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Slavonic Bibles I
Early Printed Cyrillic Books from the Lomonosov Moscow State University Library

The Moscow University Library
The Moscow University Library, which currently houses more than eight million volumes, was founded in 1756 and was thus the first university library in Russia. The most valuable part of its holdings belongs to the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, whose collection comprises more than 200,000 items. These include unique and extremely rare European, Oriental, Slavonic and Russian manuscripts, archives, incunabula, early prints and printing ephemera. Here are to be found the first Slavonic Cyrillic printed books - the Book of Hours and two Treodions, printed by Schweipolt Feol in Krakow. The Lent Treodion contains a splendid bookplate from the Moscow Printing Office ( Moskovskii Pechtanyi Dvor).

Unique collection
The University Library's unique collection of Slavonic early printed books was formed largely through donations, purchases and transfers from other libraries. Especially important to the acquisitions was the Archeographical Expedition, which involved thirty years working among Russian Old Believers in different regions of the former Soviet Union and which resulted in a doubling of the collection. Today, the Slavonic collection includes 2,170 items dating from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century.

History of printing
The Bibles and religious books illustrate a fascinating chapter in the history of printing. Not only was printing itself a work of art, but the Bibles were further enhanced by painters who designed the title page and illustrated the text. Most of the books were printed in Moscow and in the Polish and Lithuanian lands of modern Ukraine and Byelorussia. There are considerable differences between Moscow editions and those from Ukraine or Byelorussia: while the Moscow editions were funded by the government and rigidly controlled by the Metropolitan and the Tsar, printing in the Ukraine and Byelorussia was supported primarily by private donations. The latter therefore frequently contain coats of arms, dedications and author's prefaces. Their repertoire was also much more diverse.
In the latter half of the sixteenth century, Moscow, L'vov, Ostrog and Vil'no emerged as important centres of Slavonic book printing. The Gospels and Book of Psalms printed in the Moscow Anonymous typography (c.1550-1560) and the Acts printed by Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets in 1564, (being the first printed books in Moscow) are masterpieces of the art of printing. The traditions of the first Moscow printing houses were continued by Andronik Nevezha. In 1577, he published the Book of Psalms on the printing press of Aleksandrova Sloboda - the capital of Ivan the Terrible's oprichnina. Later, in Moscow, Nevezha printed the Lent Treodion (1589), Oktoikh (1594), and many other books.

History of language
The Bibles and Bible translations provide an absolutely unique source for the study of the history of language. They give us a clear picture of the level of development of the Slavonic languages in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Above all, they testify to the superb achievement of individual editors and translators. The University's collection contains the first printed edition of the Slavonic Bible, the work of the famous Byelorussian printer, scientist, and educator Franciscus Skorina. The full text of the Bible was to appear in instalments; the project, however, was never completed. The University Library houses the Books of Joshua, Ruth, Judges and Kings, published in Prague in 1518-1519. Skorina himself had translated these texts, intended primarily for teaching reading skills, into the Byelorussian version of the Old Church Slavonic. These remarkable editions contain the author's prefaces, epilogues, and comments. Franciscus Skorina was also the first to use title pages, foliation, running titles, and elaborate illustrations in Cyrillic printing. The beautiful artistic and paleographic design makes these books an outstanding landmark of Cyrillic printing.

First printed Slavonic text of the complete Bible
The catalogue includes books produced in the Polish lands and the Ukraine by the first Moscow printer Ivan Fedorov. These are the New Testament with Commentary (Zabludovo, 1569), Acts (L'vov, 1574), and the first printed Slavonic text of the complete Bible (Ostrog, 1581). The edition of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms (Ostrog, 1580) is particularly interesting. Numerous notes, comments, marks, corrections and insertions suggest that this book, the property of the clerk ( podaichii) Ivan Grigoriev, had been the editor's copy. The book also contains four miniatures of the Evangelists. Another book, A Little Book Comprising Most Necessary Things ( Knizhitsa sobranie veshchei nuzhneishikh) compiled by Timofei Mikhailov and published in Ostrog in 1580, was an index to the New Testament and Book of Psalms, a first edition of its sort.
The catalogue also contains production details of another Ostrog typography in use prior to 1612. The most interesting editions are the anti-Jesuit and anti-Uniat polemic writings - Apocrisis (c. 1597) and Book in Ten Chapters (1598).

Valuable historic information
In 1570, Petr Mstislavets, Ivan Fedorov's associate, re-established Cyrillic printing in Vilno where it had been at a standstill after Franciscus Skorina. Mstislavets' new printing press was in the house of his benefactors the family Momanchi, merchants living in Vilno. The New Testament (1575) and the Book of Psalms (1576) were products of this typography. The production of the Mamonichi typography, as well as that of the Slavic printing presses of Nesvizh, Venice, Skutri, etc., is represented in the catalogue. Notes, markings and inscriptions in the books provide valuable historical information.

Finding aids
The printed guide (free on request) contains the full descriptions of the books listed in the catalogues. It has been produced on the basis on the bibliography by I.V. Pozdeeva, I.D. Kashkarova and M.M. Lerenman, Katalog knig kirillicheskoi pechati XV-XVI v. Nauchnoi biblioteki Moskovskogo Universiteta (Moscow, 1980). Valuable information is also to be found in I.V. Pozdeeva, V.I. Erofeeva and G.M. Shitova, Katalog kirillicheskikh izdanii XVI v. - 1641, Nakhodki 1971-1996 gg..
Slavonic Bibles II

The Bible before the Reformation
The spiritual culture of the European Middle Ages, both Western, and Eastern is inextricably related with hand-written, and subsequently printed Bibles. However for over a thousand years the "Holy Bible" was not a book that members of the Christian churches read at home. The Word of God was only found in the divine service, in the readings of the scriptures (pericopes), the prayers and hymns of the liturgy. The books were, almost without exception, designed purely for use in church and did not fall into the hands of the laity: they were organized on the basis of the liturgical readings, not in chapters and verses. In the Slav world of the Byzantine (Eastern) rite there were from the beginning (the 10th century) manuscripts of the Gospels, the Psalter, odd books from the Old Testament (the Song of Solomon, the Books of Moses); from the 12th century also the Epistles and the Book of Revelation (together known in the Eastern rite as the Apostolos).
Despite the Eastern Church's propensity for national languages, the traditonal Slavonic Bible was written in a language that was quite different from colloquial Slavic (though far more accessible than Latin). Like the Holy book itself, it language enjoyed a sacrosanct and indeed sacral status.

Translations of the Bible
This remained the case until the 14th century, when the Bible started to be translated and read. Translations of the Bible, New Testament or Gospels into the vernacular for home reading were part of the growth of peoples and nations, and the reform movements of Hus, Luther and Calvin and also the struggle of church against heretical doctrines. Already in an early stage of book printing the Bible became primarily a book for reading.
Among the Czechs, readings from the liturgy were translated in convents starting from the end of the 13th century. Gradually the NT and the Bible in its entirety were translated. For the next five hundred years work on the Bible, producing a steady stream of new translations and editions, was to be the greatest intellectual achievement in the history of the Czechs. Czech translations strongly influenced almost all the neighboring Slavs. A Polish bible culture developed in the wake of the Bohemian one.

Eastern Slavs
Struggling against heresies Archbishop of Novgorod Gennady (†1505) initiated the creation of the first complete Slavonic Bible in Russia (1499) in manuscript form. This collection includes also the first Slavonic Bible, the production of the famous Byelorussian printer Francysk Skoryna (1490-1541). His Biblia Ruska belongs to the the earliest editions of the Bible in national languages. Skoryna translated the OT in Prague (1517-19) and the Apostolos in Vilnius (1525) in a mixture of Church Slavonic and Byelarussian. Skorina himself had translated these texts, taking Church Slavonic manuscripts and the Venice Czech Bible (1506) as his models.
These remarkable editions contain the author's prefaces, epilogues and comments. Skoryna was the first to use title pages, foliation, running titles, and elaborate illustration in Cyrillic printing. These books' beautiful artistic and paleographic design makes them an outstanding landmark in Cyrillic printing.
The first Gospels in Ukrainian came about in 1556/61(only existent in manuscript; printed 2001). These translations (Russian 1354; Byelarussian; Ukrainian 1556/61) mark the beginning of the division of the three Eastern Slav languages and peoples into separate entities.
The Gospels and Book of Psalms printed in the Moscow Anonymous typography c. 1550-1560's, together with the Acts printed by Ivan Fedorov and Petr Mstislavets in 1564, are the first printed books in Moscow. These are remarkable masterpieces in the art of printing. The catalogue includes also books produced by the first Moscow printer Ivan Fedorov in Ukraine and Lithuania. Among these we find the New Testament with Commentary (Zabludovo, 1569), the Acts (L'vov, 1574), and the first printed Slavonic text of the complete Bible (Ostrog, 1581).
This collection includes the first printed Slavonic text of the complete Bible (Ostrog , 1581) which used manuscripts of the 1499 Gennady Bible. The edition of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms (Ostrog, 1580) is particularly interesting. Numerous notes, comments, marks, corrections, insertions suggest that this book, the property of the clerk ( pod''aichii) Ivan Grigoriev had been the editor's copy.

West and Southern Slavs
Luther's German Bible was the model for the Sorbs in Germany and the Slovenians in Austria. Among the highlights of this IDC-collection are fourteen translations of the Bible into Upper and Lower Sorbian. Because of the religious division of the Sorbs, the Bible was translated into two languages - Upper Sorbian, intended for Catholics (printed in Bautzen/Budeshin) and Lower Sorbian - for Reformed (printed in Cottbus/Choschobus). The NT was translated into Lower Sorbian by Jakubitza in 1547 (based on Luther) and into Upper Sorb by Frentzel from 1670 to 1706 (based on the Vulgate). Luther's German Bible also served as the model for the Croat NT by Flacius Illyricus (1562/3), which was printed in Germany.
Translations of the Bible played a very important role in the development of the Bulgarian literary language. The present collection includes most of the early translations of the Bible into Bulgarian. Worthy of mention is the first translation of the New Testament by Neofit Ryl'skii (Smirna, 1840), whose copies were nearly all destroyed, and the first translation of the Bible into New Bulgarian by Teodosii Bistritskii (St Peterburg, 1823).

History of Language
These Bibles and Bible translations provide an absolutely unique source for the study of the history of language. They inform us about the stage and level of development of the Slavonic languages through the centuries. Above all, they testify to the superb achievement of individual editors and translators. Of greater fundamental significance still is the linguistic aspect of the Bible translations. Translations contributed in a major way- trough their extensive vocabulary and the manifold forms of expression - to the formation of most languages in Eastern and Central Europe. The Catholic translations of the Counter-Reformation ultimately had a lasting effect on the reading of the Bible, but the Protestant translations that preceded them influenced their language. Only among the Czechs did the Protestant Kralice Bible have an effect that would last up to the present day.

History of Printing
The Bibles and religious books illustrate a fascinating chapter in the history of printing. Most of the publishers and printers of that time - in Russia, Poland, and other countries of Easter and South Europe, - published Bibles. For this purpose, they not only spent substantial amounts of money, but also invested a great deal of effort and technical skills. Apart from the fact that the printing itself was a work of art, the Bibles were further enhanced by painters who designed the title page and illustrated the text.

Prof. Dr. Hans Rothe, Bonn
• Number of titles: 40 • Languages used: Old Church Slavonic, as well as Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Russian translations of Old Church Slavonic • Title list available • MARC records are available Collection of the earliest part of the Slavonic early printed books of the Moscow University Library, consisting of 40 Slavonic bibles and Cyrillic religious books printed in the 15th and 16th centuries, including editions of the Gospels, New Testaments, Acts and Epistles, and Psalms. Location of originals: Lomonosov Moscow State University Library
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