FROM THE FIRST PRINTED SLAVONIC BIBLE

Biblia sirech knigi vetkhago i novago saveta [Ostrog Bible]

Ostrog, Ivan Fëdorov, 1581

FIRST EDITION. Folio. ff. 144 [ff. 185-276 of 276 in Section I, 1-53 of 180 in Section II]. Old Church Slavonic, double column, occasional titles in red. Decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. First a bit dust-soiled, a few ll. lightly browned, some faint marginal waterstaining, heavier to inner corners, scattered wax stains, a little thumbing, minor early repair to couple of ll., one affecting a few letters, tiny marginal worm holes to outer edges of last gathering, one leaf partially detached at gutter. A good copy, on thick paper, crisp and in fine impression, in contemporary sprinkled calf over pasteboards, printed waste (early C17 German account of Boris Godunov) used to reinforce joints, double blind ruled borders, gilt floral cornerpieces, gilt lozenge-shaped floral centrepiece, all edges sprinkled red and black-brown, some loss to corners and head and tail of spine.

A selection in crisp and fine impression of the Books of the Old Testament from the so-called ‘Ostrog Bible’ (‘Острожская Библия’) of 1581, the first Slavonic bible printed with Cyrillic movable types. This copy contains the complete texts of Chronicles I and II, Ezra I and II, Nehemia, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Wisdom. It was published by Ivan Fëdorov, one of the fathers of Russian printing. After founding the Moscow Pechatnyj Dvor (Printing Yard), he travelled throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth establishing several printing presses, including one in Ostrog, Ukraine. The Ostrog Bible enterprise, funded by the prince Konstantin Ostrogski, included a thorough search and collation of manuscript sources in order to make the edition a milestone of the Slavonic Orthodox doctrine in face of Catholic and Protestant theological attacks. The translation was eventually based on the Greek Septuagint and the monumental text decorated with bespoke woodcut headpieces and initials. Part was printed in 1580, when the Psalms and New Testament were published separately; the Old Testament, in need of heavier editing, was published in 1581. The print-run was c.1000-1500 copies, two of which were donated to Pope Gregory XIII and Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible; when Fëdorov left Ostrog, he brought with him c.400 copies, many of which were incomplete. After his death, the inventory of his books included 120 complete (in sheets) and 80 incomplete bibles. c.350 copies in one state or another are recorded extant. The next Russian Bible, a revised edition, was not printed until 1663.

Izdanija kirillicheskoj pechati, 80; Pozdeeva, Katalog knigi kirillicheskoj pechati, 32; Cleminson, Cyrillic Books, 35; Darlow and Moule, II/3, 8370. Not in Zernova.

L2907

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