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A Brief History of the Synodal Translation of the Bible into Russian

Before the Bible was published in its entirety in Russian, the people used the Bible in Church Slavonic

November 14, 1712 - Peter I issues a decree to publish a new translation of the Bible.

January 1725 - With the death of Peter I, work on the publication was suspended.

November 1725> - Catherine I decreed to proceed with publishing the Bible: "But first of all... to consult the Holy Synod with those who corrected it, and to conform it to the ancient Greek Bibles of our Church, that henceforth no discord and no error in translation... should be found

May 1727 Catherine I died, the decrees about translation of the Bible are issued by Elizaveta Petrovna.

December 18, 1751 - The Elizabethan Bible
The Elizabethan Bible is out of print in 4 volumes. All changes made in correcting the translation were stipulated, the notes to the text formed a separate volume, almost equal in length to the text of the Bible itself.

1756 - 2nd edition of the Elizabethan Bible with additional notes in the margins and Dore engravings.
Hieromonk Gedeon (Slonimsky) corrected mistakes and typos of the first edition.

1762 The 4th edition of the Elizabethan Bible.

1784 - 8th edition of the Elizabethan Bible.

1813 - The Russian Bible Society was founded.

1815 - Alexander I again initiated Russian translation of the Bible.
Emperor Alexander I ordered the president of Russian Bible Society, prince Golitsyn, "to offer the Holy Synod His Majesty's sincere and exact desire to provide Russians with ability to read the word of God in their native Russian language, as the most understandable for them in Slavic, in which books of Holy Scripture are published". Once again the question was raised about the Russian translation of the Bible. Responsibility for the publication was taken by RBO, the translation was entrusted to members of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy.

1818> - published the first edition of the Gospels in the translation of Pavsky and Drozdov in Russian and Church Slavonic.
This translation was based on the Greek text of the New Testament by Christian-Friedrich Matthaei (Matthaei Novum Testamentum Graece) published in 1807.

1819 The 3rd (stereotyped) edition of the Gospels was published, together with the book of Acts of the Apostles.

January 1822 - the New Testament is printed for the first time in its entirety in Russian and Church Slavonic in parallel.

1823 - The RBO published the New Testament in Russian only.

November 1823 - The Pentateuch was printed in Russian in St. Petersburg, and supervision was entrusted to Gerasim Petrovich Pavsky, chairman of the committee.

June 8, 1824 - there followed a Supreme Decree prohibiting the publication of the Pentateuch.
This decree did not stop the publishers and they produced 10,000 copies of the Pentateuch of Moses. This decree applied to a particular edition, not to all the books of the Bible. The whole Bible was supposed to be printed by dividing it into 5 volumes, following the example of the Slavic Bible of the Moscow Synod edition, the first volume of which ends with the book of Ruth.

1825 - The RBO at the revision of Pavsky and Drozdov published the Eight Books.

April 12, 1826 - The activities of the RBO are terminated.
The highest rescript addressed to Seraphim, by order of Emperor Nicholas I was commanded: "to suspend in all its (Bible Society) activities without exception". As a result, the activities of the RBS have been terminated and work on the Russian translation of the Bible has been suspended. 1856 Alexander II continued translating the Bible into Russian.
The resumption of the Bible translation into Russian at the official level began in connection with the coronation of the new Emperor Alexander II. On this occasion on September 10 in Moscow the Synod met and Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret (Drozdov) put for consideration the question "About providing the Orthodox people with ways to read the Holy Scripture for home edification with the best possible understanding. 1862 The 2nd edition of the New Testament in Russian, improved and in a more modern Russian language.
The books of the New Testament were translated from Ancient Greek (Koine).

1863 The St. Petersburg Theological Academy, under the direction of Golubev and Khvolson, publishes the Pentateuch in Russian, based on the Masoretic text, as well as the Russian translation of the Old Testament by Paul published in 1838 and the 1847 translation by Macarius.

1871 - Under the direction of Levinson and Khvolson, the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1-4 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, 1Ezdra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs were published in St. Petersburg.

1875 The Old Testament in Russian, edited by Levinson and Hvalson, was printed in London. And in the same year, the Moscow, Kazan, and Kiev academies published the remaining books of the Old Testament, canonical and non-canonical.

1876 The complete Bible in Russian was first published under the direction of the Synod.
The Old Testament contained canonical and non-canonical books. When translating the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament, words missing in the Hebrew original, but present in the Septuagint in Greek and the Elizabethan Bible in Church Slavonic, were added to the Russian text (in parentheses). One of the drawbacks of this edition of the Bible was that the "textual" brackets did not differ in appearance from the punctuation brackets. Note that this was Old Russian, which was reformed in 1917 and then in 1956. The language of this Bible has unquestionable literary merit. Because of its emotionality and rhythm, the Russian translation is close in form to prose poems. For example, in this version of the Bible the words are present and spelled as follows: mvro[miro], ѳimiam[incense], svet[light], saint[saint].

1912 The 13th edition of the Russian Bible with non-canonical books is published in St. Petersburg. It is this edition that will be taken in the future as the basic edition for later editions of the Moscow Patriarchate.

1923 The Götze Bible comes out.
The canonical Bible, which Bernard Götze, pastor of Evangelicals in Poland, took as its basis, was printed in Russia. Here is what Götze himself writes in his memoirs: "I was most convinced that the Lord had given me the task of publishing a new edition of the Russian Bible, printed in clear and easy-to-read type. And the last thing I could have imagined myself capable of doing was such a huge and important work. A few of my collaborators and I worked on the preparation of this edition without telling anyone about our work. It was only when the manuscript was ready for printing that we came out in the open. It was not a new translation of the Bible; we only changed a few obsolete expressions. The individual chapters were divided by subtitles according to the editions of the Bible in other languages, and many references to parallel passages were added. Particularly important verses have been given bold typeface. In addition. The Bible was annotated with explanatory notes and colored geographic maps. In the course of this work we took the advice of our Russian friends, missionaries, preachers, priests and Bible school students... We kept the old spelling except for the letter ′, which we removed to reduce the volume by about 70 pages. The new Russian Bible was published two months before the outbreak of World War II. 4000 copies were sold in a very short time at the outbreak of the war. The remaining 6,000 copies were destroyed by the Gestapo. I have documents attesting to this fact. Christians of many countries, especially Holland and Switzerland, participated greatly in the financing of this costly publication. Prince Oscar Bernadotte, brother of the Swedish king, was also among those who helped.

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