Armenia officially adopted Christianity at the beginning of the fourth century. In fact, the first book to be translated into the Armenian language was the Bible, known as Astuadsashuntch, or "breath of God." Specifically, it was translated by the Patriarch-Catholicos St. Sahak and his assistant Mesrop Mashtots at the beginning of the fifth century.
There are four types of scripts in which the Armenian alphabet was represented since it was originally created for the first translation of the Bible. Erkatagir (iron letters), of which this twelfth-century manuscript is an example, was used from the fifth to the thirteenth century and is still employed for epigraphic inscriptions. Bolorgir (cursive) was introduced in the tenth century and became popular in the thirteenth. Notrgi was extensively used in the Armenian diaspora in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, and later became popular in printing. And the fourth script is Sheghagir (slanted writing), currently the most common form.
A colophon on folio 275 indicates that this manuscript was written in the church of the Mother of God in Edessa (Urfa) in 1161 by the priest Vasil from an exemplar written by Kostandin Urfayetsi and commissioned by Kristapcor and his wife Aygots. Edessa is located 50 miles east of Hromklay, which would become the patriarchate of the Armenian Church in 1166.
The decoration of this manuscript shows clear signs of Byzantine influence, particularly in the portraits and the pages beginning each gospel. Above we see Mark sitting before his desk with two simple flat colors as a background. The facing headpiece has the shape of an I followed by a large initial letter underneath.
According to a colophon on page 276, this manuscript was rebound in 1697 by the deacon Yovannes Marzuantsi at the church of Charkhapan Surb Astuadsadsin in Amasya (Turkey). The binding consists of blind-tooled leather over boards, with a diaper pattern and floret borders. The front cover is decorated with studs that form a cross with an arc above, surrounded by a frame.