Elias Riggs

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Elias Riggs

Elias Riggs (1810–1901) was an American Presbyterian missionary and linguist born in New Providence, New Jersey. During his missionary activities in the Ottoman Empire he contributed greatly to the Bulgarian National Revival, and organized the first translation (by Neofit Rilski), and worked on editing, printing and dissemination of a translation of the Bible into modern Bulgarian. Riggs did research on Chaldee Language, and also guided the translation of the Bible into modern Armenian language.[1]

The government and church of newly independent Greece originally opposed Riggs' mission, but later had to accept American and British Protestant activities among Christians other than Greeks. Riggs took part in negotiations identifying the then actual ethnic delimitation between Greeks and Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire, resulting in an approximate line drawn between Serres and Edessa in Macedonia north of which the Christian population was recognized as predominantly Bulgarian. Subsequently, the 1876 Constantinople Conference of the Great Powers confirmed that early delimitation in its more comprehensive definition of ethnic Bulgarian lands as of the late 19th century.[1]


Riggs Peak on Smith Island, South Shetland Islands is named after Elias Riggs.


  1. ^ a b Georgi Genov. American Elias Riggs and his contribution to the Bulgarian National Revival. Historical Archives. Sofia, Issue 9-10, November 2000 - May 2001. (in Bulgarian)