Slavonic Versions

Slavonic Versions.

Under this head. we shall have to speak of different versions, all belonging to one and the same family. The oldest of these is —

1. The Slavonic Version, which was executed during the 9th century by Cyril (q.v.) and Methodius. (q.v.), the first missionaries to the Slavonians, and who, contrary to the course pursued by Xavierbut anticipating the labors of modern and Protestant missions and Bible societies, conferred on that half savage nation the inestimable blessing of a valuable translation of the Bible. The first portion of the Slavonic version which was printed was the Psalter, published in 1491 at Cracow, Poland; and reprinted in 1495 in Montenegro, The four gospels were printed in 1512 at Ugrovallachia, which edition was followed by another in 1552 at Belgrade, and a third, in Montenegro, in 1562. In 1581 the first edition of the Slavonic Bible was published, at Ostrog, a number of Greek MSS. having been used for this edition. In 1633 a second edition of the Bible was published at Moscow. In 1712 the czar Peter the Great issued a ukase ordering the printed Slavonic text to be carefully compared, with the Greek of the Sept., and rendered in every respect conformable to it. The revision was not completed till the year 1723, having occupied nearly twelve years. In the following year Peter the Great ordered the revised copy to be put to press, but his death in that year greatly retarded the progress of its publication. Besides the death of the czar, other obstacles occasioned still further delay, and it was not till 1751 that this revised edition was published in a ponderous folio form, containing, besides the text, long and elaborate prefaces, with tables of contents and other useful additions. This edition, which served as the basis of all subsequent ones, has often been printed by the Russian Bible Society; and up to the year 1816 not fewer than twenty-one editions of the whole Bible, besides many others of the New Test., were put into circulation. According to the last report (1878) of the British and Foreign Bible, Society, about 246,418 copies of the Bible have been distributed. Owing to the comparatively late date of this version, it has no claim as a critical authority. Of late, parts of the New Test. have been published based on the oldest manuscript text, as Ostromirovo Evangelie, edited after a MS. of 1056 by Vostokov (St. Petersburg, 1843); Evangelium Matthei

Paloeoslovenioe, e codd. ed. Fr. Miklosich (Vindob. 1856); Mark 1-10, by the same, in Altslovenische Formenlehre (ibid. 1874); John, by Leskien, in Bandbuch der altbulgarischen Sprache (Weimar, 1871). See the Introductions by Hug, Eichhorn, Kaulen, Scholz; the art. "Slavonic Version" in Kitto's Cyclop. and Smith's Dict. of the Bible; Davidson, Biblical Criticism, p. 238 sq.; Kohl, Introductio in Hist. et Rem Litt. Slavorum; Dobrowsky, Slavin: Beitraige zur Kenntniss der slavischen Literatur (Prague, 1808); The Bible of Every Land, p. 292 sq.; Dalton, Das Gebet des Herrn in den Sprachen Russlands, p. 37 sq.

2. Russian Version (q.v.).

3. Polish Version. — A translation of the Scriptures into Polish is said to have been made prior to 1390 by order of queen Hedwig, the first wife of Jagello. Since the middle of the 16th century no fewer than six different versions have been executed. The first in order of time was a translation of the New Test., made by Seklucyan, a Lutheran, and a competent Greek scholar. It was printed at Konigsberg in 1551, and was thrice reprinted before 1555. The first version of the entire Old Test. appeared at Cracow in, 1561. It was translated from the Vulg. by Leonard, and reprinted in 1575 under the title Biblia, to jest Ksiegi Starego y Noweqo Zakonu, na Polski jezyk, etc.; w Krakowie. w druk. Mik. Szarffenbergera (1575, and again in 1577). Although designed for Roman Catholics, it never received the sanction of the pope, because many passages had been taken from the Bohemian Bible. It is known as the "Old Cracow Bible," and copies are now very rare. The New Test. of this version first appeared at Cracow in 1556, and in the course of time other translations were published. Thus in 1563 the famous Radziwill Bible was published at Brzesc, under the title Biblia Swieta, to jest, Ksiegi Starego y Nowego Zakonu, wlasnie z Zydowskiego, Greckiego, y Latinskiego, nowo na Polski jezyk z pilnoscia y wiernie wylozone. This edition was executed from the original texts by an anonymous translator for the Calvinists, and printed at the expense of prince Radziwill; but his son, who became a Roman Catholic, carefully bought up all the copies he could find and burned them. In 1570 the Socinian Bible, translated from the original texts by Budny, a Unitarian clergyman, was published at Nieswicz, in Lithuania, and was reprinted at the same place in 1572. Only three copies are said to be extant. The authorized Polish Bible was first printed in Cracow in 1599, with the title Biblia, to jest Ksiegi Starego y Nowego testamento; przez D. Jak. Woyka, w Krakowie, w druk. Lazarzowey (1599, fol). This edition, having been designed for Roman Catholics, was sanctioned by Clement VIII. The translation is accounted one of the best of European versions of the Vulg. the language being pure and classical, though in some places slightly antiquated. It was executed by the Jesuit Jacob Wuyck. At present a copy of this edition is sold at Leipsic for 360 marks, or about $90. Two other editions followed in 1740 and 1771. In 1632 the Dantzic Bible, translated by Paliurus, Wengierscius, and Micolaievius, from the original texts, was sent forth by the Reformed Church at Dantzic, under the title Biblia Sacra, to jest Ksiegi Starego y Nowego Przymierza z Zydowzskiego y Greckiego jezyka na Polski pilnie y wiernie przetlumaczone; we Gdansku w druk. Andrzeja Hunefelda. This Bible had passed through many editions before the British and Foreign Bible Society commenced its operations. In 1808 the Berlin Bible Society projected an edition of the Polish Scriptures. The text selected was that of the Dantzic edition. In 1813 the St. Petersburg Bible Society commenced an edition of the New Test. from the text of Jacob Wuyck. Other editions from both of the above texts were issued by the Berlin society with the aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society, which are at present in circulation. According to the latest report (1878) of the latter society, a revision committee is engaged to prepare a translation of the New Test. from the original, the work to be completed in three years.

4. Bohemian Version. — It seems that the greater part of a Bohemian version of the Scriptures was extant at the close of the 14th century. When Huss began to preach against the evils of Rome, the several portions of Scripture that had been translated into Bohemian were. for the first time collected together. After his martyrdom, in 1415, copies of this Bible were greatly multiplied by his followers, and from A.D. 1410 to 1488 (when this Bible was first printed), no less than four different recensions of the entire Scriptures can be distinctly traced, and many more of the New Test. From the date of the first publication of this Bible in 1488 to the year 1804, fourteen editions of the same left the press. Between the years 1.579 and 1601, a version of the Scriptures executed by the United (or Moravian) Brethren from the original texts was published in six quarto volumes at Kralitz, in Moravia: Biblij Ceske dil prvnisetsy. Fourteen translators are said to have been engaged on this splendid work (the price of which is given in a Leipsic catalogue at 510 marks, or about $128), and the whole was executed at the expense of baron John Zerotimus. This edition is now very scarce, most of its copies having been destroyed by the Jesuits. As to the translation and the notes accompanying the same, Schafarik has remarked that "they contain a great deal of that which, two hundred years later, the learned coryphaei of exegesis exhibited to the world as their own profound discoveries." A third edition of this Kralitz Bible was published in 1613 under the title Biblij Svatd, to jest, Kniha, v niz se vsecka Pjsma S. Stareho y Noveho Zakona obsahuji; v nove vytistena, a vydana, which is also remarkable for its high price ($90) given in a Leipsic catalogue. In addition to the two versions above mentioned, a translation of the entire Scriptures from the Vulg. into Bohemian was published in 1804 by Prochazka and Durich, under the title Biblij Ceska…. podle stareho obecneho Latinskeho od svate rjmske Katolicke Cyrkve ivdleneho vikladu (Prague, 2 vols.). The design of issuing an edition of the Bohemian Bible was entertained by the Berlin society as early as 1805. The current of political events, however, impeded the progress of the edition, which was not completed till 1807. In 1808 an edition of the Bible, carefully printed from the text of 1593, was edited by Prof. Palkovitch, of Hungary, with a list of obsolete words. After one hundred copies had been circulated, the British and Foreign Bible Society purchased in 1812 the whole stock for distribution. Numerous other editions have been issued since that time by the same society, and, in spite of the great opposition to the circulation of the Scriptures among the Bohemians, the latest report (1878) of that society shows that up to March 30, 1878, all in all, 402,096 portions of the Holy Scriptures have been disseminated.

5. Servian Version. — The Servian approximates more closely to the Old Slavonic than to any modern idiom, and its chief characteristic is the softness of its sound. Schafarik, in comparing the various Slavonic languages, fancifully but truly said, "Servian song resembles the tone of the violin; Old Slavonic, that of the organ; Polish, that of the guitar. The Old Slavonic, in its psalms, sounds like the loud rush of the mountain-stream; the Polish, like the bubbling and sparkling of a fountain; and the Servian, like the quiet murmuring of a streamlet in the valley." As to the version into that language, it is of a comparatively recent period, since the ancient Slavonic version, more intelligible to the Servians than to any other members of the Slavonic family, has always been in use. We are told that in 1493 a translation of the Pentateuch into Servian was printed at Zenta, in Herzegovina; but it is probable that the language of this version approached nearer to the Old Slavonic than to the modern idiom. In 1815 a communication from Mr. Kopitar, of Vienna, was addressed to the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society through baron De Sacy, of Paris, calling attention to the necessity of furnishing Servia with a version intelligible to the mass of the people. A Servian, by name Vuc Stephanovitch, was engaged to prepare an edition of the New Test. in Servian, which was not completed at press until 1824. As his translation was written in the common dialect of the people, many objections were made to it by those who preferred a more elevated style, bearing a stricter conformity to the Old Slavonic idioms. Soon after the appearance of this version, Prof. Stoikovitch was appointed by a committee of the St. Petersburg society to prepare a new version, holding a middle course between the common and the more ancient and classical phraseology of the language. This edition was printed at St. Petersburg. When a second edition of the New Test. became necessary for Servia, the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, having ascertained that the latter edition proved more acceptable to the people, resolved to take Stoikovitch's text, and issued an edition of 2000 copies at Leipsic in 1830, which was followed by other editions published at different times. In 1864 the same society purchased the manuscript translation of the Psalms prepared by Prof. Danipi9, which was published in 1865. From that time on, different parts of the Old Test. were published as soon as their translation was approved, and in 1869 the Servian Bible was completed. As to the merit of this translation, we will mention the fact that the bishop of Pakrac, in Slavonia, the most talented of the Servian hierarchy, and in former days a strong opponent, has written to Mr. Danipic, the translator, in the following terms: "I am more pleased with your translation of the Bible than with any other. I only regret that I cannot express my approbation of your glorious work as freely as you deserve and as I wish." "Danicic's version," as the Zagrebaki Katholiqke List (a Roman Catholic periodical) states, "is a valuable addition to our national literature. The clergy of both churches (Greek and Roman) can avail themselves of it with advantage; but, although the translation is an honest one, neither the Greek Oriental nor the Catholic Church can approve of it in its present state, nor can it be recommended to the people. What is to be done in the case? The Greek Oriental Church, unless it desire to abide by its custom of using the ancient Slavonic and quoting from that, might easily bring Danicic's version into conformity with its rules. The Catholic Church may do the same. It is not worthy of praise that, with so many bishops of both churches, it should have been left to the British and Foreign Bible Society to produce a more popular translation than we have had hitherto. If things are allowed to remain as they are now, no prohibitions will be of any avail. The people will grasp at this translation, unless an authentic one be provided for them. That the writer in that journal was correct in his anticipation may be seen from the fact that up to March 30, 1878, 132,109 copies of the Servian version had been distributed.

6. Croatian Version. — The Servians and Croatians. speak the same language, the only difference being in the written characters. The Servians belong almost without exception to the Greek Church, and use a modified Cyrillian character, while the Croats, having received instruction in the Christian religion originally from Latin priests, belong in general to the Roman Catholic Church, and use the Roman character. A translation of the gospels into Croatian, or Dalmato-Servian, by Bandulovitch, appeared at Venice in 1613, but never obtained much circulation. In 1640 a Jesuit, by name Bartholomew Cassio, prepared a translation of the entire Scriptures, but it never was printed. After the lapse of another century, Stephen Rosa, a Roman Catholic priest, executed a new translation, which he forwarded to the pope with the request that it might be used in all the churches instead of the Old Slavonic version; but at the consideration of a committee appointed by the pope, the project was formally rejected in 1754. At length, in 1832, by the renewed efforts of the Romish Church and the zealous aid of the deceased primate of Hungary, cardinal Rudnay, another version was completed and permitted to pass through the press. It was printed in Roman letters, and was at once adopted by the Roman Catholics of Dalmatia and Croatia. This version, translated from the Vulg., and rendered conformable in all points to the dogmas of the Romish Church, was executed by Katancsich, a Franciscan monk and professor. An entire new translation was commenced by Mr. Karadcic, completed by Mr. Danicic in 1868, and published in 1869. In 1877 an edition of the Old and New Tests. was commenced by Dr. Sulek, with the orthography revised and obsolete words changed. Of this revised edition the New Test. was published in 1878, which proves to be more acceptable because more intelligible than formerly. Altogether the British and Foreign Bible Society had circulated up to March 30, 1878, 52,025 copies of the Croatian version.

7. Slovenian Version. — Slovenian is a dialect spoken in the Austrian provinces of Carinthia, Carniola, and Styria, and has been the vernacular of these regions since the 5th century, but was never embodied in a written form till towards the epoch of the Reformation. The first who wrote in this dialect was Truber, a canon and curate of several places in Carniola and Carinthia. In his endeavors to give to his people the Bible in the vernacular, he met with so much discouragement and opposition that he was obliged to take refuge with Christopher, duke of Wurtemberg. Here he completed his translation, the first portion of which was the Gospel of Matthew, published at Tubingen in Roman letters in 1555, while the entire New Test. was completed at press in 1557. Dalmatin, who assisted Truber, translated the Old Test., and an edition of the entire Scripturps in Slovenian was printed under his direction, with the aid of Melancthon, in 1584. This edition was designed for the Protestants of Carinthia and Carniola, who were then very numerous; but they have been exterminated by the Jesuits, and almost all the copies of this edition seem to have been destroyed. In 1784 a version of the Scriptures for the use of Roman Catholics was printed at Laybach, it being executed from the Vulg. by George Japel. This version has since, been reprinted. About the year 1817 another version is said to have been prepared by Ravnikar, a Roman Catholic divine at Laybach. Of late, however, the British and Foreign Bible Society has undertaken a new translation of the New Test. into this dialect, made directly from the Greek. In 1870 the sixty-sixth Annual Report of that society announced the publication of the gospels of Matthew and Mark. Although the most violent opposition has been awakened by the circulation of these gospels, not a word has been uttered which could lead to the supposition that the translation is in any degree a failure. In 1871 an edition of the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles was published, which was followed in 1875 by an edition of 2000 copies of the Epistle to the Romans, and in 1877 by the publication of three additional epistles. Of the Old Test. the Psalms are prepared for publication. Altogether the British and Foreign Bible Society has circulated in about eight years 23,500 copies of the New Test., the best evidence of the timely undertaking of this version.

8. Slovakian Version. — This dialect is spoken in the northwest of Hungary. It approximates closely to the Servian, but has been greatly influenced by the Bohemian, which the, Slovaks have adopted as their literary language. A translation of the Bible, made by the canon G. Palkowic, was printed in 1831.

9. Bulgarian Version. — The first translation into this dialect was commenced in 1820 by the archimandrite Theodoseos, and completed in 1822. Only the Gospel of Matthew was printed at St. Petersburg in 1823.

In 1827 another translation of the New Test. was completed by Sapounoff, of which the four gospels only were printed. In 1836 the British and Foreign Bible Society set an entirely new translation on foot, and the complete New Test. was published at Smyrna in 1840. Other editions have since been issued from the London press, and up. to March 30, 1878, 51,918 copies of the New Test. had been distributed. The earnest demand for the Word of God evinced by the Bulgarian population encouraged the British and Foreign Bible Society to take steps for obtaining a translation of the entire Old Test., and this work was completed in 1858, under the superintendence of Dr. Riggs, of the American mission. It was printed at Smyrna, and left the press in September, 1863. In 1873 the report of the British and Foreign Bible Society stated that a new edition of the Bulgarian Bible was in course of preparation by the Rev. Dr. Long, introducing some small corrections in order to make the whole work uniform in: style and phraseology. Since 1875 this. new edition has been in circulation.

10. Wendish Version. — The Latin term Venedi, German Wenden, is the specific appellation of a Slavonic tribe located in Upper and Lower Lusatia. Two dialects are predominant among them-that of Upper Lusatia and that of Lower Lusatia, the former resembling more the Bohemian, the latter the Polish. At an early period attempts seem to have been made to translate portions of the Bible into Wendish. In 1728 a version of the entire Scriptures in Upper Wendish appeared at Budissen, or Bautzen, in Upper Lusatia, which was followed by an emended edition in 1742, and a third edition in 1797. All these editions strictly follow the German version of Luther. With the aid of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Dresden society published an edition of 3000 copies of the version of 1728 in 1817. For Lower Lusatia an edition was also published in 1818. New editions soon followed, and in 1860 an edition of 5000 copies, carefully revised by the Rev. Mr. Teschner, was published at Berlin.

11. Wendish-Hungarian Version. — A peculiar dialect of the Wendish is spoken by about 15,000 Protestant Slavonians in the Szala and other districts of Hungary. The New Test. has been translated for this race by Stephen Kuznico, or Kugmits, an edition of which has been printed by the. British and Foreign Bible Society, together with a version of the Psalms by the Rev. Mr. Trplan.

12. Lettish or Livonian Version. — The maritime portion of Livonia bordering on the Baltic, and also part of Courland, are occupied by a small nation to whom this dialect is vernacular. According to Dalton, their number amounted in 1870 to about 900,000 souls, of whom 150,000 belong to the Church of Rome and the remainder to the Lutheran Church. The Livonians are indebted for their version of the Bible to Ernest Gliick, dean of the Lutheran Church in Livonia. He was a native of Saxony, and bestowed eight years upon this version. After it was revised by John Fischer, a German professor of divinity and general superintendent of Livonia, it was printed at the command and expense of Charles XI in 1689. This edition was so favorably received that a second was soon demanded, and in 1739 a second and revised edition, consisting of 9000 copies, was printed at Kinigsberg, the New Test. having previously been published at Riga in 1730. In 1815 another impression of the New Test., according to the received edition of Fischer, was printed by the Courland section of the St. Petersburg Bible Society at Mittau, consisting of 15, 000 copies. Numerous copies of the Lettish Testament have also within a recent period been distributed in the province by the agency of the American Bible Society. An edition of 20,500 New Tests. was printed in 1854 at the expense of the British and Foreign Bible Society. In 1866 another edition, together with the Psalms, was issued, under the title Ta Jauna Derriba muhsu Kunga Jesus Kristus jeb Deewa swehti wahrdi Kas pehz ta Kunga Jesus Kristus peedsimschanas no teem swehteem preezas-mahzitajeem un Apustuteem irr usrakstiti. The seventieth report (1874) of the British and Foreign Bible Society stated that "a revision of the Lettish Scriptures is in progress, partly at the expense of the Livonian and Courland synods, the principal reviser being Prof. Bielenstein. The committee have ordered an edition of the New Test. according to this version. It is expected that the Old Test will also be revised shortly." Altogether, the British and Foreign Bible Society had distributed up to March 30, 1878, 158,750 New Tests. with Psalms.

13. Lithuanian Version. — The Lithuanian dialect is now spoken only by the peasantry, Polish being the language of the middle and upper classes. It is interesting that the dialect used by the Protestant Lithuanians differs from that spoken by the Roman Catholic Lithuanians. This difference is not to be traced back to any confessional quarrel, but rather to territorial influences — the Lutherans and Reformed living more in the northern part (Kovno, Wilna, Courland), the Catholics more in the southern part (Poland). Hence Lithuanian proper is spoken by the former, while the latter use the Shamaitic or Samogitian dialect. SEE SAMOGITIAN VERSION.

The first translation into this dialect was made at the close of the 16th century by John Bretkius, of Bammeln, near Friedland, and pastor of Labiau. He afterwards became pastor of the Lithuanian Church at Konigsberg, and there he commenced his version in 1579, which he completed in 1590. From the MS., which was deposited in the Royal Library at Konigsberg, the New Test. was printed at Strasburg in 1700, by order of Frederick I, king of Prussia. A new translation was undertaken by Rev. John Jacob Quandt, at the order of Frederick William, king of Prussia. The New Test. and the Psalms were completed in 1727, and the entire Bible in 1735, in which year it was also printed, with the title Biblia, tai esti: Wissas szwentas rasztas, seno ir Naujo Testamento. A second edition of the Bible, with Luther's German text, was published at Konigsberg in 1755. In 1806 the British and Foreign Bible Society was informed that, although the province of Lithuania possessed 74 churches and 460 schools, the people were almost destitute of the Scriptures. An edition of 3000 copies of the Bible was accordingly printed by the society at Konigsberg in 1816, which was followed by other issues. The New Test. now in circulation has the title Naujas Testamentas musit Wieszpaties ir Iszganytojo lezaus Kristaus i sietuwiszkqje Kalba iszwerstas. Up to March 30, 1878, the British and Foreign Bible Society had distributed 13,000 Bibles and 53,111 New Tests. with the Psalms.

14. Samogitian Version (q.v.). See The Bible of Every Land; Dalton, Das Gebet des Herrn in den Sprachen Russlands; but more especially the Annual Reports of the British and Foreign, Bible Society. (B.P.)

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