Earlier this summer I was asked by a kind and selfless traveler on his way to Serbia whether there was anything that I needed him to bring back for me. Given that the Srbljak appears to be permanently out of print (but see here!), and since I couldn’t think of anything else at the time, I expressed my gratitude for his thoughtfulness and simply let the opportunity pass. Only later did it occur to me that I might have asked him to keep his eyes open for any Greek-Serbian diglot New Testaments he might find. Now, I don’t know whether such a book has actually been printed, but given that there is at least one Hebrew-Serbian diglot Psalter in print, it requires no great leap of faith to imagine that at least one Greek-Serbian New Testament might be available as well.
My interest in such a book was prompted by the fact that, when I first set out to learn Church Slavonic, one of the exercises I found most useful was to set the Greek text of the Bible (or a liturgical text) side by side with its Church Slavonic translation. I decided to start doing this after I had spent some quality time with Arcbishop Alypy’s Grammar of the Church Slavonic Language (Jordanville: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2001), translated by Archpriest John R. Shaw [now Bishop Jerome of Manhattan] and then only very recently published. This book features an appended “chrestomathy” that consists of the first three chapters of the Book of Acts. Being rather familiar with this biblical book in Greek, I decided to reach for my Greek New Testament to check my progress (or lack thereof) against it, and what I saw was nothing short of a revelation: it often seemed as though the syntax of the Church Slavonic text was borrowed wholesale from the Greek! (This is a phenomenon that becomes even more evident in liturgical texts.) Eventually I purchased a copy of the Bible Society’s edition of the Church Slavonic Bible, which enabled me to study in this same fashion biblical passages that were more familiar to me in translation, thereby significantly increasing the pedagogical value of my little exercise.
Since in recent years I have made many strides, not all of them altogether successful, towards learning Serbian, it occurred to me that I might use a Greek-Serbian New Testament for similar purposes. Of course, no modern Slavic language is able to approximate the Greek text they way Church Slavonic does, but I figured that nearly 20 years of acquaintance with the New Testament in Greek ought to allow a person to use its text, at the very least, as a vocabulary crutch! I had been pondering these things for a few weeks when, quite unexpectedly, I stumbled upon some PDF files on the excellent site Svetosavlje that feature the text of the Johannine and a few of the Pauline Epistles, not in a Greek-Serbian diglot, but in a Greek-Slavonic-Serbian triglot format. I must admit that the possibility of combining all three texts had not even crossed my mind, but it is clearly a brilliant idea. Here are the links for the comparative texts currently available:
- Epistle to the Galatians
- Epistle to the Ephesians
- Epistle to the Philippians
- Epistle to the Colossians
- First Epistle to the Thessalonians
- Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
- First, Second, and Third Epistles of St John
I was unable to find any information on the origin of these files, but one can only hope that it is an ongoing project that will eventually give us an online Biblia Triglotta Serbianna—though if this is indeed an active and ongoing project, it is far more likely that those responsible are only aiming at completing a Novum Testamentum Triglottum. I would be ecstatic beyond words either way.
Be that as it may, since we have once again reached that time of the year when St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is read liturgically (the weekday readings from the Epistle ended on Wednesday, and the Sunday readings will start in a couple of weeks), I have decided to commit the bulk of my time during my annual return to Galatians to the study of the triglot text linked above. I’m eagerly looking forward to it.