6-1There are few books in Ukraine which would contain and shine with the memory about origins of national spirituality, old Ukrainian language and, at the same time, could be called a masterpiece of the European book art. It is the case of our First Book or Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel, a jewel manuscript steeped in legends, secrets, and myths — there is no book which would be closer and more innermost book for every Ukrainian, the book which can listen, forgive and even absolve of secret and evident sins. And in order to make this sacral book, whose original is currently kept at the Institute of Manuscripts of the National Library named after V.I. Vernadskyi, closer to ordinary people Adef-Ukraine Publishing House together with Ukrainian Orthodox Church and with the support of Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, published a facsimile reprint of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel in one thousand copies in 2007.
«When the book had been published, the problem appeared that only those knowing Old Slavic could read it», says Alia Istomina, Executive Director of Adef-Ukraine Publishing House. «That is why we set ourselves a task to publish a book which would become a key to this treasure book - «Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel. Origins and our days» to celebrate 450-year anniversary of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel. 6-2
This Gospel contains four parts: the left side of the broadside is a page from the original book, and the right one consists of two columns: one column is an original text transliterated with modern Cyrillic, the other one - revised transliterated text in the modern Ukrainian language. Thus, the book has combined the original text, transliteration and revised version in the modern Ukrainian language and now any reader can read this Gospel. Interestingly, apart from tremendous energy and sense of meaning, readers can familiarize themselves with the Ukrainian language of 16th century.
The second project was funded from own resources and we started receiving support from everywhere only after the first edition had been published». One book of facsimile edition of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel costs sixty-five thousand UAH.
These days, «big» and «small» Gospels live their active and bright life, travelling everywhere. So far the books have been presented in the biggest libraries of the world: the Library of Congress, the British Library, libraries of Oxford and Cambridge, Toronto, Spain, Poland, Vatican and Jerusalem. In October the representatives of Adef-Ukraine PH visited Athens where they presented books to the orthodox community of the Greek Church. Archbishop of Athens and all Greccc greeted and blessed the publishers and on 17 October the Gospel was presented to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
6-3«Our main task was to make the facsimile reprint a complete copy of the original book, i.e. book size, colour and paper of the cover, which had been ordered from Sweden for this purpose. We managed to preserve unique miniatures icons. The book has the same weight as the original - 9 300 grams. Moreover, we were able to recreate bookbinding materials - cover made of natural leather and corners which decorate the Gospel are the same as in the 16th century. Unfortunately, the original cover of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel has been lost, cxccpt for some fragments of velvet.
The binding of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel has been redone and improved three times. The first binding is mentioned in the Afterword to the book: «The Gospel was written, with green satin covered and five plates of silver decorate it». The second revised version was published in 1701 when Ivan Mazepa the Hetman of Ukraine decided to present the Gospel to Pcrcyaslav Cathedral. Less than a century and half later, the cover was restored again. The lower plate of the cover was restored, the reverse sides of the cover were glued with paper and flyleaves were tipped on. The facsimile edition of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel has the restored initial leather cover.
In the process of preparation of the book for publishing, which lasted several years, some irritating moments occurred but the work never stopped. And riotous thoughts of giving up were overpowered by a tacit prayer.
«We had difficulties with incoming materials», says Alia Istomina, «as the original pages are trapezoidal not rectangular. In addition, wc had to align all pages and lines, so we6-4 applied computer restoration of every page, which makes 964 pages in total. The most complicated task was to make it as similar as possible to the original. It was difficult to duplicate the paper colour so we had three attempts to publish the Gospel. And, finally, when the first copy of the Gospel had been bound, we invited a librarian from the Library named after V.I. Vernadskyi for her to check the page numbering as the pages of the original Gospel are numbered with letters not figures. And when, having finished, she asked «Where can I wash my hands?», and then added embarrassed «Oh, I have forgotten that it is not an original», the specialists of the publishing house were really pleased with such a high appraisal. Indeed, our facsimile copy absolutely resembles the original Gospel. It is worth mentioning, that the manuscript leaves traces of paint and paper on hands, that is why one should wear gloves working with it and then carefully wash hands.
6-5The second edition which contains translation into Ukrainian should encourage people to read more, especially ecclesiastical literature. Meanwhile, we have launched an interesting Internet project related to Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel. Everybody visiting our web-site http://adef.com.ua/pcrcsopnica/indcx.php can rewrite one line from Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel in subsection «Manuscript of 21s1 century» and send it to us. Wc collect these lines and a special program sorts them. Having received all the lines, we are going to publish only one copy of the Gospel written by people and present it to the Museum of Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel in Pcrcsopnytsia village in Rivne region".
Adef-Ukraine PH were the first in Ukraine to start
such an ambitious project the results of which can already be seen, but, the most important, they hit chord with people. The time will go by and even indifferent people will wake up as the words of Gospel can thaw the ice. Such books, without doubt, bring us nearer to understanding the sense of our existence. And when you shake off all absurdity and brevity of human life, when you are standing face to face with the heavens, real, with a bare soul, and crying, your tears always cleanse and your soul is filled with blessing. At this moment your soul is complete and alive. And to feed this blessed spirit in your soul, you have to be open with people, in your good deeds, in sincere prayers and reading. It is the case of not only the Gospel, although one should never forget about it. That is why we believe that publishing Pcrcsopnytsia Gospel is not the last step of Adef-Ukraine PH towards development of spiritual culture of Ukrainians and their approaching Christian traditions which will inspire new deeds.

Heaven bless you!
Tetyana Zemlyakova

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