The Bible in Medieval Slavic Literature (9th-15th cc.)


Scientific interest in the Slavic translations of the Old and New Testament corpus of books arose several centuries ago, when the preparation of the first printed editions of the Bible in Western Europe started, based on Latin texts. 

Gradually, South Slavic manuscript material enters scientific circulation and connects the first translations of the Old Testament texts, that appeared among the South Slavs, with the missionary activity of the Holy brothers Cyril and Methodius (863-885), as well as with the activity of their disciples in the first Bulgarian Kingdom during the reign of the Bulgarian rulers Prince Boris (†906) and Tsar Simeon (927). The new witnesses show that the earliest translation of the Bible occurred in South Slavic environment in the second half of the 9th century during the archbishopric activity of St. Methodius in Great Moravia. This fact is not unequivocally accepted by paleo-Slavic specialists.

The introduction into scientific circulation of the so-called Tarnovo Bible, a Mid-Bulgarian manuscript from the 14th century, which is the earliest Slavic witness of the Biblical corpus, shows an attempt to anthologize the then existing independent biblical books.

In the milieux of these latest discoveries, the proposed thematic panel will present the latest achievements in the field of text critical, grammatical and lexical studies, observations on the connection between the original text and the translation, attempts to identify the Greek version that served as a starting point for the translation, and in a broader context - some aspects of the reception of the biblical text as an ideological and literary hypertext in the Bulgarian medieval literature. During the recent decades, a number of discoveries in the field of multiple translations of individual biblical books have also been made, which sheds additional light on the fate of the biblical corpus in the South Slavic environment.


Andrey Boyadzhiev

Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski"


Vasya Velinova

Centre for Slavo-Byzantine Studies "Prof. Ivan Dujčev"


Veselka Zhelyazkova

Cyrillo-Methodian Research Center, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

The special session "The Bible in Medieval Slavic Literature (9th-15th cc.)" will predominantly focus on the history of translation of the New and Old Testament books starting with Cyrillo-Methodian translations from the end of the 9th c. until the occurrence of the first complete bible in 1499. Thus, we are looking for papers exploring language and metaphrastic practices of the first translators and the history of the single books and collections, such as Gospels, Psalter, Apostle, Pentateuch, Octateuch, Kingdoms, Prophets, Chronicles etc. Presenters are encouraged to pay attention to the text transmission and official revisions of the biblical texts during the centuries. We expect the problems of the relation between the medieval translation of the Bible and the modern Bible translation also to be tackled upon. The Bible as a code for understanding medieval Slavic literature is another focus of this special session.