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Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Questions of Bartholomew



The paper deals with the Slavonic translation of the apocryphal Questions of Bartholomew, a literary text written most likely in Greek in the 3rd or 4th century.
    
  () -
_full_journalsubtitle: Journal of Patrology and Critical Hagiography
_full_abbrevjournaltitle: SCRI
_full_ppubnumber: ISSN 1817-7530 (print version)
_full_epubnumber: ISSN 1817-7565 (online version)
_full_issue: 1
_full_issuetitle: 0
_full_alt_author_running_head (change var. to _alt_author_rh): 0
_full_alt_articletitle_running_head (change var. to _alt_arttitle_rh): Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal
_full_alt_articletitle_toc: 0
_full_is_advance_article: 0
  () -
Slavonic Translation of the Apocryphal Questions
of Bartholomew
Martina Chromá
Institute of Slavonic Studies, Czech Academy of Sciences
The paper deals with the Slavonic translation of the apocryphal Questions of
Bartholomew, a literary text written most likely in Greek in the 3rd or 4th century.
Questions of Bartholomew – Old Church Slavonic – apocrypha
Apocryphal Questions of Bartholomew ( 228) is a Greek literary text written
most likely in the 3rd or 4th century and later translated into Latin and Old
Church Slavonic. The text survives in three known Greek, two Latin and six
Slavonic manuscripts. Although there have been published some studies sum-
marizing the Greek and Latin versions of the apocryphon already, not much
attention has been paid to the Slavonic translation so far.
The text of the Questions of Bartholomew (further abbreviated as Bart) is
structured in the form of questions and answers. The plot is divided into ve
* The present paper was written with the support of the grant   P406/12/1790 Staroslověnská
lexikologie – nové příspěvky ke staroslověnské lexikograi.
According to some of the newest researches, the apocrypha could not have been written
earlier than in the 4th century, see C. Markschies, “Die Fragen des Bartholomäus,” in: Antike
Christliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung 1/1, eds. C. Markschies and J. Schröter,
Tübingen, 2012, p. 709.
For example J.-D. Kaestli and P. Cherix, L’Évangile de Barthélemy, d’après deux écrits apocryphes,
Turnhout: Brepols, 1993, or Markschies, “Die Fragen des Bartholomäus,” pp. 702-850.
©  , | ./-
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the prevailing -- - License.
 
  () -
chapters of variable length: 1) apostles ask questions to Christ about his de-
scent into Hades and the release of captured Adam and the patriarchs; 2) Vir-
gin Mary tells apostles about the events that preceded the Incarnation of
Christ; 3) apostles beg Christ to show them the apocalyptic abyss; 4) apostles
beg Christ to show them the human adversary and after he does so, they ask
questions to Satan about his persona, angels and about his guilt which led to
his fall from heaven (Slavonic manuscripts contain only verses 1-13 of this
chapter – they end with the description of the chained Satan); 5) apostles ask
questions to Christ about the greatest sin and marriage. Some parts of this last
chapter are supposed to be later additions to the original text as they are pre-
served only in one Latin manuscript.
Bart is a typical New Testament apocryphon written in a simple and lucid
style. Although a number of biblical quotations is mentioned through the
whole text, some heretical elements typical for the Monophysitism or Doce-
tism can also be found there. There is a question whether those elements had
been understood as heretical even in the Slavonic environment in the Middle
Ages. It is known that some heresies (e.g. the Bogomilism and Paulicianism)
occurred in the Slavonic South quite early after the ocial Christianization,
but the situation there seems to be diferent than the one of the Byzantine
Empire which had the greatest inuence on the Balkan church. While the Byz-
antine church administration and hierarchy had been already formed and its
dogmatics was being examined by a series of church councils, the Slavonic
church of that time was just starting to develop. The main task of the Bulgarian
emperors was dealing with the persisting Paganism of the population whilst
the purity of the Christian doctrine had a secondary role. For this reason, it is
assumed that the apocryphal texts weren’t understood categorically as heretic
or false as the priority was the spread of stories linked to the Christian religion.
As shown below, the later purifying of the texts touched even the Slavonic
translation of Bart. Although the genre of the apocryphal literature was very
popular in the Slavonic environment, we don’t know much of the purposes for
which those texts should have served, especially if they were intended for pri-
vate or non-private readings or for some kind of monk’s education in the mon-
asteries or for other purpose.
We are aware of three Greek manuscripts containing the text of the
analysed apocryphon. The rst one is held in the Austrian National Library in
This division into ve chapters and verses was rst made by Nathanael Bonwetsch in his edi-
tion of the Greek Viennese  (see below) and since then it is usually used in the literature
on the apocrypha.
M. Loos, Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages, Prague, 1974, p. 42.
    
  () -
Vienna (Cod. Hist. Graec. 67) and it is dated to the 13th century. Unfortunately,
the majority of the rst chapter is missing – the text contains only the verses
1:28-5:10. The text is divided into two parts (verses 4:54-5:11 and 1:28-4:53) min-
gled with similarly splitted text of the Life of Adam and Eve most likely due to
incorrect binding of the folios. The second Greek  is held in the library of the
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem (Cod. Hierosolymitanus Sabbaticus
13). The whole codex is dated to the turn of the 10th/11th century, but the text
of the Questions of Bartholomew was added on the blank folios just in the 13th
century. Verses 1:1-4:32 of the apocryphon are preserved in this , but the text
is damaged on some places and it contains some omissions as well. The third
Greek manuscript is dated to the 15th century and it is held in Biblioteca Na-
zionale Marciana in Venice (Gr. , 24=1293). This manuscript has not been
mentioned in the research of the apocryphon yet. According to the description
of the codex in the French online catalogue of Greek manuscripts Pinakes, the
text of the apocryphon contain some damages and errors. This  has not
been included even into our research as we learned about its existence only
The Latin translation of the Questions of Bartholomew is preserved in two
manuscripts. The rst one is dated to 11th century and it is held in the Biblio-
teca Casanatense in Rome (Bibl. Casanatense 1880). It contains the most com-
plete text of the apocryphon (verses 1:1-5:11), but some of its parts (especially
the fth chapter) are supposed to be later additions. The second manuscript
is held in the Vatican Library (Vat. Reg. Lat. 1050) and it is dated to the turn of
the 9th and 10th centuries. It contains only few small fragments from the rst
and fourth chapter of the text.
In the context of the state of the text preservation in the Greek and Latin
manuscripts, it is necessary to underline the importance of the Slavonic ver-
The text of Bart by this manuscript has been published twice, see: A. Vasiliev, Anecdota graeco-
byzantina. Pars prior, Moscow, 1893, pp. 10-22, and N. Bonwetsch, “Die Apokryphen Fragen des
Bartholomäus,” Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen.
Philologisch-historische Klasse (1897), . 1-42.
A. Wilmart and E. Tisserant, “Fragments grecs et latins de l’Évangile de Barthelémy,Revue
biblique, 10 (1913), p. 181. The only edition of the text of the apocrypha preserved in this manu-
script was published in this article, see pp. 185-190, 321-333.
“Pinakes. Textes et manuscrits grecs,” n.p. [cited 15 November 2016] Online: <http://pinakes.>.
The text has been published once, see: U. Moricca, “Un nuovo testo dell’Evangelo di
Bartolomeo,Revue biblique, 30 (1921), pp. 481-516, and 31 (1922), pp. 20-30.
The edition of the fragments is included in Wilmart and Tisserant, “Fragments grecs et latins,”
pp. 176-180.
 
  () -
sion for the reconstruction of the original text of the apocryphon. This applies
especially to the rst chapter, from which the Viennese Greek manuscript is
missing most of the verses and the Jerusalem is partially damaged. Thus,
only the Slavonic and Latin versions can be compared, even if they difer from
each other in certain parts. There is a chance that the already mentioned Greek
Venetian  will shed some light on this problem, but this is a task for our fu-
ture research.
There are six known manuscripts containing the Slavonic translation of
Bart. Most of them have been described in the catalogue of Slavonic apocry-
pha of Aurelio de Santos Otero. Although three of these manuscripts have
been published already, we’ve been working directly with all of the manu-
scripts during our research.
Abbr.  mark and location Origin and datation Text included
D Deč.  ( Belgrade) Serb., end of th ct. :-:
P Kir.-Bel. - ( St.
Russ., beginning of
th ct.
V Cod. Vind. Slav.  (
Serb., th ct. :-:
U Uvar.  ( Moscow) Russ.,  Excerpts from
chapters ,  and 
B Bars.  ( Moscow) Russ., th/th ct. Chapter 
T F. . Op. . D.  (
Russ., th ct. Chapter 
The oldest manuscript was at the same time the last to be found as it was rst
described and published by Anissava Miltenova in 2010. It is held in the col-
lection of the Dečani monastery of the Serbian National Library (Deč. 103) and
it is dated to the end of the 14th century. Only a part of the rst chapter of the
text (verses 1:1-1:23) is preserved there, while the remaining parts of the manu-
script are lost.
10 A. de Santos Otero, Handschriftliche Überlieferung der altslavischen Apokryphen, Bd. 2,
Berlin – New York, 1981, . 56-59.
11 . , “         
 ,” in: Пяние мало Георгию: сборник в чест на 65-годишнината на
проф. дфн Георги Попов, Soa, 2010, pp. 464-477.
    
  () -
The second oldest Slavonic  is held in the collection of the Kirillo-Beloz-
ersky Monastery of the Russian National Library in Saint Petersburg (Kir-Bel
4-1081) and it is dated to the beginning of the 15th century. The codex is known
under the name Paisievski sbornik and the text of the apocryphon has been
published two times already.
The next manuscript is held in the Austrian National Library in Vienna
(Cod. Slav. 125) and it is dated to the 16th century. In this miscellany, the text of
the apocryphon is split into two parts sequenced in diferent order than in the
other manuscripts – it starts with chapters 2-4, after which the text of the John
the Baptist’s Descent into Hades is added, whilst the chapter 1 of Bart is placed
just after this text. There is a presumption that this Serbian line of manu-
scripts came from the Russian environment as there are few Eastern-Slavic or-
thographical elements in the text.
The last three manuscripts haven’t been published yet. One of them is from
the Uvarov collection of the State Historical Museum in Moscow (Uvar. 884). It
has been written in 1602 and it contains excerpts from the rst, third and fourth
chapter. The other two manuscripts contain only the rst chapter of the apoc-
ryphon. The rst one is held in the Barsov collection of the State Historical
Museum in Moscow (Bars. 2730) and it is dated to the turn of the 17th and 18th
century. The second one is located in the State Archive of the Tver Region in
the city of Tver (F. 1409. Op. 3. D. 25). This manuscript is the youngest one as it
is dated to the 18th century. In comparison with the other Slavonic versions,
this manuscript contains a number of later additions to the text.
Despite the fact that all Greek and Latin manuscripts originally included the
whole text of the chapters 1-4, the Slavonic manuscripts show three diferent
length types: the long one containing the text of the chapters 1:1-4:13, the ab-
breviated one with excerpts from chapters 1, 3 and 4, and the short one with
only the chapter 1 included.
The long version can be found in the manuscripts V and P. We suppose that
 D also represented the long version before some of its parts got lost, be-
cause the title of the apocryphon is similar the  V and P unlike the title
with the specication of questioning Christ in manuscripts B and T.
The abbreviated version with excerpts of the chapters 1, 3 and 4 is preserved
only in manuscript U. This abbreviation may be related to the style of the
12 .. , Ложные и отреченные книги русской старини ( 
 , 3), Saint Petersburg, 1862, pp. 109-112; .. , Памят-
ники отреченной русской литературы, vol. , Moscow:, 1863, pp. 18-22.
13 .. , Следы народной библии в славянской и в древне-русской писмен-
ности, Odessa, 1893, pp. 276-281.
 
  () -
whole codex, in which 65 diferent texts sequenced in accordance with the
Eastern church calendar are placed. Taking into the cosideration the amount
of the texts, the shortening of plots wouldn’t be exceptional. Even though the
feast of St. Bartholomew is celebrated on August 24 in the Western Church and
on June 11 in the Eastern one, the apocryphon is placed behind the text of the
Martyrdom of prince Gleb dated to July 24 to which St. Bartholomew doesn’t
have any connection.
The third version is the shortest one containing only the chapter one. It is
preserved in  B and T. This shortening was probably made because of the
special topic of the Christ’s descent into Hades which has been in the Slavonic
environment quite popular as it is shown e.g. in the Slavonic translations of the
Gospel of Nicodeme or the Homily on the Descent into Hades by Epiphanius of
Cyprus. The text shortening of the apocryphon in two diferent manuscripts
may indicate the existence of a separate short redaction of the text. However,
according to our research and comparison of the manuscripts we assume that
the versions B and T were shortened independently as each one of them refers
to another hyparchetype of the text (see below).
With exception of the already mentioned  U, the Slavonic codices con-
taining Bart are constructed as miscellanies of mixed content including unor-
dered apocrypha, homilies, legends, etc. The similarities can be found just
between the manuscripts V and B which are also the closest ones from the
point of view of textual criticism. Both of these miscellanies include also the
text of the shortest recension of the Second Book of Henoch and the John the
Baptist’s Descent into Hades which is placed next to Bart, apparently because of
the topic’s similarity.
The apocryphon has been translated into Old Church Slavonic only once
which means that all extant manuscripts refer to just one unpreserved arche-
type. In comparison to the Greek version of the apocryphon, the translation is
a literary one without using any extraordinary lexical, morphological or syn-
tactic gures. In certain parts, the Slavonic version is closer to the Viennese
Greek manuscript, but in the other ones, it is closer to the Jerusalem . That’s
14 Gospel of Nicodeme has been translated into Old Church Slavonic at least twice – from
Latin and from Greek. The popularity of this text in the Slavonic environment is evi-
denced in the great number of extent manuscripts, see: de Santos Otero, Handschriftliche
Überlieferung, . 61-98.
15 This translation is preserved in the Codex Suprasliensis and in the German’s Miscellany,
see: . -, . , Хомилията на Епифаний за слизането в
ада, Soa, 1975.
    
  () -
why it is not possible to choose only one of the Greek versions for the research,
but it is necessary to reect both of them.
Two diferent redactions can be found in the manuscripts – the rst one
preserves the text in the form of the presumed archetype of the translation
( D, P, U and T), while the second redaction ( V and B) is developed
from the unpreserved hyparchetype I in which the text was slightly modied:
There is a number of similarities between the  V and B, but one of the most
important modications of the text was made due to the heretical elements
present at the beginning of the rst chapter. These elements are related to the
question of the narration time: whether the apostles are talking to Christ (and
asking him about his descent into Hades) before or after his resurrection:
Jerusalem: Μετ τν κ νεκρν νστασιν (=after resurrection)
Casanatense: In illo tempore antequam pateretur dominus (=before the
D, P, U, T: прⷣѣ вьскрⷭениѥⷨⷨ изь мрⸯтвихь (=before resurrection)
V, B:  въскрсенїи из мрьтвыиⷯ (=after resurrection)
According to the Christian dogmatics, the apostles could meet Christ before
his death or after his resurrection, but not in the meantime. From the other
hand, following the Monophysite or Docetic heresy, they could meet him in
that time, because the Christ’s resurrection represents his return to the full di-
vinity which is not bearable for human beings. Confusing statement in the
Latin version and diferent variants in the Slavonic  lead us to conclusion
that in the direct Greek unpreserved pattern of the Slavonic translation, the
statement „before resurrection“ was placed, but later it was evaluated as some-
thing wrong, so it had to be corrected.
The Slavonic translation was made in Bulgaria in the 10th century and most
likely in a place connected with the Preslav Literary School. This could be evi-
denced by the lexical elements typical for this period, e.g. the multiple usage of
 
  () -
ptc. обрадованаꙗ for the Greek κεχαριτωµένη addressing to Virgin Mary instead
of archaic благодатнаꙗ, or the subst. верига for Greek λυσι instead of archaic
ѫже желѣзьноѥ, adv. тъчиѭ for Greek µόνον instead of тъкъмо etc.
On the other hand, the text shows some archaic elements with known
Preslav innovating equivalents. This could lead us to two possible conclusions.
First, the translation was done early in the 10th century in a time when the ar-
chaic elements had not been replaced yet by the Preslav innovations. Second,
the translation could have been done some time during the 10th century in
one of the scriptoria applying specic rules on the usage of archaisms and
preslavisms. However, as the exact role of the preslavisms and their function in
the wider Slavonic context has not been satisfactorily stated yet, we keep the
question of a more precise dating open. Either way from the linguistic, lexical
and extra-linguistic perspective, the extant Slavonic manuscripts do not raise
doubts that the translation was made in Bulgaria in the 10th century.
As the translation is preserved in two manuscripts referring to the Serbian
redaction of Church Slavonic and in four manuscripts referring to the Russian
redaction, there is a question on the text spreading through the Slavic environ-
ment. We cannot exclude a possibility that the text was included in the large
Bulgarian Imperial Library. This library was taken by the Byzantian emperor
John I Tzimiskes in 970-972 and moved rst to Constantinople and later to
Kievan Rus’ where it is supposed to be still held as a whole piece until the Mon-
gol invasion. In that period it was probably as a whole piece destroyed. As a
lot of other texts, the apocrypha enjoyed quite a popularity in the Russian en-
vironment. We suppose that the text was transferred to Serbia from Russia as
there were established strong cultural contacts between the Grand Duchy of
Moscow, Second Bulgarian Empire and Serbia under the reign of the Nemanjić
dynasty, nevertheless it cannot be exluded that the text arrived there directly
from Bulgaria.
At the very end of this contribution, we would like to present our future
plans with our research on the Slavonic version of the Questions of Bartholom-
ew. The rst step will be the evaluation of the Venetian Greek manuscript and
16 For more of this topic see the survey of preslavisms in Bart in: M. Chromá, “
   ,” Studia Ceranea, 4 (2014),
pp. 27-34, or the contribution dedicated to analysis of the biblical quotations: M. Chromá,
“Biblické citáty v apokryfních Otázkách Bartolomějových,Slavia, 85 (2016), pp. 287-302.
17 .. , Межславянские культурные связи эпохи средневековья и источникове-
дение истории и культуры славян, Moscow, 2012, p. 201.
18 , Межславянские культурные связи, pp. 262-285, 519-583.
    
  () -
its comparison with the other Greek versions and with the Slavonic transla-
tion. As soon as this is completed, we plan to publish a monograph by 2019. The
monograph will include a comprehensive study, critical edition of the Slavonic
text including variant readings from all Slavonic manuscripts and also with the
parallel Greek and Latin versions. Both Old Church Slavonic Greek and Greek
– Old Church Slavonic indices will also be included, so the lexical material of
the apocryphon will be further usable for the comparison with other Old
Church Slavonic texts translated from Greek. Publication of the monograph
will be supported by the project : Digital Portal of Old Church Slavon-
ic, which is currently carried out in the Institute of Slavonic studies of the
Czech Academy of Sciences.
19 “: Digital Portal of Old Church Slavonic,” n.p. [cited 15 November 2016] Online:
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Paper deals with the lexical analysis of the Old Church Slavonic version of the Apocryphal Questions of Bartholomew, a literary monument written most likely in Greek in the 3rd century. The analysis shows that the Slavonic version contains not only lexical elements typical for the Preslav redaction, but also some archaic figures. This leads to the conclusion, that the primal Old Church Slavonic translation may be made in Bulgaria in the 10th century. There are two possibilities of a more exact dating. The text may have been translated in the early 10th century when the lexical elements of the Preslav redaction weren’t strictly used yet and still there occurred many archaic figures. The second possibility is that the translation was made later in the 10th century in one of the distant centers of the Preslav literary school, in which a specific tradition in using Preslav and archaic lexical elements was held. However, a further lexical and language analysis is needed for the confirmation of the stated dating.
Межславянские культурные связи эпохи средневековья и источниковедение истории и культуры славян
  • А А Турилов
А.А. Турилов, Межславянские культурные связи эпохи средневековья и источниковедение истории и культуры славян, Moscow, 2012, p. 201.
Межславянские культурные связи
  • Турилов
Турилов, Межславянские культурные связи, pp. 262-285, 519-583.