devised for the Bible was quickly deployed to translate great works of theology, philosophy, and history. As a result, literate Armenians were able to connect, as never before, with the great minds of the past: to absorb the wisdom of other cultures, and the lessons of other times.
Far from narrowing the worldview of Armenians, the Holy Translators broadened it, transforming it into a heritage which could—and would—defy the swords of invaders, endure calamity and dispersion, while aspiring to the highest forms of the arts and humanities.
That is the spirit the Translators laid down some 16 centuries ago. And it is a spirit we celebrate today, on the feast day dedicated to St. Sahag and St. Mesrob: a spirit born from a love of Christ, and expressed in treasures of faith, culture, and language that Armenian Christians can still pass on to their children and grandchildren.
Click on the following links to read more about their story http://www.armenianchurch-ed.net/wpblog/2015/06/the-holy-translators-sahag-mesrob/
and to read an article by historian Robert Louis Wilken http://www.getprinciples.com/may-2015/
in which he discusses how the early spread of the Christian faith depended on literacy and language, and touches on the contribution of Mesrob Mashdots.