Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Advent of Christianity in Russia - Part I

(My) Translation of a fragment from the Primary Chronicle, also known as the Tale of Bygone Years - a manuscript compiled in Kiev in the early 1100's.

In the year 6494 (986) came Bulgars of the Mahometan faith, saying "You, prince, are wise and clever, but don't know the law. Believe in our law and bow to Mahomet". And Vladimir asked "What is your faith like?".They then answered: "We believe in G-d, and this is how Mahomet teaches us: to perform circumcision, not eat pork, not drink wine, but after death, he says, you can commit fornication with women. Mahomet will give each one seventy beautiful women, and will select one of them to be the most beautiful, and will place upon her the beauty of them all, and she will be a wife to him. Here, one should give himself to all kinds of fornication. If one is poor in this world, so will he be in the other" and all types of falsehoods they said, about which it is even shameful to write. Vladimir listened to them, since he himself liked women and all sorts of fornication, that is why he listened to them with pleasure. But here is what he found distasteful: circumcision and refraining from swine meat, and about drinking, he opposed, saying "For Russia it is joy to drink: we cannot be without it."


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