The Codex Zographensis (or Tetraevangelium Zographense; scholarly abbreviation Zo) is an illuminated Old Church Slavonic canon manuscript. It is composed of 304 parchment folios; the first 288 are written in Glagolitic containing Gospels, and the rest written in Cyrillic containing a 13th-century synaxarium. It is dated at late 10th or early 11th century.

Discovery and publishing

The manuscript was found in the Bulgarian Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos in 1843 by the Croatian writer and diplomat Antun Mihanović. Codex's existence was however made known to public by Izmail Sreznevsky who published some parts of it in 1856. In 1860 monks from the Zograf monastery donated the Codex to Russian emperor Alexander II who donated it to Russian National Library, where the Codex is being kept today. The first to describe the codex was Viktor I. Grigorovič in 1877, and two years later the Glagolitic part of the codex was published by Slavist Vatroslav Jagić in Berlin as Quattuor evangeliorum codex glagoliticus olim Zographensis nunc Petropolitanus, completely transcribed in Cyrillic, with introduction and extensive philological commentary in Latin. Jagić's edition has been reprinted as a facsimile edition in Graz in 1954. Other scholars who have extensively studied the language of Codex Zographensis include the Josef Kurz and the Leszek Moszyński.


The manuscript contains 304 parchment folios. The first few ones have not been preserved, and thus it begins with Matthew 3:11 and ends with John, with Mt 16:20-24:20 being later insertion in old Macedonian Church Slavonic. In total, the first 288 folios are written in Glagolitic and contain Gospel text. In addition, several additional folios from the middle of the manuscript are missing. At the end of the 11th or beginning of the 12th century some missing folios (from 41 to 57) were replaced with 17 new ones, written in square Glagolitic. They were themselves most likely a palimpsest. The rest of the 16 folios contain 13th-century synaxarium.

Origin and linguistic features

Along with the slightly older Codex Marianus it is an important document for its use of the round Glagolitic script, the oldest recorded Slavic alphabet. It exhibits linguistic features characteristic of Western Bulgarian (Macedonian) recension.

By analyzing the language of the codex it was established that the style and antiquity of the text is nonuniform, second part being more archaic than the first part. Some scholars explain this by gradual adaptation to the language of the source from which the manuscript originated. Generally, phonology of the language of Codex Zographensis is archaic - vocalizations of strong yers are rare, epenthetic l is preserved, though in most parts of the manuscript yers are being assimilated. It is a bit less archaic with respect to morphology and syntax, though the forms of definite declension of adjectives and older forms of participles are well-preserved (e.g. prošь, nošь and rarely prosivъ, nosivъ).

See also