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Ostromir Gospel


About the Manuscript

Significance of the Manuscript

The Ostromir Gospels is a landmark of the global significance that survives from as early as the mid-eleventh century. It is now housed in the National Library of Russia. This priceless manuscript occupies a very special place among the most valuable Russia's heritages.

What is the uniqueness of the Ostromir Gospel?

Of course, this is a very old book that is luxuriously decorated and contains the sacred Gospel text on its pages. But dozens of medieval manuscripts, genuine masterpieces of art, have come down to us. The oldest known manuscripts of the New Testament date back to the 2nd century. The Old Testament manuscript tradition is traced to the end of the last era.

Its exceptional significance lies in the fact that it is the earliest surviving East Slavic dated manuscript book: the scribe indicated a precise date when the Gospel was written. Since the 11th century, only about two dozen Old Russian books have come down to the present, and, in most cases, these are fragments. The Ostromir Gospel has remained intact. The Ostromir Gospel really marks the origins of Russian writing and culture. In modern times, this book played a key role in the study of the Old Slavonic language and literature.

The manuscript is concluded by the scribe's afterword about the circumstances of its creation. The Epilogue of Deacon Gregory leaves no doubt that the Ostromir Gospel sent the world a clear message. It announced Russia as a strong part of the Christian world. The concept brought this book and the young Russian state into the mainstream of the global centuries-old Christian culture. All elements of the manuscriprt: its language, text, decoration are intended to express this idea. The same concept is manifested in the symbolic meaning of the start and end dates, indicated by the Deacon Gregory. These dates, as we shall see, are not accidental.