Travelling exhibition shows history of Bible in Czech lands

Bible of Kralice

Fifty thousand visitors have seen a unique travelling exhibition showing the history of Czech translations of the Bible. It is now on display in the northern town of Usti nad Labem before it moves to Hungary at the start of next year.

The oldest translation of the Bible into a Slavic language was done by the Byzantine missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius who were invited by Prince Rostislav to spread God's word in Great Moravia in the 9th century AD. The original texts in Old Church Slavonic have not been preserved but the exhibition presents some other very old manuscripts. Alena Kubickova is the curator of the whole project.

"One of the most important texts is a facsimile of the 'Codex of Vysehrad' written in 1085 to mark the coronation of the first Czech king, Vratislav II. Another significant text is an old Czech biblical translation known as the 'Dresden Bible' or 'Leskovec Bible' dating back to 1360 during the reign of Charles IV."

The exhibition marks two important anniversaries. One is the 425th anniversary of the first edition of the "Kralicka bible" or "Bible of Kralice", a translation made from the original biblical languages by the Czech Brethren in 1579, that set the standard for the Czech language for many centuries. Also, 25 years ago, the most recent translation into modern Czech was done, known as "Cesky ekumenicky preklad", or "Czech Ecumenical Translation". Despite the fact research suggests the Czechs are one of the least religious nations in Europe, Alena Kubickova says the exhibition is well-attended.

"I'm very happy to see all those young people and students but also adults. Unexpectedly, the young people show a great interest in the topic, they study the materials and ask questions. We think there is a great thirst for knowledge in this respect."

Apart from the Czech Republic, the exhibition "The Czech Bible over the Centuries" has been presented to the public in Poland, in the capital Warsaw and two other towns. At the beginning of next year, it will travel to Hungary.