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Slavic truth

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Slavic truth

Christian doctrine, the very history of Christ and His disciples came to Russia through the translation of Holy Scripture into the language of Slavic tribes. The history of the Slavic Bible is full of mysteries and unexpected plot twists. Candidate of Philological Sciences Alexander Kravetsky spoke about them in a lecture from the series “Ancient Texts in the Modern World”, delivered at the Feodorovsky Cathedral.


Saints Cyril (in the world Constantine, nicknamed the Philosopher; 827–869) and Methodius (in the world Michael; 815–885) are brothers from the city of Soluni (now Thessaloniki), Byzantine missionaries, creators of the Old Slavonic alphabet and Church Slavonic, translators of the Holy Scriptures into the Slavic language.

Saints Cyril (in the world Constantine, nicknamed the Philosopher; 827–869) and Methodius (in the world Michael; 815–885) are brothers from the city of Soluni (now Thessaloniki), Byzantine missionaries, creators of the Old Slavonic alphabet and Church Slavonic, translators of Holy Scripture in Slavic tongue.

Scripture is the foundation of Christian doctrine, and the gospel call “Go, Teach All the Nations” (Matthew 28:19) implies that it should be preached throughout the world. Two practical questions arise. First: how much Scripture should be preached? Since technically teaching the whole world a text of such a volume in the era before printing was quite difficult. And second: in what language? Or languages?

First, the first question. When we say “the Bible” (“we” are people from the era of printing), we imagine a thick book that begins with the Book of Genesis and ends with the Apocalypse. Meanwhile, in this form, the Bible became public 200 years ago or a little more. Before the era of printing, before the era of cheap paper, any widespread dissemination of a code of this volume was hardly possible. Imagine a herd of young bulls whose skins are needed to make writing material for just one biblical list.

Therefore, Scripture was distributed primarily in the form of samples, fragments that were read during the service. This is the official Gospel, or the Gospel of Apracos, where the usual presentation is absent and fragments are collected in the order of their reading during the church year. It does not begin with the Gospel of Matthew, but with the Easter Gospel, with the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John. For the Greco-Byzantine tradition, the Old Testament is a paremiic, that is, a collection of Old Testament readings that were read at worship. Apostle – in the form of a service Apostle. And so on.

In the Life of St. Cyril, the creator of Slavic writing and translator from Greek to Slavic, in the story about the creation of the alphabet it looks like this. When Cyril was sent to preach to the Slavs and he found out that they did not have an alphabet, he got up to prayer, letters were opened to him, and he began to translate: “In the beginning, the Word” (John 1: 1). If he began to translate the Gospel, he would begin to translate from the Gospel of Matthew. And life tells us that just the official Gospel, which really begins with the Gospel of John, was translated.

And the second point: in what language should the scripture be read? Obviously, for the New Testament Church, the question of the existence of certain sacred languages ​​was not raised. The Miracle of Pentecost, “speaking with tongues,” shows the linguistic universality of the gospel. And indeed, in the rules of Ecumenical Councils – but, in fact, what do we have from normative documents? – about the language we will not find anything. In the writings of the Church Fathers this question is either not at all raised, or is posed, rather, from a general cultural, stylistic point of view.

The idea of ​​language restriction appears only after the Church becomes a large international organism and there is a need to monitor the purity of the doctrine throughout the territory where Christianity is preached. And the church authorities realized that if the Scriptures were distributed everywhere in local languages, then the opportunity to control the purity of the creed would be lost. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures for a long time existed in the form of a single Latin and Greek corps, which can be protected from substantial damage. And further on, the priests in the localities, to the best of their ability, explain and interpret Scripture in national languages.

So, on the one hand, the problem of languages ​​is not a theological, not an essential problem, and, on the other hand, it is clear that for some legal and organizational reasons the restriction of translations into local languages ​​for the first millennium of the Church’s existence was quite obvious and reasonable.


The Slavic alphabet was created in 863 (or by 863), when a delegation of the Moravian prince Svyatopolk came to Byzantium with a request … With what request – this is a debatable issue. In the Life of Cyril it is said that ambassadors came to Constantinople and said that Christianity was preached to them, that they were baptized, but a good teacher, preacher and bishop were needed. It is understood that the key word here is most likely “bishop”. The speech, most likely, was about church independence. But Life emphasizes the enlightening moment, that Cyril and Methodius were sent to Moravia to translate liturgical texts and Scripture.

It is not very clear whether it is so or not. Because, in a strange way, sending missionaries to Moravia, Byzantium completely forgets about them. There is no mention of this undoubtedly successful mission. When Patriarch Photius (according to the Life of Cyril, a mission took place on his initiative), a friend of Cyril, at the end of his life, wrote down that good was done with him, he does not mention any Slavic translations. It seems that Cyril and Methodius were sent either as preachers or as diplomats, and the translations were rather their personal initiative, which Patriarch Photius and Constantinople did not at all consider to be their merit.

According to the Life, before going to Moravia from Thessalonica, Constantine (Cyril) created the alphabet and translated the official Gospel. The preaching in Moravia continued for 40 months. This is the time during which the students who were able to serve in Slavic language were prepared and some books for worship were translated. At the same time, the brothers could not ordain the disciples, because Constantine (Cyril) was a monk, and Methodius was a hieromonk.

And since Moravia was in the jurisdiction of Rome, the brothers went there to ask for blessings for their translations. In Rome, they were received with great honor, because during his previous travels, Constantine (Cyril) gained in the Chersonesos, in Crimea, the relics of St. Clement, Pope of Rome, and arrived with them in the City. The pope blesses the translations and ordains Methodius to the bishop, and now he can ordain the disciples himself. In Rome, Constantine, who took the schema under the name Cyril, dies. And Methodius returns as a bishop to Moravia, where, together with his students, translates texts from Greek to Slavic.

According to the Life, Methodius translated the complete Bible, except for the Book of Maccabees. But this is also a moot point. The Methodius translation of the complete Bible has not reached us. Scientists have made the reconstruction of individual books, and regarding them it is believed that this is a Methodius translation.


Cyril created not the usual Cyrillic alphabet, but a verb. Why do we say that Cyril created the Slavic alphabet when we do not use it? Because the creation of writing, the creation of the alphabet is not the invention of the shape of letters, but the creation of a minimum set of characters with which you can convey all phonemes, all sounds of a given language. And the merit of Cyril is that he created this system. And then it’s already possible to change the glagolitic into Cyrillic, Latin, dancing people … Glagolitic is an invented rational missionary alphabet. It is clear that "az" is a cross. It is possible that the elements of the letter “b”, as the first letter of the word “God,” contain the symbolism of two fingers and the sign of the Cross: the triple element symbolizes the Trinity, the dual symbolizes the nature of the Savior. The letters “and” and “c”, under the titles of the name of Jesus, form a symmetrical figure. Obviously, the creator of the alphabet was trying to somehow sort out theological ideas. Unfortunately, apparently, it will never be possible to decipher the glagolitic, because it is not clear on what grounds this can be done.


Methodius prepared and ordained some disciples. But two years later he died. And immediately after this, the Slavic worship in Moravia was defeated. Some students were expelled, some were sold into slavery, and it seemed that the Slavic worship had ceased forever. But just at that time, Bulgaria and its king Boris dreamed of emancipation from Byzantium, and the disciples of Methodius found refuge in it. Slavic writing was revived already in Bulgaria, where on the initiative from above, a liturgical reform was being prepared: the transition of worship from Greek to Slavic.

The Church Slavonic language is created by Cyril, a Greek by birth, on the basis of the South Slavic Solunian dialects that he knew. However, for the first time, worship in this language begins to take place in Moravia, that is, among the Western Slavs. They are also Slavs: the language is close, but still a little different. Then the disciples of Methodius – naturally, the inhabitants of Moravia – move to the southern Slavs in Bulgaria. The language, which has already absorbed these Moravian features, is again placed in a close but different language environment. From Bulgaria, transfers in different ways then come to the East Slavs.

This language immediately arises not as a written fixation of the language of one or another Slavic people, but as a pan-Slavic literary language, primarily as a pan-Slavic liturgical language. It is for everyone, on the one hand, relatively close and understandable. On the other hand, a backfill question: how did the Slavs understand the services of the times of Cyril and Methodius? We can only fantasize about this. The only thing that can be said with confidence is that literary, written, liturgical language is always slightly different from the spoken one. Otherwise it just doesn’t happen. At home with children and during a public lecture we speak differently. So Church Slavonic turned out to be a literary or liturgical functional style of Slavic languages.

Already under the son of Tsar Boris, Bulgarian Tsar Simeon, in 893, a Council was convened in which the Slavic language was declared in Bulgaria the official language of the state and the Church. For the first time, this becomes not a private initiative of the missionaries Cyril and Methodius, but a certain state project. In Bulgaria, books are being translated and copied actively, openly and with state support.


One more problem. Books are corresponded. The older generation, who still found samizdat copies of literary texts, perfectly remember a huge number of typos, including monstrous, even with typewritten copying. It is clear that when copying books by hand, the number of errors should accumulate. Someone was mistaken, someone did not understand, the next one rewritten or corrected according to his own understanding. It would seem that the text over several centuries and with dozens of scribes should greatly change. However, this does not happen, because the problem was quickly realized.

Various techniques arise for monitoring the stability and quality of the text being rewritten. This was apparently done as follows: in front of the copyist there are two originals, he looks, and with different interpretations he thinks and makes some decision about which of the two lists is correct. The result is a strange thing. By about the 17th century, rewritten texts became much more stable and unified than older texts, among which there is a Moravian edition, there is a Bulgarian edition, there is a Russian one. But gradually confusion occurs, and just in time for the external unification that typography provides, a leveled, unified text arises on the basis of different, different versions of one another, without vivid textual differences.


Saint Gennady Gonzov (1410–1505), archimandrite of the Chudov Monastery in Moscow in the 1470–1480s, was appointed archbishop of Novgorod and Pskov in 1484. Together with the Rev. Joseph Volotsky, he fought against the heresy of the Judaizers, insisting on the introduction in Russia of practices like the Spanish Inquisition. It is this problem that most of the epistles of the archbishop who have reached us are devoted to. A circle was formed at his court, which included Deacon Gerasim Popovka, translator and diplomat Dmitry Gerasimov, brothers Yuri and Dmitry Trahaniotov and Dominican monk Veniamin. The Word Briefly came out of this circle in defense of church property, an introduction to Easter, the discourse “On the Seventh Thousand Years,” a series of translations, and, of course, the first
Russian full biblical code – "Gennadievskaya Bible."

After the Baptism of Russia, the texts of Scripture come to Russia. In any form? First of all, these were service versions of the Gospel and the Apostle and the Paremians, that is, collections of passages from the Old Testament for reading at worship. There are more than 60 of them in the manuscript scattered across different book collections. Then, in much smaller numbers, there were separate biblical books with interpretations, where a biblical fragment was accompanied by some commentary. There were also collections of selected biblical books, the manuscript of the Pentateuch and the Eighth Book. It is clear that this is a product of scholarship. If without the service Gospel and the pareminean it is impossible to perform worship, then we can assume that these books were in every church. Although there are hypotheses that still not everywhere, and the priests served by heart.

Ivan Fedorov (1520–1583) is the publisher of the first precisely dated printed book “The Apostle” in the Russian Empire, as well as the founder of the printing house in the Russian Voivodeship of the Commonwealth.

Ivan Fedorov (1520–1583) is the publisher of the first precisely dated printed book “The Apostle” in the Russian Empire, as well as the founder of the printing house in the Russian Voivodeship of the Commonwealth.

The Complete Bible did not exist until the end of the 15th century, when, on the initiative of Archbishop Gennady of Novgorod, the collection of the corpus of books of Scripture began on separate lists. Something was taken from liturgical books, some from sensible translations. Some texts that could not be found in them were translated. Moreover, apparently, from Latin. For translation, Gennady invited the Dominican monk Benjamin. And in 1499 we have the first complete Bible. It is clear that the mass distribution of this huge folio was not discussed. Lists, in my opinion, two or three.

When, after 80 years, Ivan Fedorov in Ostrog created his own printing house and decided to publish the complete Slavic Bible, he was sent a list of the Gennadiev Bible, apparently after some textual work. It is a shame to say, but how the Gennadievskaya Bible was revised before publication, the study has not been conducted. Judging by the fragments, the textual work was. Which one is hard to say.

Nevertheless, on the basis of the Gennadiev Bible, the first printed Bible appears in Ostrog (therefore it is called Ostrog). The circulation, which she came out, we also do not know. But the usual standard plant (that is, the number of copies that the printing press can withstand) is 1200 copies. Apparently, about as much of it was published. The book was expensive, and it was preserved in a fantastically large number of copies. Now there are, according to various collections, about a thousand of them (despite the fact that, for example, the Old Believer reprint, carried out in 1912, has been preserved in several dozen copies). Then it was reprinted in Moscow in 1663. Here we are talking about thousands of copies. A complete printed Bible was not in every city, not like in every temple!


The Ostrog Bible is the first full edition of the Scriptures in Church Slavonic, prepared by Prince Konstantin of Ostrog and the circle of scientists of the Ostrog Academy. The publication was published in Ostrog by Ivan Fedorov in 1581 with the blessing of the Abbot Ibumen Job.

The Ostrog Bible is the first full edition of the Scriptures in Church Slavonic, prepared by Prince Konstantin of Ostrog and the circle of scientists of the Ostrog Academy. The publication was published in Ostrog by Ivan Fedorov in 1581 with the blessing of the Abbot Ibumen Job.

Peter I decided to change this situation, having issued in 1712 a decree that the Bible must be corrected and published in large numbers. Peter did not live up to the "publish", but there were quite big problems with the "fix". They began to correct the Bible by decree of Peter, and problems arose immediately, because the editors faced serious theoretical problems, which they had no solutions to. By this time, polyglotts had already been published in Europe – parallel editions of the biblical text in Latin, Greek and other languages. Biblical textology is already appearing, discrepancies are already striking. Here we have a Hebrew text. And why in Slavic otherwise? А вот у нас латинский текст, а вот — греческий. Как всё это свести? Какой текст правильный? Петровские справщики выяснили, что так просто сесть и исправить ошибки в библейском тексте как-то не получается. И начинается многолетняя правка. На разных основаниях текст исправляется, отдается комиссии. Она размышляет, что с этим делать дальше. Работа откладывается, возобновляется.

Дело тянется годами, и наконец, при Елизавете Петровне, выходит исправленная, новая версия Библии, которую обычно называют Елизаветинской или Петровско-Елизаветинской. И это, грубо говоря, тот славянский библейский текст, которым мы сейчас пользуемся.

В указе о первом издании было сказано, что необходимо издать 600 экземпляров для рассылки по городам. Чтобы в каждом населенном пункте, имеющем статус города, был хотя бы один экземпляр Библии. Сколько-то экземпляров для раздачи, сколько-то — для продажи.

Первое издание Елизаветинской Библии по-своему замечательно. Потому что в нем, кроме собственно библейского текста — с предисловием: подробным рассказом про историю Библии, про то, как её правили, с синопсисом, то есть с кратким пересказом содержания библейских книг, — содержится огромное количество текстологической информации. Например, о том, что вот здесь — так, а в прежней печатной Библии было так, а в еврейском тексте — так. Читателям показывают, что разговор о библейском тексте еще не окончен, что у нас нет окончательного ответа на вопрос «а как правильно?».


Превратить Библию в действительно массовое и доступное чтение удалось только в начале XIX века благодаря Британскому библейскому обществу и новым технологиям. Тогда возникло всемирное библейское движение, ставящее целью сделать Библию на всех языках доступной людям. И в 1812 году в России учреждается Российское библейское общество. Обычно о нем говорят в связи с тем, что оно перевело Новый Завет и часть Ветхого Завета на русский язык. Но оно сделало еще одну не менее важную вещь. Библейское общество ввело в России новые технологии книгоиздания, позволяющие печатать книги большими тиражами.

Библия становится доступной, она появляется в каждом храме. Хоть книга и не дешевая, но все-таки её можно купить. Кроме того, устав библейских обществ требовал, чтобы Писание распространялось безо всяких дополнений, без комментариев, предисловий, текстологических примечаний. Отчасти это было нужно для того, чтобы удешевить издание. Но в результате стандартное издание Библии из текста текучего и показывающего своим видом, что точка еще не поставлена, превращается в текстологическую истину в последней инстанции.


В каком объеме эту книгу читал и знал народ? Понятно, что на любые вопросы о народном просвещении ответить корректно почти невозможно. Потому что у нас нет способа провести анкетирование на знание Библии в XIX веке. Есть только некоторые косвенные данные.

И получается довольно любопытная картина. Одним из результатов петровских преобразований стало то, что русская культура достаточно четко поделилась на, условно говоря, народную и дворянскую. Благодаря петровским преобразованиям возникла гражданская печать. И в течение XVIII века сформировался русский литературный язык, отличный от церковнославянского, который был литературным языком древней Руси. В обществе произошло размежевание светской и церковной культуры. При этом народу в значительной степени лучше была понятна, конечно же, церковная культура, а не светская. Потому что традиционное народное образование было ориентировано на церковную печать.

Откуда мы об этом знаем? Из этнографических данных конца XIX века: есть масса свидетельств о том, как крестьян учили грамоте. И не только крестьян. Вот мемуары актера Щепкина, которого дьяк учит читать Псалтырь по складам (то есть по слогам). Чтение по складам сродни фонетическому упражнению с ориентацией на служебные книги, такое чтение, при котором вы сначала называете буквы по именам: «буки, аз — ба», «буки, люди, ять — бле». Потом читали «по верхам». Это когда вы уже не называете буквы, а читаете слово целиком.

Что, кроме Псалтыри, читают люди, которые прошли вот такое обучение? У них есть своя массовая литература, свои «комиксы», своя Библия в картинках, а именно лубок. Он был в каждом крестьянском доме. Помните хрестоматийную поэму «Кому на Руси жить хорошо»? «Когда мужик не Блюхера, / И не милорда глупого — / Белинского и Гоголя / С базара понесёт». А до этого перечисляется, что именно мужики покупают. Что они покупают? Лубочные картинки. Это та массовая культура, с которой борются, которую ругают все люди с хорошим вкусом. А в лубках есть всё. И лечебники, и путешествия на Святую землю, и листки эротического содержания — всё на свете.

Среди лубочных листов достаточно большое место занимали библейские картинки. Любопытно, что основой для многих из них были европейские, времен Контрреформации, Библии для бедных, Библии для неграмотных. С ними в Россию приходят различные экзотические библейские легенды. Например, о том, как Каин убивает Авеля ослиной челюстью. Эта ослиная челюсть широко присутствует в западноевропейской живописи, включая Гентский алтарь, хотя в Писании ничего такого нет. Таким путем в Россию пришли апокрифические западные сюжеты.


Люди образованные читали Библию, скорее, по-немецки и по-французски. Я в свое время смотрел дворянские мемуары, рассказы о детстве, об учебе. Стандартная история: «Когда мне исполнилось столько-то лет, папенька пригласил ко мне немца (англичанку, француза), который обучил меня языку. И мы с ним начали читать». Идет список, что они начали читать на иностранном языке, и в этом списке часто присутствует Библия. Кажется, где-то в письмах Игнатия (Брянчанинова) на фразу: «Хочу читать отцов», находим ответ: «Хорошо, вы же знаете французский — вот и читайте!»

В необразованных сословиях (что значит «необразованных»? — не получивших формально образования, ориентированного на новую культуру) Писание в каком-то объеме читалось по-славянски. В каком объеме? Грамоте учили по Часослову. В принципе, в число учебных книг могли входить Псалтырь и Евангелие. Традиционное обучение грамоте — заучивание наизусть. В идеале человек знал наизусть существенную часть Псалтыри. Сложно сказать, будет ли человек при этом способен перевести богослужебный текст, пересказать его своими словами, но с такими знаниями он, по крайней мере, будет воспринимать богослужение как нечто родное, свое.

Вся дальнейшая история и богослужебного языка, и восприятия Писания — это постепенное вытеснение традиционной грамотности грамотностью нового типа. Потому что все государственные программы просвещения народа были ориентированы на новую грамотность, на то, что школьники учатся по басням Крылова, а не по Псалтыри. И чем бóльшими были успехи народного образования, чем больше становилось людей, которые усваивали начальную грамотность по новому типу, ориентируясь на новый русский литературный язык, тем больше увеличивался барьер между богослужением, между славянским текстом Писания и широкой аудиторией. Этот барьер, эта пропасть стала уже очень серьезной в результате большевистской кампании по ликвидации безграмотности, которая, естественно, была ориентирована на дворянскую модель грамотности, на новую литературу. Эта кампания сделала языковую проблему в Церкви очень серьезной.


Специального церковного органа, который бы занимался библейским текстом и решением проблем чтения Библии и её толкования, не было. Не было и традиции домашнего чтения Писания. Помните замечательный рассказ Лескова «Однодум» о человеке, который носит в котомке Библию, садится на болоте на кочку и читает её? И у Лескова есть примечание, что в народе считается, будто человек, который дочитает Библию «до Христа» (то есть до Нового Завета), — «умом тронется».

Тем не менее в начале века проблема начинает осознаваться. При Петербургской духовной академии возникает в 1915 году Комиссия по научному изданию славянской Библии. Это в первую очередь научный проект, задачей которого было восстановить кирилло-мефодиевскую или хотя бы близкую к ней версию славянской Библии и, по возможности, ввести её в церковное употребление. Вокруг этой комиссии зарождается научно-библейская жизнь.

Через два года, уже после февральской революции, начинает работу Поместный Собор 1917 года. На одном из заседаний Комиссии по научному изданию славянской Библии профессор Иван Евсеевич Евсеев (один из инициаторов библейского проекта) читает доклад «Собор и Библия», как раз о церковных проблемах, связанных с изданием и чтением Священного Писания. На Соборе возник Библейский отдел. Никаких особо революционных решений этот отдел не принял. Было решено создать постоянный Библейский совет — общецерковный орган, который бы занимался переводом, толкованием, исправлением и пропагандой Библии. Также была поставлена задача обязательности чтения Библии для православных людей. Хотя в проект документа это не стали вносить. Понятно, что любой большой церковный проект, принятый в 1917 году, продолжения иметь не мог. Даже этот доклад был издан уже только в послеперестроечное время. Что было дальше — мы с вами все прекрасно знаем. Сейчас мы имеем для богослужения славянскую Библию и Библию на русском языке, хотя и в разных переводах, для домашнего чтения. Проблема двуязычия не решена и вряд ли будет решена в ближайшее время.

Источник: журнал «Вода живая»

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