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Traducerea Mineielor în limba vorbită a poporului – etape ale unei deveniri culturale şi spirituale româneşti

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The Translation of the Menaion into the Spoken Language of the People –
Stages of a Romanian Cultural and Spiritual Development

As one of the representative service books of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Menaion successfully synthesizes both the typikonal and hagiographic richness of the Byzantine hymnography. The Menaia were introduced in the Romanian worship in the 15th century. They started as Slavonic manuscripts, hand-copied and spread by the effort of some scholar monks; eventually they morphed into printed Slavonic editions through the care and labour of deacon Coresi, but that happened much later, in the 17th century. The liturgical books have helped shape the Romanians’ ethnic consciousness and have eased them into spiritual coherence as a people through their religious and cultural life. These books stood at the foundation of a common spiritual and cultural life of all Romanians and
contributed massively to the evolvement of their ethnic consciousness, identity and unity. The publication of the Menaia from Râmnic (1776-1780) marked the definitive introduction of the Romanian language in the worship of the Church. The translation of these prodigious liturgical books into the spoken language constituted the final and most difficult stage in the process of Romanianization of church services. Faced with almost insurmountable linguistic obstacles, as the Byzantine tones were such an interfusion of complex poetical language, rhythm, versification and metric, the scholar clergymen managed to brave a monumental work of compiling and synthesizing all the previous Menaia translations, of adapting, moulding and enriching them and, eventually, of endowing the liturgical text with a certain specificity of Romanian spirituality and culture. All the Menaia published to date stand out through the same unique manner in which the previous translations, that they were compiled from in the transcription process, were converted, adapted and enriched with elements of local specificity to such a degree, that the resulting service book
emerged as a masterpiece of Romanian language and had a profound contribution to the formation, enhancement, stylisation and fine tuning of the Romanian literary language.

Keywords: Orthodox Church, Transylvania, Liturgical books, Menaion, Liturgy, Worship

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