Top of page

About this Item


  • [Four Gospels]


  • This Gospel book is the earliest of the Armenian manuscripts in the collections of Library of Congress. It contains the text of the Gospels, copied in the year 770 of the Armenian era (1321) by Nerses the Abbot in Jerusalem. The manuscript is unadorned except for headpieces at the start of each Gospel and decorative devices in the margins, all in red, black, and brown ink. The text is in two columns on ruled paper. There are some marginal pen-drawn decorations and later written marginalia. The manuscript has one marginal miniature--that of an infant. The original incised leather binding is in damaged condition. Colophons throughout indicate the history of the manuscript, which at the turn of the 20th century was in the hands of the Library of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The Bible was first translated into Armenian in the early fifth century, shortly after the invention of the Armenian alphabet between 407 and 412. The history of the translation of the Armenian Bible is complicated. By tradition it has been ascribed to Mesrob Mashtots (circa 361-440), the creator of the Armenian alphabet, and Isaac (Sahak) the Catholicos (died 439) and their assistants. The work was completed before the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431. This manuscript is an awetaran, the copying of the four gospels alone, which was a very popular genre among the Armenians. World Digital Library.


  • Kirakos (Priest), former owner
  • Nersēs, Abegha, active 14th century, scribe
  • Pʻillipos (Priest), former owner
  • Bush, Caroline E., 1847-1919, associated name
  • Foster, Henry, 1821-1901, former owner
  • Minasean, Khachʻatur H., Hoghecʻi, former owner

Created / Published

  • 1321


  • -  [Jerusalem]
  • -  Binding: stamped brown goat leather over boards; right corner of front cover and lower part of backstrip have been broken off. Nail holes on front and back cover, indicating that at one time the covers had silver crosses. Red and blue linen doublures. Two paper fly leaves in back from an older ms. Lectionary; the second leaf is partially torn. Both leaves have text in bolorgir (rounded letters).
  • -  Each Gospel begins with table of contents (tsʻutsʻakkʻ)
  • -  Illustrations: pen-drawn decorations; initials; miniatures of evangelists lacking.
  • -  Ink: red, black (carbon), and brown.
  • -  Manuscript text.
  • -  Principal colophon (folios 281v-284) the manuscript was written at Jerusalem by the scribe Nersēs Abegha [Monk] in A.E. 770 (=A.D. 1321).
  • -  Text in 2 columns; 13 x 8 cm.; ruled paper; marginal decorations; some later written marginalia.
  • -  Also available in digital form.
  • -  In Armenian.
  • -  Accompanied by letter to Dr. H. Foster from Mary P. Wright, dated July 22, 1891: MS. "presented you by Miss Bush." This is most likely Caroline E. Bush who spent many years as a missionary to the Armenians at the Harpoot Station of the American Board of Commisioners for Foreign Missions.
  • -  As recorded in a modern hand the book was purchased by a priest named Pʻillipos from a priest Kirakos. It was later owned by Khachʻatur H. Minasean Hoghecʻi.
  • -  Bookplate, inside back cover: "Library of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 156 Fifth Avenue, New York. Class 727. Book Ar B1.7. For Reference. Presented by Dr. and Mrs. Henry Foster."
  • -  Note accompanying ms.: "Presented to Presbyterian Missionary Library by Dr. Henry Foster and Mrs. Mary E. Foster Clifton Springs N.Y."; LC acquisitions date stamp appears on this note: Oct 22 1959.
  • -  Near East scanned


  • 284 leaves : paper ; 17 x 25 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • BS95.5 .F6 1321

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2014373015

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress believes that most of the materials in this collection are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

The exception is the materials from the Africana Historic Postcard Collection. Some items in that collection may be rights-restricted.

Credit Line

Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:

Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Division, Armenian Rarities

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Kirakos , Former Owner, Abegha Nersēs, Former Owner PʻIllipos, Caroline E Bush, Henry Foster, and KhachʻAtur H Minasean. Four Gospels. 1321. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Kirakos, F. O., Nersēs, A., PʻIllipos, F. O., Bush, C. E., Foster, H. & Minasean, K. H. (1321) Four Gospels. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Kirakos , Former Owner, et al. Four Gospels. 1321. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.