Hebrew-Slavic Contacts in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Dr. Bondar’s research examines the relationships and points of cultural contact that existed between Jews and the Slavic populations among whom they lived in the area of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (modern Belarus, Volhynia, Polesia, the Kiev Region and the Upper Dnieper) during the Middle Ages. Jewish-Slavic relations shifted throughout the medieval period: during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries the focus may be placed on the “Canaanites” community and its cultural activities, while the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries was an especially rich time of social activity and spiritual life among the Christian and Jewish populations in the region.

Numerous written sources exist from the period – the works of both Christian scribes and Jewish scholars – many of them Hebrew texts translated into Slavic languages (particularly Old Belarusian and Old Ukrainian). These texts, and the subject of Jewish participation in the translation process, have not yet been sufficiently studied by scholars. Dr. Bondar’s work seeks to redress this deficiency. Topics of investigation for this study include translations of Holy Scriptures and prayers, retellings of Midrashim, revisions of biblical texts, and the influence of Jews on the spiritual and ideological movements in Muscovy.

It is important to note that the origins and functions of these texts were not always identical: some were translated in earlier periods and later copied while some entered into the Muscovy book culture from other regions. The dissemination of Russian monuments throughout the Belarusian-Ukrainian area should also be considered.

During the 2016–2017 academic year, Dr. Bondar has been collecting and studying the relevant sources and modern research literature on the topic. In particular, he examined the work methods of Old Russian scribes; the perception of Jewish origin texts in Medieval Rus’; and the types of translations from Hebrew to Old Rus’. Dr. Bondar has written several articles and presented papers at international conferences based on his research.

During the coming academic year, Dr. Bondar will collect and analyze primary source materials from libraries and archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vilna and Minsk. In particular, he will consider the translation of biblical texts in the Vilna collection, the manuscript tradition and sources of the Psalms of Feodor, the Midrashic sources of the Paleja and the Chronograph, and Hebrew glosses of the Pentateuch.

Publications

Articles

“From Observations on the Texts of Hebrew-Slavic Literacy”, Khazar Miscellany, Vol. 14, Kiev-Moscow, 2016, pp. 38–65.

Submitted Articles

“On the Typology of East-Slavic Medieval Translations from Hebrew”, Wschód Europy ("Europe's East"), vol. 4, Lublin University, 2017.

“Texts and Their Translators”, Proceedings of the conference “Contacts and Conflicts in the Jewish and Slavic Tradition”, Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer”; Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Science, 2017.

Conferences

  • December 7–11, 2016
    Dr. Bondar represented the Diaspora Research Center at an international conference at the Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer” of the Russian Academy of Science. The title of Dr. Bondar's lecture was “Texts and Their Translators”.

  •  January 29–31, 2017

    Dr. Bondar represented the Diaspora Research Center at the XXIV International Interdisciplinary Conference on Jewish Studies held in Moscow. He presented a paper entitled “Thinking of Glosses: On the Question of Jewish Influence on the Biblical Tradition of the Slavs”.

Events

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News

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A new date will be published soon