The history of translating the Bible into Slavic and Russian

The Bible of Cyril and Methodius (885)
Their goal was to establish an independent church with its own liturgy and english to tagalog best translator correct grammar. To conduct divine services in the Slavic language, Cyril and Methodius first of all needed to create a Slavic alphabet. Only then could they translate church books into the Slavic language. The brothers began by translating the Psalms and then took up the New Testament. After the death of Cyril, Methodius and his disciples continued this work, and also completely completed the translation of the Old Testament.

The translations of Cyril and Methodius were widely disseminated among the Slavic peoples, including in Russia. So, churches had already appeared there, and people could read the Bible translated by the brothers-enlighteners even before the Baptism of Rus, which took place in Kiev in 988 and marked the beginning of the Christianization of Kievan Rus.

Gennadiy’s Bible (1499)
In the 15th century, Russia did not yet know a complete and integral Bible, although some of its books were used. The need for a complete collection of biblical books arose as a result of a dispute between Abbot Zacharius, the abbot of one of the monasteries, and Archbishop Gennady. Zechariah criticized the church hierarchy and insisted on a biblical understanding of the pastor, but in his arguments he referred to biblical scriptures unknown to Gennady.

Zacharius and his followers were executed in 1487-1488. Despite this, Gennady decided to collect a complete Bible. To this end, he went to Rome, where he received the canon (the official list of religious books recognized by the church as Holy Scripture), adopted in the West. Some of the books of the Bible of St. Gennady were taken from the translation of Cyril and Methodius, some from the works of Russian translators of the 15th century, and the rest were translated from Latin. The Gennady Bible is considered the first complete translation of the Bible into the Slavic language.

Maxim the Greek. Psalter with commentary (1552)
Several centuries passed, and a large number of errors began to appear in the manuscript biblical books, which were the result of the scribes’ carelessness and differences in local dialects. As a result, in the first half of the 16th century, attempts were made to revise church books. To this end, Maxim the Greek, an educated young monk from a monastery on Mount Athos, was sent to Moscow. It took him about a year and a half to re-translate the Psalter, adding commentaries to difficult passages of translation. He also revised the book of Acts and the Epistles of the Holy Apostles, making the translation clearer and more understandable.

Unfortunately, this work of correcting the Bible translation remained unfinished due to opposition from the official church community.

The first printed “Apostle” in 1564 and the Ostrog Bible by Ivan Fedorov in 1581
After Ivan IV annexed the Astrakhan and Kazan Khanates, a great need arose for the Bible and liturgical books in the new territories. In this regard, the tsar ordered to build a printing house, where in 1564 Ivan Fedorov and Peter Mstislavets published the first book – “Apostle” (Acts and Epistles).

Later, Ivan Fedorov lost his royal patronage. He moved to Ostrog, where, under the patronage of Constantine of Ostrog, he prepared for publication a new revised version of the translation of the Bible of St. Gennady, which was published in 1581.

The first printed Bible (1663) in Moscow Russia (Moscow Bible)
The reason for the emergence of this Bible was the desire of Russia to unite with Ukraine. By that time, there were serious differences between the Russian and Ukrainian liturgical books as a result of the mass of corrections. First of all, the Russian Church wanted to introduce Russian liturgical books in Ukraine, but it turned out that the Bible in the Ukrainian language was closer to the Greek original compared to the Russian-language version.

On September 30, 1648, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich ordered to send several educated monks who were supposed to make corrections in the Russian Bible in accordance with the Greek text. In 1651, a commission was organized to edit the biblical books. In 1663, the first printed edition of the Bible in Church Slavonic was published. There was very little interference in the text, mainly the replacement of obsolete and incomprehensible words.

Bible of Peter the Great and Elizabeth (1751)
On November 14, 1712, Peter the Great issued a decree on checking and correcting the Slavic Bible. By this decree, the king ordered to inform the higher ranks about the discrepancies between the Greek and Slavic Bibles. However, the clergy, bearing in mind that a previous attempt to edit the Bible ended with a schism in the Church in 1666, did not want to take on such a great responsibility. They worked on the revision of the Bible for 10 years, but this activity was stopped after the death of the emperor. And only during the reign of Elizabeth Petrovna, in 1751, the revised Bible was published. The text of this edition, that is, the so-called Elizabethan Bible, became the basis for a further nine revised editions.

New Testament of the Russian Bible Society (1821)
The Russian Bible Society was founded in 1814 by the decree of Emperor Alexander I, who was himself an active member. At first, the society was engaged in the dissemination of the Slavic Bible, and in 1816 it published the Slavic Bible in its own edition and as a separate book – the New Testament.

At this time, it was decided to start translating the Bible into Russian. The translation was carried out from the Greek language. The New Testament in Russian, modern for that era, was published in 1821, after which work began on the translation of the Old Testament. In 1823 the Psalter was published in Russian, and by 1825 the Pentateuch of Moses and the Book of Ruth were translated. In the same year, Alexander I died, and work on the translation was suspended until 1856.

Synodal translation of the Bible (1876)
In 1852, the Holy Synod issued a decree on the translation of the Bible into Russian. The Synod also developed basic principles that were to be used in the translation process:

if possible, translate as close to the original as possible, but at the same time use Russian forms that are understandable to the people;
observe the word order accepted in modern Russian;
use words and expressions of high style that are not used by ordinary people.
Even before the completion of the work on the New Testament in 1860, it was decided to translate the books of the Old Testament, based on the original in Hebrew. The Tetra Gospel was published in 1860, and two years later the rest of the translated portions of the New Testament were issued. Beginning in 1861, the journal “Christian Reading” began to publish the newly translated books of the Old Testament. This version is still the main translation of the Bible into Russian.

Bible Revision in the Post-Revolutionary and Soviet Periods
In 1926, under the leadership of Ivan Stepanovich Prokhanov, the founder of the evangelical Christian movement in Russia, the Canonical Bible was published. This is the first edition of the Bible after the Russian language reform in 1918. After that, the Bible was published in the Soviet Union only in limited editions under the strict control of government agencies. During the Soviet era, most of the biblical publications were illegally imported into the territory of the USSR from abroad.

The history of translating the Bible into Slavic and Russian