Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

Slavonic pseudepigrapha и советская интеллигенция ))

начну потихоньку "вылаживать" очередную статью "по поводу, но не только":

Early Christian and late Jewish traditions in a recent book

Е. Г. ВОДОЛАЗКИН, Всемирная история в литературе Древней Руси (на материале хронографического и палейного повествования XI–XV веков). 2-е издание, переработанное и дополненное (Спб.: Изд-во «Пушкинский Дом», 2008) (Серия «Библиотека Пушкинского Дома»). 494 с., 8 цветных илл. ISBN 978-5-91476-007-3.
Ye. G. VODOLAZKIN, The World History in the Literature of Old Rus’ (according to the data of the Chronographs and Palaeas of the 11th—15th centuries). 2nd edition, reworked and augmented (St Petersburg: “Pushkinsky Dom”, 2008) (Series “Library of Pushkinsky Dom”). 494 p., 8 colour ill., German Zusammenfassung, p. 468–472.

The author presents an improved and enlarged edition of his monograph first appeared in 2000 in Munich under the same title, also in Russian (in the series “Sagners Slavistische Sammlung”, Bd. 26). Despite the fact that it is focused on the problems of the Russian mediaeval historical monuments, about a half of the book is interesting in a larger context of the Christian Orient and the early Christian and the Jewish pre-Rabbinical traditions.xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

The author, in collaboration with Tatiana Rudi, provides the first critical edition of the so-called Prophecy of Solomon (previously widely known under the title Slovesa svjatyx prorok “Words of Holy Prophets”), and this fact alone is enough to make his book worth of attention of everybody interesting in the Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha. This is not the only interesting part of the monograph, though.

Two first chapters of the book (Introduction, p. 9–38, and “Historiography as Theology”, p. 39–159), as well as the fourth (“Chronicle of Georges Hamartolos, the main source of the Russian Chronography”, p. 209–236) are deeply immerged in the centuries-old discussions between the specialists in the Old Russian literature and are hardly comprehensible to the outsiders. Some mentions of “theology” are not very offering: to put his observations into some methodological frame, the author quotes a few modern theological works almost all of them belonging to German scholars. However, where the author has no German book to quote, and so, remains free from his puzzling attraction to the German theology, he could be able to provide some sharp observations.

For instance, he makes an important conclusion on the nature of the calculations in the chronographs—that is, let us add, a fortiori applicable to the hagiography:

 “In the chronographs, there are, in general, quite a few numbers. It is difficult to point out another genre where such an amount of dimensions, ages, dates, etc. is précised. At first glance, it could look a bit odd given that we are dealing with the history very remote, ‘epic’, having a highly symbolical sense. Nevertheless, from the theological tradition’s viewpoint, the number has been especially important proof of symbolical and multi-dimensional nature of the corresponding event. Despite its apparent belonging to the ‘reality’, the number demonstrated the metaphysical essence of the object. It was a kind of code to the object, and this attitude toward the numbers goes back to the Old Testament” (p. 89).


This is why, in the chronographs, obvious contradictions between different modes of calculation are so often tolerated. Some numbers result from the calculations of arithmetical nature, some others from symbolical considerations. The most known example is the date of the birth of Christ: AM 5500 according to the most of symbolical chronologies, but eight years earlier according to the most common in Old Rus’ Byzantine chronology that was used to practical purposes.

Vodolazkin’s book is an important achievement in the systematic representation of the chronological data relating to the Biblical and early Christian history. Even if we have here only most obvious comparisons with the Byzantine sources (the author does not quote any study on the Byzantine chronology published after La Chronologie de Venance Grumel, 1958, nor any study at all on the chronologies of either Christian Orient or late Judaism), Vodolazkin provides in a digestible form a valuable raw material to the furthers students of Christian and Jewish chronological traditions. The pertinent parts of his monograph are chapter 3 (“Chronology of Russian chronography”, p. 161–208) and Appendices 1–3 (p. 319–388).

Another part of Vodolazkin’s work is dedicated to the matters related to the natural sciences (almost the whole chapter 5 “‘Natural sciences’, supernatural, providential matters”, p. 237–293). There are here, among others, an interesting sketch on the sirens in the Byzantine and Old Slavonic/Russian sources (p. 270–275) and an especially important essay on the Arabic planet names in some Russian astronomical/astrological texts (p. 239–251). These names have been identified as Arabic already by Gorsky and Nevostruev in 1862 and, since then, were studied in details several times. Nevertheless, Vodolazkin managed to bring some new testimonies and, on their ground, to put forward important textological and palaeographical considerations helping to clarify the case very much.

Vodolazkin declines both hypothesis of a Bulgarian scholar M. Racheva (1981) that these Arabic names were borrowed through an intermediary of an oral tradition in either Persian or one of the Turkic languages of the Volga region and that of Franz von Miklosich (1884—1890) that the intermediary language was Osmanic Turkish. Vodolazkin is especially convincing in proving that the Arabic names have been borrowed from a written tradition, and so, Racheva’s arguments based on the pronunciation fail (p. 249–250).  However, he has no idea about the precise source of the borrowing. As to the date, he limits himself to propose (from textological considerations) as a terminus ad quem the first half of the 15th century (p. 249). Vodolazkin is inclined to think that the source of the Russian borrowing was an astronomical treatise in Arabic, and so, he rejects Miklosich’s hypothesis about an Osmanic Turkish intermediary as superfluous (p. 250–251).

From the linguistic viewpoint, Vodolazkin’s exposition is rather vague; even author’s transliterations of the Arabic words are ignoring contemporary conventions and inadequate to the standards of modern scholarly publications. He does not states clearly why these words should be considered as Arabic rather than taken from another Semitic language and why Greek or Latin intermediary should be excluded. The cause of the latter is, however, obvious—presence of š in šimes or šimos “Sun” (cf. Arabic šams). The distinction between š and s in the name of Sun is one of the clear features of a South Semitic language (in the case of a North Semitic language, such as Hebrew or Aramaic/Syriac, we would expect, in Slavonic, the consonant order š-m-š)­. Any other than (North) Arabic South Semitic language (such as South Arabic or Gecez), while probably compatible with the Slavonic transliterations, would be here much more unexpected. Therefore, the Ockham’s razor makes us opt for a direct borrowing into Slavonic (Russian?) document from an Arabic source.

We know nothing about the historical situation underlying the apparition of such documents in Slavonic (Russian), and this is just another illustration of the fact that our knowledge of the cultural contacts of Old Rus’ is severely limited. One should add that there could be another possibility of an intermediary language that is still unchecked, a European vernacular language. Indeed, a number of Arabic star names are preserved in the European languages up today. It is not to exclude that there was a vernacular European text containing Arabic list of the planet names produced with no Latin intermediary.

Here we can stop our review of the book as a whole and to concentrate ourselves on its most important contribution, the publication of the Prophecy of Solomon. It occupies the final part of the fifth chapter (p. 293–311, an introduction to the publication) and Appendix 4 (p. 389–467, publication itself). I will discuss the problems and the merits of Vodolazkin’s and Rudi’s publication of this important monument in a separate review published as a supplement to the present one.

In sum, the monograph is certainly a valuable contribution to the study of the afterlife of the Jewish and Early Christian legacy in the literature of Old Rus’. Its interest is not limited to the Byzantine chronographic traditions and their derivates in the East Slavonic realm.



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