The Russian Orthodox Church is preparing for a reform of its liturgical language, and a draft document on the role of Church Slavonic in modern church life has been circulated among dioceses and is available for discussion on the internet.
“Church Slavonic is a very important means to keep unity and traditions inside the Church. But on the other hand, understanding of liturgical texts written in Church Slavonic may be simplified,” a senior Church official, Archimandrite Kirill, said on Monday.
“It is proposed that more complicated words from Church Slavonic be replaced with simpler ones from the same language, and that syntactic constructions be made easier,” he said.
“The general tendency is to make the message that the Church is carrying to modern society more transparent and understandable. This is the process of adaptation inside the Church Slavonic language,” said Kirill, who is a deputy head of the Church’s education committee.
The changes in particular stipulate that “zhivot,” which translates from Church Slavonic to “life” but means “stomach” in modern Russian, will be replaced with the standard Russian word “zhizn,” and some Greek words will be replaced with their Russian equivalents.
The current Church Slavonic used in services is derived from Old Church Slavonic developed by Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century. The older language’s pronunciation and orthography were adapted, and some words were replaced with newer ones.
The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest among Eastern Orthodox churches and the world’s second largest Christian church after the Roman Catholic Church.