The first translations of biblical texts among the medieval Slavs stand at the beginning of Slavic literary culture. The studies of these texts can shed light not only on the reconstruction of the early translations, but also on the original Greek texts. Slavonic versions of the Scriptures are therefore significant to biblical studies in general.
According to written sources, there was an Old Church Slavonic translation of the whole Bible in the ninth century. However, no direct evidence or manuscripts dating from this period have survived to the present day. Apparently up to the end of the fifteenth century, when Archbishop Gennadius of Novgorod initiated a full Bible translation, the complete biblical corpus did not exist in Slavonic.
The Church Slavonic translation of Ecclesiastes survives in three distinct traditions:
1) A Cyrillic version of the text. This goes back to the Septuagint, but its manuscript tradition starts from the fifteenth century onwards;
2) A Cyrillic version of the text with a catena (commentary) so far untraced in Greek. It goes back to the thirteenth century. The translation of this catena poses a problem: what was the origin of the Greek text behind it and when and where was it translated?
3) A Croatian Church Slavonic version in Glagolitic breviaries of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries.
The present paper which is a part of a project on the textual history of the Slavonic Ecclesiastes investigates the text in Croat Glagolitic breviaries published by J. Vajs in 1905. Modern scholarship has suggested that several of the biblical books, Ecclesiastes included, in Croat Glagolitic breviaries were initially translated from Greek but a later date were emended under the influence of the Vulgate. However, Vajs believed that the Croatian text of Ecclesiastes was translated from the Vulgate directly. One of the tasks is therefore to elucidate whether it was based ultimately on Greek, or translated simply from Latin.
A number of mistakes (sixteen in total) shows that the source of the translation was Latin. For example, 2:19 et est quicquam tam vanum ‘and is there anything so vain?’ is rendered as i est′ vsacskim takoe razlicno [varium?]. The translator misread vanum ‘vain’ for varium ‘different’ and translated it as razlicno.
Difference in wording and grammar between the texts in the Croatian Glagolitic breviaries and in the Ostrog Bible goes back to their respective originals, as in 1:8 Gl. vyprostreti slovom, Vulg. explicare sermone, Ostr. glagolati, LXX tou lalein.
Loan-words are also borrowed directly from Latin. For example, 2:8 et urceos in ministerio ad vina fundenda ‘and vessels to serve to pour out vine’ is rendered as i vrce na sluzenie k nalevaniju vina The word vrc is a loan-word from Latin, it is still used in modern Serbo-Croat.
Word order and syntax in Croatian breviaries show that the text follows Latin original. I was unable to discover any traces of the underlying Greek text. The evidence presented in the paper suggests that the text was translated from Latin.