Oskan Bible


The Oskan Bible of 1666 is the first complete printed Bible in Armenian. It takes its name from Oskan Erewants‘i (Oskan of Yerevan, 1614‒74), an expatriate from Armenia who, with the help of wealthy Armenian patrons, founded an influential and important press in Amsterdam for the purpose of printing books in his native language. The books produced by the press were intended mainly for export to the Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire and Iran. Oskan based the text of his Bible on a single manuscript copied in 1295 for King Het’um II of the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (now preserved in the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, or Matenadaran, in Yerevan). Evidence provided by Oskan himself and examination of the work indicates that he also edited the text. The book consists of 1,462 double pages with 159 illustrations by the Dutch artist Christoffel van Sichem (1581‒1658). Van Sichem’s illustrations are signed with his initials “V.S.”  At the beginning of his edition, Oskan placed a eulogy in praise of Catholicos Hakob IV Jughayetsi (of New Julfa, 1598‒1680). He also included the prefaces and introductions to the books of the Bible written by Saint Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate. At the end of the work is an extensive and detailed colophon addressed to the readers in which Oskan explains that he edited the Bible to bring the verses, chapters, and numberings in accord with the Western translations.

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Publication Information

Tparan St. Ejmiatsin and St. Sargis the General, Amsterdam

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Physical Description

628, 834 pages : illustrations (woodcuts) ; 26 centimeters


  1. Levon Avdoyan, To Know Wisdom and Instruction: A Visual Survey of the Armenian Literary Tradition from the Library of Congress (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2012).
  2. Vrej Nersessian, The Bible in the Armenian Tradition (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001).

Last updated: July 28, 2017