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The Ostrog Bible

The exhibition is timed to the Day of the Orthodox Book and the 450th anniversary of the Apostle by Ivan Fedorov.

On March 14th, the Belarusian Orthodox Church celebrates the Day of the Orthodox Book. The annual celebration was established in 2009 by the Synod of Russian Orthodox Church. It is timed to the publication of the first Russian dated printed book Apostle by Ivan Fedorov (1564). In 2014 is the 450th anniversary of this significant edition.

The Ostrog Bible is the first fullest and the best for those days translation of the Bible into the Church Slavonic language. The book was printed by Ivan Fedorov in Ostrog in 1581 under the initiative and with the financial support of Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky and with the blessing given by Father-Superior Dubensky Iov.

The Ostrog Bible consists of 76 books of the Old and the New Testament. Writers, translators and editors of the time gathered in Ostrog to prepare this edition of the Bible, and they did a huge work on comparative analysis, translation and edition of various texts. Most likely, Gerasim Smotritsky, rector of the Ostrozhsky Academy, supervised this process. A person with the highest education for those time, he became the first official Russian poet, and his verses in the Ostrog Bible describing the arms of Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky – the first Russian literary verses.

Publication of the Ostrog Bible played a crucial role in Orthodox education. For the Russian Orthodox Church this Bible became the example of language standard and the basis for the Grammar (1619) by Meletyi Smotritsky which, since the 17th century, had determined the forms of the Church Slavonic language.

Ivan Fedorov supervised printing of the Bible. As well as all the editions by this outstanding first printer, the Ostrog Bible is typeset and made perfectly. So-called “Ostrozhsky” font was specially cast to be used for the basic text. Many methods of decorating Ivan Fedorov used creating the Ostrog Bible became subsequently characteristic for the Ukrainian and Belarusian book publishing.

The Ostrog Bible is published in folio. It contains 628 sheets and is decorated with a xylographic cover frame, the arms of Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky and Ivan Fedorov’s printed sign. The central part of a headpiece opening the basic text of the Ostrog Bible is imprinted from a plate from the Apostle (1564), as well as the form of cartouche for the arms of Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky on the reverse side of the title page. Drawings feature mainly vegetative elements. The whole design of the Ostrog Bible is strict and simple, with no figured engravings.

The volume of 1256 pages was published in 1500 copies that was a considerable circulation for those days. The initiator of the edition, Prince Konstantin Ostrozhsky, presented the Bible to Pope Gregory XIII, and Ivan the Terrible – to Queen’s Messenger Jerome Gorsey. The book belonged to Swedish king Gustav II Adolf is also known. At present only 260 copies of the Ostrog Bible remain (fully or partially preserved). They are kept in museums, libraries and archives of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, France and many other countries. Two original copies of this ancient monument of the Orthodox Beliefs are kept in the stocks of the National Library of Belarus.

For more information, please, call: (375 17) 293 25 85.