Slavonic Parabiblical Traditions


The appreciation of Slavonic parabiblical heritage goes far beyond its significance for Slavonic studies. Even though the Church Slavonic MSS containing witnesses to Judaeo-Christian apocryphal and pseudepigraphic writings may date from a relatively late period, they are considered to be offspring of much earlier texts (originally in Hebrew and Aramaic, but also in Greek, as well as Syriac and Latin). For many of these compositions, their Vorlagen may be dated to the early Second Temple period. Hence the study of Slavonic parabiblical writings can contribute significantly to a better understanding of Judaism of the Hellenistic age and thus of the roots of Rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Gnosticism, and later mystical thought. Slavonic translations of Byzantine Chronographic accounts will also be treated. Not only are parabiblical written texts to be included within this purview, but also iconography and vernacular oral tradition (including “Folk Bible” compositions).

The overall research questions in this proposal have several different aspects to be taken into account. 1) Comparisons of particular topoi within Slavonic apocryphal heritage which are known to be attested in or based on earlier Jewish and/or Christian traditions. 2) More detailed analyses of the religious and ritual contexts of these topoi in parabiblical writings from the point of view of calendar, liturgy, etc., as a prerequisite for improved results in understanding the Slavonic texts. 3) Higher resolution consideration of the original language (e.g. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) of topoi later appearing in Slavonic. The parallel attestations of such topoi in their Slavonic contexts will allow the combined expertise of the research team to focus on common questions from differing perspectives.


Slavonic Parabiblical Heritage, Old and New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Religious Art and Iconography, Oral Tradition, Intertextuality, Abrahamic Religions


Florentina Badalanova Geller
The Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London / University College London

Anna–Maria Totomanova
Sofia University

Alexandra Vukovich
University of Oxford

Member Area

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

The project focuses on the Nachleben of Judaeo-Christian parabiblical heritage within the intellectual landscape of Pax Slavia Christiana, with a special emphasis on scribal traditions preserved in the last lingua sacra of Europe — Old Church Slavonic. Taken into consideration are also socio-political conditions of their transmission from the Middle Ages to Modernity, as well as the processes of cultural continuity.  One of the aims of the current project is to explore the mega-corpus of texts and traditions that has been preserved through multilingual channels of cross-cultural transmission, along with the examination of relevant archaeological record and religious iconography; likewise envisaged is further examination of vernacular oral heritage of the three Abrahamic religions. While Slavonic parabiblical heritage has been long recognised as a rich repository of witnesses to earlier apocryphal and pseudepigraphic writings (the Vorlagen of which may be dated to the early Second Temple period), scholars need to re-evaluate its potential importance to a better understanding of Judaism in the Hellenistic period, the roots of Rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Patristics, Gnosticism, and later mystical thought.

However, these are not the limits to epistemological discourse pursued in our research project. Although the terminology used here assumes a series of historical/chronological developments, Slavonic parabiblical heritage is not considered a closed collection of established sources by any means and the very concept allows for the open inclusion and evolution of associated evidence (scribal, iconographic, oral). We are seeking papers that explore various works and query assumptions. By studying materials that depend on or derive from the corpus of “Holy Writ”, we seek to explore what makes a text significant in the Slavonic Parabiblical landscape, i.e. what makes it worthy of being transmitted, taught, discussed, and included in (or excluded from) established conventions, etc. The transmission within Slavonic intellectual landscape of parabiblical works associated with Biblical characters (e.g. Adam, Eve, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Baruch, David, Solomon, Elijah, Virgin Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul, etc.), or offices (such as Kingdoms and their successions), as well concepts such as prophethood, sainthood, martyrdom, etc. may produce the effect of creating a memorable past (rooting it in prestigious antiquity or Biblical lineages more generally). In some cases, parabiblical works are formed in the context of a group or society, to embed a cluster of practices and social institutions, ritualized expressions (such as hymns of prayers), and to create a set of cultural referents for the framing of historical events and characters (e.g. through the translation, incorporation, and replication of Byzantine chronography into Slavonic). The aimed coverage of our research project does not only encompass a corpus of literary texts, but also includes related visual narratives (religious art and iconography); of particular importance in this connection are also the inscriptions accompanying the depictions of Biblical characters and events, which may be studied as evidence elucidating the transmission history of parabiblical discourses. The latter subject has been somewhat understudied, hence out encouragement of contributions on the topic. Our project further intends to expand the scope of targeted visual data, including themes represented in photography and cinema, notwithstanding their use in ideological narratives and propaganda.  Taken into consideration are also permutations in vernacular oral traditions (e.g. the “Folk Bible” data), as well as sources about the complex relationship between Paganism and Christianity, along with cross-confessional Jewish–Christian–Muslim discourses. 

The overall research questions in this call for papers allow for many aspects to be taken into account and we will consider papers on the following topics:

- Providing analytical assessment of particular topoi within the Slavonic parabiblical corpus, which are attested in Jewish and/or Christian writings composed in (and transmitted within) “classical” linguistic settings of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin; 

- Situating Slavonic parabiblical heritage within the larger corpus of relevant texts and traditions attested in “peripheral” linguistic settings (e.g. Armenian, Syriac, Coptic, Romanian, etc.);  

- Investigating the role of parabiblical writings in creating the ecclesiastical calendar and related liturgical practices, along with assorted other ceremonies and rituals, both within the space of the Church and beyond;

- Addressing the manifestations of parabiblical writings in various literary genres, including Chronicles;

- Exploring parabiblical themes via oral tradition, including missionary expeditions, or the manifestation of “Folk Bible” and “Folk Quran” compositions;

- Viewing Slavonic parabiblical traditions through the prism of iconography and more recent forms of visual representation (including photography, and film).

Please add your abstract to the abstract management system and email your 250-300-word abstracts to the Chairs of Slavonic Parabiblical Traditions Research Unit at the following addresses:

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]