Institute for Euro-Asian Jewish Studies and Euro-Asian Jewish Congress supported the publication of Konstantin Bondar’s book Between Knaan and Ruthenia: Hebrew-Slavic writings and scribes. Kiev: Burago Publishing, 2019. 240 pp)
Dr. Bondar is an expert of the IAJS and Research associate of the Goldstein-Goren Diaspora Research Center at Tel-Aviv University. His book is aresult of three years-long research project “Jews and Slaves in the Middle Ages”.
From the Review of Prof. Peter B. Golden, one of the famous modern researchers of Khazars, Professor Emeritus of History, Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA:
This deeply learned work is an introduction to the question of an ongoing Jewish-Eastern Slavic “dialogue;” in the still insufficiently explored pre-Ashkenazi stage of Jewish communities in the Eastern Slavic lands. Translations from Hebrew to Eastern Slavic were, the author argues, often a joint labor of Jews and Christians carried out in conditions of relative interconfessional tolerance. This dialogue was mutually interactive, finding reflections not only in Jewish culture and language in the regions of Jewish settlement (especially in Western Ukraine and Belarus), but also in the influences of Hebrew works and usages (including Hebraisms and calques) on Christian texts written in Church Slavonic and in Eastern Slavic vernacular languages (Old Belarusian, Old Ukrainian).
Konstantin Bondar’s book is based on a deep and thorough reading of the relevant texts, which include a wide range of Slavic translations of parts of the Hebrew Bible, historical works (e.g. elements of the Book of Josippon found in Old Russian historical chronicles), rabbinical, apocryphal, liturgical, philosophical, astrological and natural science texts. Bondar’s study is marked by a scrupulous and nuanced exploration of the texts. The book also includes a detailed discussion of the history of the publications of these texts and an extensive bibliography.
The field of Judeo-Slavica is only now fully receiving its due, in many respects thanks to the work of Konstantin Bondar and other present-day pioneers of this field. His book is essential reading for those interested in the development of literature in the Eastern Slavic lands and in the culture of the Knaanites, the Pre-Ashkenazy, Slavic-speaking Jewish communities of Medieval – Early Modern times.