Ostrih Bible

Image - An afterword to the Ostrih Bible (1581). Image - An afterword to the Ostrih Bible (1581). Image - Ostrih Bible (1581).

Ostrih Bible (Ostrozka Bibliia). The first full Church Slavonic edition of the canonical Old and New Testaments and the first three books of the Maccabees, printed in Ostrih in 1580–1 by Ivan Fedorovych (Fedorov) in 1,500–2,000 copies. The preparation of the text and the printing were funded by Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky. With close to 1,400 headpieces, initials, and tailpieces, the 628-folio book is one of the finest examples of printing in late 16th-century Ukraine. The text was based on all the Church Slavonic and Greek sources of the Bible (including the complete 1499 Bible of Archbishop Gennadii of Novgorod the Great) collected by Ostrozky. The Old Testament sources were verified against the Septuagint or translated anew (sometimes incorrectly) by scholars directed by Herasym Smotrytsky at the Ostrih Academy. The Bible includes Ostrozky's and Smotrytsky's prefaces, Smotrytsky's heraldic verses dedicated to Ostrozky, and Fedorovych's postscript. Its orthography, phonetics, and morphology are a mixture of Middle Bulgarian and East Slavic. The Russian stresses in its vocabulary were most likely introduced by Fedorovych. The Bible was reprinted with minor revisions in a unified orthography in Moscow in 1663. The text was later corrected by a group of scholars under the direction of Yepifanii Slavynetsky and then by Ya. Blonnitsky and Varlaam Lashchevsky, and served after the abolition of Vulgata textual elements as the basis of the Synodal (Elizabethan) Bible of 1751 and many subsequent Church Slavonic printings. Pamva Berynda studied the text of the Ostrih Bible and used material from it for his Leksykon (1627). Initial psalms from it were transliterated to the Latin alphabet as examples of Old Slavonic by the Czech M. Filonomos-Benešovský (1587) and the Pole L. Górnicki (1594). A photofacsimile of the Bible was published in Winnipeg in 1983.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

Image - Ostrih Bible (1581).

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