2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611. The project was the undertaking of the new House of Stuart which sought to put its stamp on English cultural, religious and political life. It was also intended to end a centuries-old debate about whether English (not Latin or French) was the accepted language of educated communication in England. To accomplish this, James I launched the 17th Century equivalent of the Manhattan Project, by assembling a team of 54 linguists, historians and theologians from Cambridge and Oxford who worked virtually full time for eight years. Most of the participants were from Southeastern England which gave the final product a distinct regional flavor.
A slightly more modest effort was recently completed to produce a parallel product in Carpatho-Rusyn. A team composed of Dr. Anna Plišková of the University of Prešov , Fr. František Krajňák of the Slovak Association of Rusyn Organizations and Josif Kudzej, translated the Gospels from Church Slavonic into what might be called the Prešov standard of written Rusyn. The project was commissioned by the World Rusyn Congress and the published volume is 1048 pages in length with both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet sections (ISBN 978-80-88-769-92-7).
The work which was completed in 2009 will settle some debates and no doubt precipitate fresh ones about the grammatical useages and vocabulary choices of Krajňák and Kudzej, who are after all, from different villages (Kamjunka and Njagiv, respectively). Nonetheless, the translation of a major piece of world literature signifies that Rusyn is no longer a gaggle of dialects but is firmly on the road to literary standardization .
C-RS would like to express its appreciation to Karen Varian, President of the Rusin Society of Minnesota, for making this important work available to us.
Written by: John Schweich, C-RS trustee.