The Feast Days of Slavic Saints as Part of the Stishnoy Prologue from the 15th – 17th Centuries
Keywords:Old Church Slavonic writings of the 15th – 17th centuries; Stishnoy Prologue; the feast days of Slavic saints; textology; typology of manuscripts
This article studies the structure of the Stishnoy Prologue (Synaxarion), an artefact of Old Church Slavonic writing containing brief lives of the saints, hagiography, and moralising stories arranged in accordance with the calendar. There are many unsolved issues concerning the history of the translation of the Stishnoy Prologue into the Slavic language and its existence in Russia between the 14th and 17th centuries. These issues have to do with the sources, the peculiarities of its copies, and the role played by the hagiographies and moralising texts in different manuscripts. The author aims to clarify the structure of the Stishnoy Prologue and the description of Slavic saints’ lives corresponding to their anniversaries. In order to draw a typological classification of the 40 copies of the spring and summer parts of the Stishnoy Prologue from the 15th–17th centuries in their Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian versions, the author uses the linguo-textological method, dividing all the manuscripts into five groups. As a result of the study, the author singles out nine hagiographies devoted to Slavic saints and supposedly written by Slavic authors. Three saints’ lives describing the earliest events in Christian history (early 4th century AD, 351, 812) can be found in all the copies of the document, which means these texts were part of the original Slavic translation of the Stishnoy Prologue from Greek. The commemoration of Holy Prince Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czechs can be found in all the Russian copies, while the life of Methodius, Bishop of Moravia (characterising the Khutyn group of manuscripts), was included into the Stishnoy Prologue after its appearance in Russia in the 14th century. Additionally, the author discovered descriptions of the lives of the most venerated Bulgarian St John of Rila and St Prince Lazar of Serbia in only two out of the fifteen South Slavic manuscripts, both dating back to the 17th century. This testifies to the fact that the South Slavs demonstrated a stronger adherence to tradition when copying texts. The author also points out that the life of the Bulgarian St George the New can only be found in the 16th-century copy of the Stishnoy Prologue. It also contains a number of Russian and Slavic saints canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church after the Councils of 1547 and 1549. Finally, the author concludes that the presence of the lives of Slavic saints in the Stishnoy Prologue is an important typological feature to be taken into account when characterising the existing manuscripts.
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