On March 14, the Belarusian Orthodox Church celebrates the Day of the Orthodox Book, timed to coincide with the publication of the first dated printed book by Ivan Apostle (March 1, 1564). The purpose of the holiday is to remember the importance of the book in the life of each of us. The most significant and sought-after translated book of all time is, of course, the Bible.
This year marks the 440th anniversary of the publication of the first complete and best translation of the Bible into Church Slavonic for its time, the Ostroh Bible.
Ivan Fedorov published the book in Ostroh in 1581 at the initiative and at the expense of Prince Kanstantsin Astrozhski with the blessing of hegumen Iov Dubensky.
The Ostroh Bible consists of 76 books of the Old and New Testaments. Gerasim Smotritsky, Rector of the Ostroh Academy compiled the preface. Among the sources used to translate some parts, the translations and works by Francysk Skaryna were mentioned.
The volume of 1,256 pages was published with a circulation of 1,000–1,500 copies, which was quite considerable for that time. Ivan Fedorov directed the printing process. The Ostroh Bible was published in folio. To print the main text, the "Ostroh" font was designed and cast. The volume of the text is approximately 3,240,000 characters. The publication is decorated with a woodcut title frame, the coat of arms of Prince Kanstantsin Astrozhski and the seal of Ivan Fedorov. Numerous techniques of decoration, which Ivan Fedorov used during the creation of the publication, later became characteristic of the Ukrainian and Belarusian book printing.
The publication of the Ostroh Bible played an important role in Orthodox enlightenment and education. For the Russian Orthodox Church, this Bible became the bearer of the linguistic norm of the Church Slavonic language.
Today, copies of the Ostroh Bible are kept in museums, libraries, archives in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, France and other countries of the world. There is information that the initiator of the publication, Prince Kanstantsin Astrozhski, presented the Bible to Pope Gregory XIII, and Ivan the Terrible – to Jerome Horsey, the envoy of the Queen of England. A copy of the publication belonged to the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf.
The collections of the National Library of Belarus contain two original copies of this ancient monument of the Orthodox Church. You can see them in the Manuscripts, Rare Publications and Early Printed Books Reading Room (room 348) until March 21, 2021. Come and check out!
The end date is subject to change.
The opening hours of the exhibition correspond to the opening hours of the Manuscripts, Rare Publications and Early Printed Books Reading Room.
Admission is by the library card or by the Social and Cultural Centre ticket.
For more info: (+375 17) 293 27 22.
Bibliology Research Department