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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

LETTER xxxi               A MORAL MODEL                           335

the insecurity of the roads, the villainous accommoda-
tion en route, and its isolated position account for the
neglect.1 Here as elsewhere I am much impressed
with the excellence of the work done by the American
missionaries, who are really the lights of these dark
places, and by their exemplary and honourable lives
furnish that moral model and standard of living which
is more efficacious than preaching in lifting up the lives-
of a people sunk in the depths of a grossly corrupted
Christianity. The boys' and girls' schools in Van are on
an excellent basis, and are not only turning out capable
men and women, but are stimulating the Armenians to

Their national church claims an older than an apostolic foundation, and
historically dates from the third century, its actual founder, S. Gregory
the Illuminator, having been consecrated at Csesarea as Bishop of Armenia
in the second year of the fourth century. In the fifteenth century a schism
brought about by Jesuit missionaries resulted in a number of Armenians
joining the Church of Rome, and becoming later a separate community
known as the "Catholic Armenian Church." Within the last half-century,
under the teaching of the American missionaries, a Reformed Church has
arisen, known as the Protestant Armenian Church, but with these exceptions
the race and the national church may be regarded as one. The Armenians
have had no political existence since the year 1604, but form an element
of stability and' wealth in Turkey, Russia, and Persia, where they are
principally found.

Their language is regarded by scholars as an off-shoot of the Iranian
branch of the Indo-Germanic group of languages. Their existing literature
dates from the fourth century, and all that is not exclusively Christian has
perished. Translations of the Old and New Testaments dating from the
fifth century are among its oldest monuments, and the dialect in which
they are written, and in which they are still read in the churches, known
as Old Armenian, is not now understood by the people. During the last
century there has been a great revival of letters among the Armenians,
chiefly due to the Mekhitarists of Venice, and a literature in modern
Armenian is rapidly developing alongside of the study and publication of
the works of the ancient writers.

1 It has, however, received due attention both from scholars and anti-
quaries, and among the popularly-written accounts of it are very interest-
ing chapters in Sir A. H. Layard's Nineveh and JBabylon, and in a charm-
ing volume by the Rev. H. F. Tozer, Turkish Armenia and Eastern Ada,