Published: Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės kalbos, kultūros ir raštijos tradicijos. Temčinas S. et al. (red.). Vilnius, 2009 (Bibliotheca Archivi Lithuanici, vol. 7), p. 152‒168

In the Ruthenian Bible, printed by the publisher and doctor of medicine and arts Francysk Skorina (Skaryna) in Prague in 1517 – 1519, we find his xylographic portraits twice. There, at the level of the editor’s head, two symmetrically located lions hold heraldic shields with mysterious signs, one of which looks like a triangle, while the other reminds a trapezoid. Despite the many efforts of researchers, the semantics of these signs have not been clarified until today. The generations of historians still meditate on this subject, but what if we could think differently and dismiss “the cornerstone” of Francysk Skorina (Skaryna) studies – the suggestion that these signs are directly related either to Skorina’s personality, or to his environment (for example his sponsors)? What if the very start was wrong?

Sergei Temchin suggests to consider these signs from a completely different perspective – firstly through the religious content of Skorina (Skaryna) Bible, and secondly through the religious meanings that Francysk Skorina himself attached to them.

This article proposes an interpretation of the “trapezoid”, based on a formal and semantic analogy of the letter written by one of the beginners of the Raskol (the movement of Russian old-believers of the 17th century), priest Lazarus, to the Muscovite Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and the Patriarch of 1669, with a similar image, accompanied by a description. It is assumed that the object depicted both in priest Lazarus’s petition and in Francysk Skorina’s portrait is the Golgotha Cross on the tabernacle of the Old Testament, symbolizing the superiority of the New Testament over the Old Testament. The article analyzes the origins, historical development and conditions of use of this symbol in the Skorina (Skaryna) Bible, which are more closely linked to the Catholic religion than to the Orthodox religious tradition.

 

Read the full text of the article in Russian: Сергей Темчин. Голгофский крест над ветхозаветной скинией на гравюрном портрете Франциска Скорины

Sergey Temchin

Sergejus Temčinas (also Sergey Temchin) Habil. Doctor in Humanities (2001), Professor (2003), a principal researcher and Head of the Research Centre of Written Heritage at the Institute of Lithuanian language (Vilnius). Academician of the Classe di Slavistica of the Accademia Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy (2014). Author of numerous publications in the field of Old Church Slavonic Studies, hymnography, Judaeoslavica, and Francysk Skaryna Studies.