Mesrob

mashtotz) (c.361-440. Important figure in the history of Armenian culture and spirituality. According to the best sources “Mashtotz” is the more correct version of his name. His life is known from the biography by his pupil Korium (mid- fifth century). Mashtotz was a pupil of Nerses the Great (353- 73). He entered the royal service well versed in languages, became a monk in 390 or shortly afterward, and after a brief time in evangelism was the associate of Sahak III, whom he succeeded as patriarch. He died the following year. The main activity of his association with Sahak was in the field of translation of biblical and patristic writings; he was acquainted with Persian, Syriac, and Greek. The earliest tradition asserts that biblical translation was the basis of the Greek, but internal evidence shows strong Syriac influence. Similarly both traditions appear active in early patristic translation. For his work Mashtotz devised the Armenian alphabet, since Armenian had previously had no satisfactory means of transcription. Tradition asserts also that he was the inventor of the Georgian alphabet and of the alphabet of the Caucasian Albanians (of which few traces remain). Although these traditions have been contested, they rest on early evidence before the Armenian-Georgian schism and the destruction of the Albanians. Even the Armenian alphabet alone indicates the knowledge and acumen of Mashtotz.