Kormchaia kniga

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Kormchaia kniga [Кормчая книга]. In Church Slavonic a term, which means literally ‘a pilot’s book,’ referring to a Church Slavonic redaction of the Greek Nomocanon. This was a digest of church canons, consisting of apostolic, conciliar, and episcopal instructions for conducting administrative and judicial affairs in the church. The earliest Slavic translation is believed to have been done by Saint Methodius in the second half of the 9th century. The chief recensions of the Kormchaia kniga known in Kyivan Rus’ were the Serbian (a 13th-century translation by Archbishop Sava of the Nomocanon of Fourteen Titles), the Vladimir or the Russian (containing the resolutions of the sobor in Vladimir-on-Kliazma, held in 1274), the Novgorod (ca 1280), the Volodymyr-Volynskyi (common in Ukraine, written in 1286 on the basis of the Vladimir recension), and the Lukashevych (written in the 14th century on the basis of the Vladimir recension and preserved in transcriptions from the 16th century). Some redactions contain particular laws from Ruskaia Pravda and elements of customary law. Such digests were important sources of law for the southern and eastern Slavs after their Christianization.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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