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orion-list Slavonic Josephus

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The standard edition is still

N. A. Meshcherskij, _Istorija Iudejskoj vojny Iosifa Flavija v
drevne-russkom perevode. [History of the Jewish War by Joseph Flavius in the
Old Russian translation]. Moscow--Leningrad: Akademia Nauk SSSR, 1958. 578

I has been told that some people in Moscow are now preparing a new edition
because of some important shortcoming of that of Meshcherskij.

The late Meshcherskij was a proponent of an odd and absolutely fantastic
hypothesis that there was, in Kiev in the 11th and 12th centuries, a group
of translators from Hebrew which was in a close contact with the local
Jewish community. The real fact here is only the existence of such a

M. failed to demonstrate that: 1/ these translations were made from Hebrew
(in fact, from Greek), 2/ ... in Kiev Rus' (instead of Bulgaria, in an
earlier epoch), 3/ ...there is any real connection between Slav. Josephus
and Hebrew Yosippon.

On the whole issue, see:

H. G. Lunt, M. Taube. Early East Slavic Translations from Hebrew?, _Russian
Linguistics_ 12 (1988) 147-187

H. G. Lunt. Did Jaroslav the Wise sponsor translations into Slavonic?,
Studies on the Slavo-Byzantine and West-European Middle Ages. In memoriam
Ivan Dujcev. Sofia, 1988 (Studia Slavico-Byzantina et Mediaevalia
Europensia, vol. I). [sorry for not having page numbers handy; here the
question of SlJos is discussed]

M. Altbauer, M. Taube. The Slavonic Book of Esther: When, Where, and from
What Language was it Translated?, _Harvard Ukrainian Studies_ 8 (1984)
304-320 [re: another major item of Meshcherskij's set.]

Some valuable bibliography see in the recent edition of the Oldest Slavonic
Esther (by the same Altbauer and Taube, Jerusalem; sorry for lack of ref.

In sum: SlJos is a translation of a lost Byzantine text which was not,
however, widely known in the contemporary Byzantium. As in several other
cases, it is rather difficult to know what milieu disposed of the Greek
originals of oldest Slavonic translated texts. Sometimes I'm seriously
inclined to look for Syrian missionaries -- but I have nothing to say about

Basil Lourie
revue _Xristianskij Vostok_
St. Petersburg, Russia

For private reply, e-mail to "Basil Lourie" <byzros@infopro.spb.su>
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