You are on page 1of 2

The Freising manuscripts The famous Freising manuscripts, which originated in Upper Carinthia (Möll river valley or Luhrnfeld

) between 972 and 1039, stand at the beginning of the thousand-year history of Slovene written culture; they are the oldest Slovene texts and also the oldest preserved writings in any Slavic language within the territory of Europe's western civilisation. The parchment sheets containing three ritual Slovene texts were bound together with other, similar documents into a codex, which belonged to Bishop Abraham of Freising. His diocese had estates in Carinthia, which was then settled by Slovene believers, and the Bishop thus required Slovene liturgical texts during his pontificate. The codex was kept in the Cathedral Chapter House of Freising until 1803, and from then on in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, where the Slovene texts in it were discovered in 1807. The Latin codex, whose appearance and contents are hardly impressive, became world famous and a particularly precious written monument precisely because of the Freising manuscripts. The first manuscript, a general confession formula, is written on two pages; the third manuscript, also a confession formula, covers three pages; and the second manuscript, a sermon on sin and repentance, covers four pages. All three manuscripts are written in minuscule script, a successor of the Carolingian minuscule script. The second and third manuscripts were written by the same hand, while the first one was written by another scribe. Due to their great age, the manuscripts are hardly legible and several accurate letter (diplomatic) transcriptions exist, as well as examples of phonetic transcriptions, which attempt to present how the texts were spoken. The Slovene Freising manuscripts were written as translations of Latin and German texts that were used in the Western Church. It is quite conceivable that earlier Slovene texts existed and that they were written down in the preserved form around 1000, because we know that texts for the Christian service existed as early as 800, and that they were recited by priests and believers in a language the latter understood. There is no doubt, however, that the language of the three Freising manuscripts is Slovene in its early stages, when it was in the process of developing from Old Church Slavonic into an independent language. The most important manuscript is the second one, a Sermon on sin and repentance. It is a priest’s short and clear address about the Christian doctrine of sin and salvation. The sermon was probably adapted from an old, 8th century Bavarian sermon. Presumably, it was brought to Lower Pannonia, that is to the Duchy of Prince Kocelj, where Methodius and his disciples were active, by

immigrants from Carantania. This would indeed explain the presence of Old Church Slavonic elements as well as Moravian and Pannonian words in the Slovene text. Because of its neat order and rhetorical elements, this manuscript already has the qualities of an artistic, literary text.

The Latin codex (classification no. Clm 6426), into which the Freising manuscripts are bound, consists of a total of 169 numbered parchment folios or 338 pages; the dimensions of the sheets are 25.6 cm (height) x 20.8 cm (width), and the codex including the covers is 5.9 cm thick. The binding is probably from the time of the codex’s origin: wooden covers in white pig leather. The codex had metal clasps, which have not been preserved, and even a metal pin with a chain, by means of which it was fastened to its place in the library. The Slovene texts are written on folios 78, 158, 159, 160, and 161 (a total of 9 pages).