Baltic accent

2018 Vol. 9 №2

The Name of Prophet Abraham in the Old Russian Literature of XI—XIII centuries


The spread of Christianity in Russia contributed to the development of writing and had a direct impact on the thematic, genre, figurative features of spiritual, and later secular literature. In this article, we consider the image of Abraham, one of the Biblical forefathers, along with Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, who are central to Old Testament. The author analyzes the mentioning of his name in various contexts of ancient Russian literature of the 11th-13th centuries — the Tale of Bygone Years, the Teaching and Prayer of Theodosius of Pechersky, the Ostromir’s Gospel, the Words and Instructions of Cyril of Turov, the Tale of Boris and Gleb and some others. The author distinguishes free and formulaic references to the prophet’s name. An example of free reference is a comparison of the events of the recent past with an episode from Abraham’s life. Examples of formulaic references include cases like "Abraham bosom", "children of Abraham", where Abraham not only appears as a forefather of the sacred people, but also personifies the afterlife. The name of Abraham is described in the historical chronology, in which the prophet appears as the emblem of time or a genus. Depending on the context, the formulaic and free references to his name in the Old Testament belong to the period of the sacred history when Abraham lived or to all the biblical events simultaneously. Free reference of Abraham's name occurs less often and mostly in the episode of the liberation of Lot from captivity, and in the description of his personal qualities, such as his hospitality. Formulas are always built into rhetorical constructions such as additions, and the image of the forefather of the chosen people in the formulas appears primarily as a symbol of the Old Testament.

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