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Abstract

The Albanian Protestant Movement has both a theological and a geographical origin. Theologically, the movement could only begin after parts of the Bible were translated into Albanian, because the Protestant doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” demands that believers understand the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, in Protestant missions to the Ottoman Empire, Bible translators usually preceded evangelists and the founding of churches. In 1827, the publication of the first Albanian New Testament was a significant achievement, but it was practically useless to most Albanians, who were illiterate (especially in their mother tongue). Hence, the Protestant missionary endeavor included linguistic and educational efforts to help Albanians learn to read their new Bibles. Geographically, the Albanian Protestant Movement originated in Bitola, where, in 1873, American missionaries arrived and began interacting with the Kyrias family. Gerasim Kyrias—Albania's first Protestant reformer—became a Protestant in Bitola, studied theology in Samokov, preached in Bulgarian in Skopje, preached in Albanian in Bitola, was married and ordained as an evangelist in Salonica, and then began an Albanian school and church in Kortcha. From these theological and geographical origins, Protestantism grew into one of Albania’s traditional faith communities.

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