12:03 19.10.2012

Unique Turkic-language Arabic-spelt Gospel found in Bashkortostan

2 min read

Researchers at Bashkortostan's national library have found a rare edition of the Gospel in the archives of religious Turkic-language Arabic-spelt books, the Zaki Validi National Library said on its Web site.

The rare Gospel was discovered by researchers of the Manuscripts and Rare Books Department in an archive of 40,000 books.

"It is a unique sample of Orthodox religious literature and a source for studying the Muslim people's languages, published by Scotch missionaries back in the early 19th century," Antonina Gezikova, the head of the library's Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, was quoted as saying.

The Gospel, discovered in the Ufa archives, was published in the Western-Kypchak version of the Turkic literary language, which is close to the Karachai-Balkar and other Western Kypchak vernaculars, she said. "The translation is very interesting and differs strongly from all translations dating back to the early 19th century," she also said.

Gezikova said that at the start of the 19th century Russian Emperor Alexander I allowed Western European missionaries to do their missionary work among the Muslim ethnic groups in the North Caucasus. In 1802, the Scotch Missionary Society got permission to open a mission near Aul Karras Syltanayu outside Beshtau-Pyatigorsk. Printing equipment was brought to the place in 1804, whose Arabic and Turkic printers were no worse than European ones. In 1815, the Scotch Missionary Society opened missions in Astrakhan and Orenburg. Four Scotch families settled in Astrakhan, where printing equipment arrived and a print house was set up, later named after missionary John Mitchell.

"The books, brought out by the Mitchell Print House, are unique samples of Orthodox religious literature, and they are also a source for studying the Muslim people's languages dating back to the early 19th century. The Edinburgh missionaries saved unique data about the history and culture of Turkmens, Bashkir, Crimean and Astrakhan Tatars, Armenians, Kabardinians, Ossetians and Greeks," she said.

There are three books at Bashkortostan's national library, that were brought out by the Mitchell Print House. Besides the Gospel, researchers have discovered the Holy Gospel, published in 1818, and the Old Testament, published in 1819.

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