Gennadius Bible

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The Gennadius Bible was the first compilation in Russia of the books of the Holy Scripture in the Church Slavonic language. This Bible was prepared under the direction of Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod in the last decade of the fifteenth century.


Until the late fifteenth century, following the example in the Eastern Roman Empire, the books of the Bible were copied in Russia not in their entirety as a single volume but in several parts, that is, the Pentateuch (first five books) or Octateuch (first eight books), Kings, Proverbs, the Psalter, the Prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles were individually produced. Also, the books of the Old Testament, in particular, were often subjected to both accidental and intentional errors. Thus, often heretics used texts from the Old Testament that were different from the texts accepted by Orthodox Christians. During the late fifteenth century Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod and Archbishop Joseph of Volokolamsk struggled against the Judaizer heresy from Novgorod that used different texts from the Old Testament than those accepted by the Orthodox Church. Abp. Gennadius wrote about this issue in a letter to Abp. Joseph noting, "The Judaizing heretical tradition adheres to the Psalms of David, or prophecies which they have altered."

Abp. Gennadius gathered around himself many learned and industrious Biblical scholars who collected all the Slavonic language books of the Holy Scripture into a single codex. In addition, he blessed the retranslated from the Latin language of the Holy Books that were not found in manuscripts of the traditional Slavonic Bible. In 1499, the first complete codex of Holy Scripture in Slavonic, "The Gennadius Bible," as it was called after its compiler, was published in Russia.

The Gennadius Bible of 1499 became an integral link in the succession of Slavonic translations of the Word of God, from the God-inspired translation of the Holy Scripture by Ss. Cyril and Methodius, through the reproduction of the Gennadius Bible in the first printed Slavonic Bible, Ostrozh in 1581, that the Church has maintained of a Slavonic Biblical tradition through the so-called Elizabethan Bible of 1751 and subsequent printed editions.