Some lockdown-era donations

Our department, Collections and Academic Liaison, works on the lion’s share of donations of books made to the University Library.  Since our numbers in the library building have had to be kept very low since mid-March last year, our focus in the office has chiefly been on cataloguing new bought books, but this post mentions a few donations that we have been able to process recently. Continue reading

On the one true faith : the December 2019 [Old Church] Slavonic item of the month

The opening page of the book, complete with woodcut and ornamental lettering.

Earlier this year, the Friends of the National Libraries generously funded the purchase by the University Library of a 1648 book called Kniga o vere edinoi istinnoi pravoslavnoi [Book on the one true Orthodox faith].  The volume, bought from a major dealer, had latterly been part of the Macclesfield library at Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire.

This exceptionally rare book of Orthodox liturgy and theology in Old Church Slavonic is an exciting addition to the collection of early Slavonic books found across collegiate Cambridge.  Much of the content is is derived from the earlier writings of Zakhariia Kopystens’kyi, Archimandrite of the Kyivo-Pechers’ka Monastery.  The book, printed by Stefan Boniface (Stefan Vonifat’ev), a prominent protopope, was published in febrile times for the Russian Orthodox Church. Within only a few years, the great Raskol (schism) occurred, triggered by the official church’s re-alignment of practices with their Greek roots, a schism which saw the emergence of the Old Believers movement.  The fact that this book, which contains a synthesis emerging out of the encounter between Orthodoxy and Latin (Jesuit) education in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, appeared just as this restoration of practices rooted in the Greek tradition was gaining speed might explain why so few copies remain.  Ours is one of only six recorded copies worldwide. Continue reading