Old Slavonic manuscripts online

A comment on this post leads us to a wonderland of Old Slavonic patristic manuscripts, all online and in full colour.  I will repeat some of the information here.

I wonder if you know about this website: http://www.stsl.ru/manuscripts . This an online collection of manuscripts from the former library of St.Sergius Monastery near Moscow, now in the Russian National Library.

Now I know no Cyrillic.  But Google translate does!


The Russian-text images on the left are not translated, but if you hover the mouse over them, English text appears!

Then I clicked on the “Main Library” link.  This takes you straight to a catalogue.  OK, it’s a bit wonky, and you have to be a bit imaginative, but it’s perfectly usable for English-speakers, thanks to Google; and this link takes us to a list of manuscripts in the main library collection.  And if you click on the book, you get a detailed catalogue of the ms, and then a box at the bottom to ask for the folio!  This is SUPER!!!

  • No 6 is the Explanation of Revelation by the catenist Andrew of Caesarea.
  • No 7 is the Instructions of Ephrem Syrus.
  • No 8 is Gregory the Theologian.
  • No 10 is The Ladder of John Climacus.  There are loads more of this further down.
  • 124-5 are Cyril of Jerusalem
  • 126-8 are Ephrem, although 128 is not online.
  • 129-135 are Basil the Great
  • 154 is Antiochus the monk — I’m pretty sure he turned up in Harnack’s catalogue.
  • 172-5 is Isaac the Syrian, although whether anyone can stomach his mystical teachings I don’t know.  (Maybe it’s just that the English translation of his work is so bad)
  • 176-7 are John Damascene.
  • 178 is Theodore the Studite.
  • 180 is Symeon the New Theologian
  • Lives of the Saints start to appear around 680-ish
  • 687-690 are “Barlaam and Joasaph Indian and Theodore edesskago”; i.e. Theodore of Edessa.
  • 728 is a chronography!  Yes, it’s a world history.  The catalogue is worth a read here.

There are loads of biblical manuscripts in here.  Of course you have to wade through synodicons, and all the stuff that makes up the bulk of ecclesiastical libraries.  But … this is simply splendid!

My next stop was the search facility.  As expected, entering “eusebius” made no sense to the Cyrillic engine.  So I went back to Google translate, entered “Eusebius” into it and got out “Евсевий” in Russian.  I tried this; but it didn’t work.  Then I tried “Gregory”, got “Григорий” and tried that.  That didn’t work either.  Hum.  Lack of a search engine we can use is a problem.

Another collection is here.  These are not as well catalogued, but the images are top-notch.  Dionysius the Areopagite, the “Creation Methodius of Patara”… hmm!.  #75 is a Slavonic ms of Cosmas Indicopleustes!  #100 is the Annals of George Hamartolus; 102 is Cosmas again; 146 is Chrysostom.  I got to ca. 239, but have to stop there.

The mss are late, but so what?  They’re accessible!!!

But all the same, this is really wonderful!  The images are gorgeous, undefiled, and quite fit for any scholarly study imaginable (other than examining the stitching of the book!)  Frankly this is how it should be done!  Who, I wonder, did this?  I wish I knew the names of those involved, for they deserve a big cheer!


6 thoughts on “Old Slavonic manuscripts online

  1. May I suggest another way to look for the authors you’re interested in in this catalogue?
    The Russian forms, like for instance Евсевий (Eusebius), is a nominative. Now the titles in this catalogue repeat literally the mss., which have them mostly in the genitive (e.g. like you would have in Latin “Eusebii… oratio de whatever-you-like”). I think the genitive, i.e. Евсевия (Eusebii), Григория (Gregorii), could work better.

  2. Good thought, but still nothing. I’ve gone back into the catalogue, and got hold of “Ефрема Сирина Поучения” (Ephrem, Instructions). I think we can see which is “Ephrem”. Let’s see if we can find *that*. We know it’s in the catalogue!

    And that doesn’t work either. Drat it, what does one have to do to make this “search” work?

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