440 years ago, on July 14, 1582, “Palia” appeared in Orăştie, the first Romanian translation of two books of the Old Testament (Genesis and Exodus, an important linguistic document, especially because of attempts to standardize the language by avoiding regionalism.
It was printed in Orăştie by the main press Şerban, son of Deacon Coresi, and Deacon Marian, who collaborated with four scholars from Banat and Hunedoara: Ștefan Herce [Herceg], “Gospel preacher” (Evangelical pastor) in Caransebeș; Efrem Zakan, “teaching teacher” in the same district; Moisi Peștișel, Gospel evangelist” in Lugoj, respectively Achirie, High Priest of Hunedoara County.
They interpreted a larger part of the Old Testament, of which only the first two books have been preserved. The printing costs were borne by the Hungarian nobleman Ferenc Gesti of Diva. The book was printed by the son of Kurisi, Serban, “the great master of styles,” along with Marianne Diacol, who first used our ethnonym “Romans”, and not “Romans”: “Give these books in our hands, we read and love and I wrote to them Foo, brethren.” Romans, and you read it.”
The Palia de la Orăştie print was supported by some reforming Transylvanian nobles, of Hungarian and Roman descent. At that time, both Lutherans and Calvinists, as well as Unitarians, attempted to lure the Transylvanian Romanians to the Reformation. The Lutheran church was predominantly German-speaking, and the Calvinist and Unitarian churches were predominantly Hungarian. During the Calvinist Princes of Transylvania, the Roman Orthodox Church of Transylvania was placed under the supervision of a Calvinist overseer (bishop), whose task was to persuade as many Romanians as possible to embrace Protestant dogmas and rituals. In fact, the Palia de la Orăştie was the work of one of the Calvinist bishops of the Transylvanian Roman Church, Mihai Tordaşi, who is mentioned in the introduction to the paper. The main financier of the cultural and religious approach was the Hungarian nobleman Ferenc Gesti of Deva.
“We see how all languages flourish and flourish in the glorious words of Domenidzio, only we Romanians have no language.” This is how the initiators of the Palia de la Orăştie motivated their work. The fact that this first attempt to translate the Bible into Roman was the work of Calvinists may have contributed to the decline in the popularity of this Roman-language memorial since the 16th century. In fact, the great French novelist and medieval literature specialist Mario Roque (1875-1961) made the first serious study of this work.
He printed a book (in French), in which he also mentioned the Roman translation of the Old Testament, a fundamental book of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism. This Old Testament was called the “Palia de la Orăştie” (1581-1582). French writer Roc’s book first appeared in Caransebes and then was prepared by Genesis in Paris.
On the first page (photo) it says:
“In the good faith and mercy of God, these Christian books must be arranged according to God’s will by the knowledge of Maryam al-Battari. [Báthory] Jigmon Voivodeship of Transylvania and the Land of Hungary, and with the Knowledge and Will of All the Great and Holy Masters of Ardial: On the Intricacies of the Holy Church of the Romans Jesus Christ Our Lord and His Atonement Amen. “
This remarkable historical fact, the first partial translation of the Old Testament into Roman (Palia de la Orăştie, 1582), reminds those of today of the cultural and scientific standing of the region in which its notoriety also emerged. I can’t help but wonder when and if we will reach the cultural value of Orştia last year, even if the mayors are proud of the “Orştia cultural capital” sign, we are now far from their slogan, and today we stick to “I was”!
Intriguing is the fact that, for the first time in history, this document used the ethnonym of Romanians, not Romanians. The translation of Palia de la Orăştie was based on a book, Pentateuhul, printed by the great Transylvanian scholar Gaspar Hiltay. This book appeared in 1551 in Cluj.
Like a curiosity, “Palia de la Orăștie” is the only book in Romania to which a public monument is dedicated, it is the group of statues carved in white marble by Rușchița by sculptor Nicolae Adam and located in the central square of the city. The monument consists of three sides that symbolize the stages of printing the book: the first side depicts the scholars who interpret the text in Romanian, the second represents the great men who took the book out of the printing press, and the third side illustrates the use of the Romans book.