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Brest Catechism of 1553 reissued and celebrated

The Brest Catechism of 1553 was  the first book ever printed in Belarus. National and international researchers  collaborated on this volume in Belarusian and English.

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES AUTOR 273/Johannes_Reimer 06 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 17:30 h

An event of historical significance



The National Library of Belarus in Minsk has announced the publication of a new annotated edition of the Brest Catechism of 1553, the first book ever printed in Belarus.



A number of national and international researchers have collaborated on this extremely impressive volume in Belarusian and English.



The result is a well-informed and clearly laid out book that not only traces the genesis of the first Protestant catechism in Central and Eastern Europe, but also sheds light on the historical context in the then largely reformed Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under Chancellor duke Mikolaus Radzivill the Black (1515-1565). 1



Unlike other similar catechisms of its time, the Brest Catechism was written and used by the Reformed as well as Anabaptist believers in the region. 2



Particularly noteworthy are the contributions on the history of Radzivill's princely Brest printing house by the well-known Belarusian historian Dr. Alexander Land (Suscha) 3, a historical classification of the catechism in the events of the Reformation in Belarus by the Pentecostal Belarusian historian Antonii Bokun 4, an introduction to the religious world of duke Mikolai Radzivill by Valeri Moroz5, as well as further contributions by Dr. Johannes Reimer, Germany, and Dr. Juri Lauryk. 6



The volume contains a facsimile of the original edition, as well as translations of the catechism into Belarusian and English. All contributions are also reproduced in English in the second part of the volume, thus making the content accessible to researchers outside of Belarus.



We would like to express our special thanks to the publishers of the work and, above all, to the country's National Library. Belarus can truly be proud of its historical research.



 



Protestants in Belarus - a reassessment of history



The dedication with which Belarusian historians are working to rediscover the Protestant history of their country is significant in every respect.



Apparently, Belarusians not only have a rich Roman Catholic and Orthodox history, but also a Protestant one, which reaches far back into the Reformation period in Europe and has made significant contributions to the religious and cultural development of the country.7



To mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe, leading Protestants gave a well-founded overview of the history of the Reformation among the Belarusians, then still called Litvinians, who belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian Principality and were included in the Reformation soon after its outbreak. 8



The great merit of Protestantism in the development of literature, culture and society as a whole is undisputed among historians today.9



Today's country is one of the most culturally rich countries in Eastern Europe also because of its rich Protestant history. Discovering this and reviving the cultural and confessional memory is a gift for the country and its people.



The interest in Protestantism can also be seen in the development of Protestant churches. Whereas in 1992 the Pentecostal churches had 158 and the Evangelical ristian Baptists 156 officially registered churches in the country, today (2022) there are 526 and 281 churches respectively. 10 The growth is phenomenal.



The Protestants in the country enjoy the growing interest in their history. They view the Orthodox and Roman-Catholic as their Co-Christians and cherish the history of all Christian denomminations as well.



They will not stop to dig in deep into their own story and praise God for what He has given to the Belorussian people be that through their own movement, or the other Christian confessions in the land.



Only recently, the Pentecostal congregations acquired the Reformed Church in Pervomaisk, which dates back to the XVI century, and want to set up a museum of Protestant history in the country here after a historically adequate renovation is done.





[photo_footer]Historical church in Pervomaisk. [/photo_footer] 


Research continues and the rich history of Protestantism in Belarus will delight us with many a positive surprise.



Johannes Reimer, professor of Missiology and Director of the Department of Public Engagement of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).



 



Notes



1.  A. G. Barysjuk, S.A. Bryschcel, A. A. Unuchek, Eds.: Berasceiski katechesis 1553. Belarusski parschdruck (= Brest Catechism of 1553 1553). (Minsk: Nazional´naja biblioteka Belarusi 2023).



2. Johannes Reimer: Litauische Brüder – Täufer in Weissrussland zur Zeit der Reformation, in Mennonitica Helvetica 42 (2019), 40-40.



3.  Alexandr Land: Spadchyna berasceiskai drukarni (= The story oft he Brest printing press), in: Barysjuk, Berasceiski katechism, 57-111.



4.  Antoni Bokun: Berasceiski katechism 1553 g. jak religyina-etychny pomnik reformazy u Belarusi (= Brest Catechism of 1553 as Document of the Reformation in Belarus), in Barysjuk, Berasceiski katechism, 117-132.



5.  Valeri Moroz: Epocha, spravy i vera knjazja Mikolaia Radzivilla Chornogo (= Epoch, societal documents and Faith of duke Mikolai Radzivill the Black), in: Barysjuk: Beresteiski katechism, 147-156.



6.  Johannes Reimer: Katechesisi y evropeiskoi pratestanskoi gistorii (= Catechsms in europian protestant history), in: Barysjuk: Bresceiski katachisis, 112-116. Juri Lauryk: Vydanie berasceiskogo katechisisa y kantekste dzeinasti drukarni Barnata Wajavodki (= the publication des Brest catechism in the context of the publishing dynastie of Barnata Woyavodka), in: Barysjuk: Berasceiski katechisis, 133-146.



7.  Seh among other: A. Veraschchagina: Gistoria kanfesij u Belarusi (= History of confessions in Belarus). (Minsk: Technologia 2000); T.V. Opiok: Istorija christianskich konfessi v Belarusi: metod, rekomendaciii po kursu (= History of Christian confessions in Belarus). (Mogilev: MGU im. A.A. Kuleschova 2007); Antonii Bokun: Reformacyja i Salaty Vek Belarusi (= Reformation: and the Golden Age in Belarus). (Minsk 2005); a.o.



8.  U. I. Navitzki, Ed..: Evangel´skie christiane v Belarusi: pjatj vekov istorii (1517-2017) (= Evangelical Christian in Belarus: 5 centuries of history).. (Minsk: Pasytyu-Zentr 2019).



9.  S. Ladokschin: Reformacija in obschestvennaja Myslj Belarussii i Litvy vtorja polovina XVI – nachalo XII v. (= Reformation und societal thinking in Belarus und Lithuania in send half of the XVI – beginning of the XVII century). (Minsk 1970).



10.  Anton Gordzjalkovski: Kak za 30 let izmenilasj karta konfessij Belarusi (= How have the confessions of Belarus changed in 30 years), in: https://officelife.media/article/people/39331-kak-za-30-let-izmenilas-karta-konfessiy-belarusi/, 25.12.2022, (4.11.2023).


 

 


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