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 in Abrahamic Religion


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

Wuppertal 2021 Call for Papers

One of the ways in which to approach Judaism in the Hellenistic period in its varieties, continuities, and developments is by exploring the mass of literature that has been preserved, often through Christian transmission, via the archaeological record (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls), or various Jewish folk traditions. The Slavonic parabiblical tradition, even though it dates from a later period, conserves some of the witnesses to earlier apocryphal and pseudepigraphic writings, originally in Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as in Greek, Syriac, and Latin. For many of these compositions, their Vorlagen may be dated to the early Second Temple period. Thus, the study of Slavonic parabiblical writings can contribute significantly to a better understanding of Judaism in the Hellenistic period, the roots of Rabbinic Judaism, early Christianity, Gnosticism, and later mystical thought.

However, these are not the limits to what we call the “Slavonic Parabiblical tradition”. Although the terminology used here assumes a series of historical developments, parabiblical tradition is not a closed collection of authoritative writings by any means and the very concept allows for the open inclusion and evolution of associated works. We are seeking papers that both explore accepted works and query canonical assumptions. By studying materials that depend on or derive from biblical works or even genres, we seek to explore what makes a text authoritative in the Slavonic Parabiblical tradition, i.e. what makes it worthy of being transmitted, taught, included in established canons, etc. The transmission, in the Slavonic tradition, of parabiblical works associated with people (such as Enoch, David, Solomon) or offices (such as kings, prophets, apostles) may produce the effect of creating a memorable past (rooting it in antiquity or biblical times more generally). In some cases, parabiblical works form in the context of a group or society, to embed a set of practices (such as rituals and ceremonies), ritualized expressions (such as hymns of prayers), and to create a set of cultural referents for the framing of historical events and characters, such as through the translation, incorporation, and replication of Byzantine chronography into Slavonic. Finally, the Slavonic Parabiblical tradition is not only a set of texts, but also includes iconographies (icons, religious art, and even parabiblical themes in photography and cinema), as well as oral traditions in the vernacular, such as “Folk Bible” compositions.

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

- What constitutes an “authoritative” text in the Slavonic parabiblical tradition? Does Scripture represent the highest level of authority and are there gradations of authority that we can see in the parabiblical tradition?

- Comparisons of particular topoi within the Slavonic parabiblical tradition, which are attested to in or based on earlier Jewish and/or Christian traditions and in other languages, such as Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek

- The role of parabiblical writings in creating the liturgical calendar, liturgical practices, and assorted other ceremonies and rituals, both within the space of the church and beyond

- The manifestation of parabiblical writings in other literary genres, including chronicles

- Exploring parabiblical themes via oral tradition, including missionary expeditions, or the manifestation of folk bible compositions

- Parabiblical traditions beyond text, including icons and iconography and more recent forms of representation, including photography, television, and film 

Please email your 250-300-word abstracts to the Slavonic Parabiblical Traditions Research Network conveners but you will also need to submit your abstract via the submission system on the EABS website.