After his brother's death, Methodius set out to continue their common work. In short order Kocel made a request to the Pope to allow Methodius to return to Moravia. In a letter addressed not only to Kocel, but also to the Princes Rostislav and Sventopluk, the Pope granted permission for the return and the use of the Slavonic liturgy on the condition that the Epistle and Gospel be read first in Latin before Slavonic.
After a brief stay in Pannonia, Methodius returned to Rome and was given papal authority to administer over Pannonia and Moravia. This had the undesirable consequence of enraging the Bavarian bishops in Passau and Salzburg who laid claim to the same territory. When Sventopluk, with the aid of the Franks, dethroned Rostislav in 870 or 871, Methodius was taken into custody and left to the mercy of the German bishops. As a result, Methodius was imprisoned for two and a half years. Finally Pope John VIII became aware of Methodius' plight and petitioned for his release. Methodius immediately returned to Moravia, this time under more favorable auspices, since Sventopluk had since driven out the German clergy. The tides briefly turned against Methodius when, in 879, Pope John VIII forbade the use of the Slavonic liturgy. But Methodius' diligence again gained a sympathetic ear, and the Pope subsequently ordered Sventopluk to reinstate the Slavonic liturgy in 880.
In the final years of his life Methodius endeavored to complete the task of translation started earlier with his brother. The two together seem to have translated the Psalter and New Testament, save Revelation. Methodius continued by translating the Old Testament to the exclusion of Maccabees, and other liturgical texts. Methodius finally passed away on 6 April 885.
The beginning of the story of the Death of Lazarus, John 11:1-23, follows below. This passage represents a climax in the miracles worked by Jesus, and the OCS translation consequently remains very close to the original. Dialogue features prominently within the passage, and its rendering in OCS reveals several questions about our knowledge of the OCS language. The attempt to reconstruct some approximation to the spoken language from its often meager representation in written documents is a task that occupies a central position in historical linguistics. On the surface this passage affords us a rare window into such spoken discourse. One finds herein several direct statements from Jesus, His disciples, and Martha.
Several mitigating factors, however, must inform one's analysis of the dialogue. First and foremost, the wording remains extremely close to the original Greek. For instance,
se egozhe l'jubishi bolitu' 'Lo! whom you love is sick'
corresponds word for word to the Greek. The same holds true for the rest of the direct speech in this passage. Hence, as we attempt to tease out the colloquial speech habits of the Slavonic speaking community for whom this was written, we are reined in by the possibility that the sentence structure is dictated more by the Greek than the OCS. As always, one must bear in mind that the translation was made to be understood, and thus the phrasing must be reasonably close to what a native speaker would say; nevertheless such a statement might never be uttered by a native speaker.
In addition to the problem of rendering the mere speech encountered in the passage, the translator here was forced to cope with the problem of rendering vocal misunderstanding. To wit, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus "is asleep", yet the disciples misunderstand this as mere slumber instead of the intended euphemism for death. The Greek uses the word kekoimetai 'is asleep'; the basic sense is one of 'lying down', and therefore may be interpreted as lying down in slumber or in death. The Greek then states more precisely which interpretation the disciples chose, saying the disciples thought Jesus spoke of the koimeseos tou hypnou 'of the lying down of sleep'. The problem faced by the translator is to emulate this situation: first to use a phrase with a double meaning; then to resolve the ambiguity by means of another qualifying word or phrase.
The phrase chosen for this resolution is o usu'peni'i su'na. The question remains as to how effectively this clears the ambiguity. Both words are clearly cognate to the word for 'sleep' -- is this phrase therefore any more specific than the original word usu'pe '(Our friend Lazarus) is asleep' which led to the initial confusion? Given the rarity of usu'peni'e in OCS texts, it is difficult to establish in English its distinction from su'nu'. It is in fact unclear whether this rare word was actually a word in common use chosen to translate koimesis, or whether it was a coinage devised specifically for translational purposes.
What has happened, in fact, is that the translator has actually followed the morpho-syntactic structure of the Greek: the initial verb kekoimetai is subsequently elucidated by a cognate abstract noun koimesis with a qualifying genitive. Similarly in OCS, the verb usu'pe is subsequently elucidated by a cognate abstract noun usu'peni'e with a qualifying genitive. Such close following of the original Greek must give the historical linguist pause in drawing any concrete conclusions on the nature of the spoken OCS language as represented in the extant manuscripts.
bje' zhe bole^ eteru' lazaru' otu' vithani'e^ gradi'tsa mari'ina i marthy sestry ee^ | bje' zhe mari'ja pomazavu'shija gospoda miromu' i oti'ru'shi nodzje' ego vlasy svoimi ee^zhe bratu' lazaru' bolje'ashe |
posu'laste zhe sestrje' ego ku' n'emu glagol'jo^shti gospodi se egozhe l'jubishi bolitu' | slyshavu' zhe iisusu' retche si bolje'zni' nje'stu' ku' su'mri'ti nu' o slavje' bozhi'i da proslavitu' se^ synu' bozhi'i ejo^ |
ljubl'jaashe zhe iisusu' martho^ i sestro^ ee^ i lazara | egda zhe uslysha jako bolitu' togda zhe prje'bystu' na n'emi' zhe bje' mje'stje' du'va di'ni |
po tomi' zhe glagola utchenikomu' idje'mu' vu' ijudje'jo^ paky | glagolashe^ emu utchenitsi ego ravvi nyn'ja iskaakho^ tebe kameni'emi' pobiti ijudje'i i paky ideshi tamo |
otu'vje'shta iisusu' ne du'vje' li na dese^te godinje' este vu' di'ne | ashte ku'to khoditu' vu' di'ne ne potu'knetu' se^ jako svje'tu' mira sego viditu' | ashte li ku'to khoditu' noshti'jo^ potu'knetu' se^ jako svje'ta nje'stu' o n'emi' |
si retche i po semi' glagola imu' lazaru' drugu' nashi' usu'pe nu' ido^ da vu'zbuzhdo^ i | rje'she^ zhe emu utchenitsi ego gospodi ashte usu'pe su'pasenu' bo^detu' |
vje'shta zhe iisusu' o su'mri'ti ego oni zhe mi'nje'she^ jako o usu'peni'i su'na glagol'etu' | togda retche imu' iisusu' ne obinue^ se^ lazaru' umrje'tu' i radujo^ se^ vasu' radi da vje'ro^ imete jako ne bje'khu' tu nu' idemu' ku' n'emu |
retche zhe thoma naritsaemu'i blizni'tsi' ku' utchenikomu' idje'mu' my da umi'remu' su' n'imi' | prishedu' zhe iisusu' vu' vithani'jo^ obrje'te i juzhe tchetyri di'ni imo^shti' vu' grobje' |
bje' zhe vithani'ja bliz ierusalima jako pe^ti' na dese^te stadii | mu'nodzi zhe otu' ijudje'i bje'akho^ prishi'li ku' marthje' i mari'i da utje'shajo^tu' i o bratrje' eju |
martha zhe egda uslysha jako iisusu' gre^detu' su'rje'tu' i a mari'ja doma sje'dje'ashe | retche zhe martha ku' iisusu gospodi ashte bi si'de bylu' ne bi bratru' moi umri'lu' |
nyn'ja vje'mi' jako egozhe kolizhi'do prosishi u boga dastu' tebje' bogu' | glagola ei iisusu' vu'skri'si'netu' bratru' tvoi |
bje' zhe bole^ eteru' lazaru' otu' vithani'e^ gradi'tsa mari'ina i marthy sestry ee^ | bje' zhe mari'ja pomazavu'shija gospoda miromu' i oti'ru'shi nodzje' ego vlasy svoimi ee^zhe bratu' lazaru' bolje'ashe | posu'laste zhe sestrje' ego ku' n'emu glagol'jo^shti gospodi se egozhe l'jubishi bolitu' | slyshavu' zhe iisusu' retche si bolje'zni' nje'stu' ku' su'mri'ti nu' o slavje' bozhi'i da proslavitu' se^ synu' bozhi'i ejo^ | ljubl'jaashe zhe iisusu' martho^ i sestro^ ee^ i lazara | egda zhe uslysha jako bolitu' togda zhe prje'bystu' na n'emi' zhe bje' mje'stje' du'va di'ni | po tomi' zhe glagola utchenikomu' idje'mu' vu' ijudje'jo^ paky | glagolashe^ emu utchenitsi ego ravvi nyn'ja iskaakho^ tebe kameni'emi' pobiti ijudje'i i paky ideshi tamo | otu'vje'shta iisusu' ne du'vje' li na dese^te godinje' este vu' di'ne | ashte ku'to khoditu' vu' di'ne ne potu'knetu' se^ jako svje'tu' mira sego viditu' | ashte li ku'to khoditu' noshti'jo^ potu'knetu' se^ jako svje'ta nje'stu' o n'emi' | si retche i po semi' glagola imu' lazaru' drugu' nashi' usu'pe nu' ido^ da vu'zbuzhdo^ i | rje'she^ zhe emu utchenitsi ego gospodi ashte usu'pe su'pasenu' bo^detu' | vje'shta zhe iisusu' o su'mri'ti ego oni zhe mi'nje'she^ jako o usu'peni'i su'na glagol'etu' | togda retche imu' iisusu' ne obinue^ se^ lazaru' umrje'tu' i radujo^ se^ vasu' radi da vje'ro^ imete jako ne bje'khu' tu nu' idemu' ku' n'emu | retche zhe thoma naritsaemu'i blizni'tsi' ku' utchenikomu' idje'mu' my da umi'remu' su' n'imi' | prishedu' zhe iisusu' vu' vithani'jo^ obrje'te i juzhe tchetyri di'ni imo^shti' vu' grobje' | bje' zhe vithani'ja bliz ierusalima jako pe^ti' na dese^te stadii | mu'nodzi zhe otu' ijudje'i bje'akho^ prishi'li ku' marthje' i mari'i da utje'shajo^tu' i o bratrje' eju | martha zhe egda uslysha jako iisusu' gre^detu' su'rje'tu' i a mari'ja doma sje'dje'ashe | retche zhe martha ku' iisusu gospodi ashte bi si'de bylu' ne bi bratru' moi umri'lu' | nyn'ja vje'mi' jako egozhe kolizhi'do prosishi u boga dastu' tebje' bogu' | glagola ei iisusu' vu'skri'si'netu' bratru' tvoi |
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (2) (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) (3) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. (4) When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. (5) Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. (6) When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. (7) Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. (8) His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? (9) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. (10) But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. (11) These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. (12) Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. (13) Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. (14) Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. (15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. (16) Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. (17) Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. (18) Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: (19) And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. (20) Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. (21) Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (22) But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. (23) Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
The term consonant stem is used to designate a broad group of less frequent nouns which share a common set of declensional endings. Most may be viewed as original consonant stems back to the Indo-European period. Some, however, are only to be seen as consonant stems within the OCS language itself. The hallmark of this system of declension is the genitive ending -e. Sometimes one finds the genitive in -i by analogy with the i-stem nouns, and in the later stages of the language the distinction between the two declension types is lost.
This is a class of nouns not properly deemed "consonant stems" on historical grounds. Originally they were long-u-stems. However because OCS treats v as a consonant, and because the case endings are identical with other consonant stems, it is convenient to treat v-stems as consonant stems. The declension is exemplified by tsri'ky 'church'.
At times on finds nouns in this category adopting some endings of the feminine i-stems. An example of this is the noun kru'vi' 'blood'.
|G||kru've, kru'vi||-||kru'vi'i, kru'vu'|
All nouns of this declension are feminine.
The masculine nouns in this declension have nominative in -y, the neuter nouns in -e^. The suffix -en- intervenes between root and ending. Some o-stems in -je'ninu', -aninu' also follow this declension in the plural. Exemplars are the masculine nouns kamy 'stone' and di'ni' 'day', and the neuter ime^ 'name'.
|N Du.||kameni||di'ni||imenje', imeni|
|N Pl.||*kamene||di'ne, di'ni'je||imena|
The nominative singular in -y occurs only in kamy 'stone' and plamy 'flame'. Forms without the e preceding n also occur, for example L sg. kamni; likewise there are forms with i' replacing the e, as in G sg. kami'ni'je' for kameni'je.
The short form of adjectives has already been presented. For the most part, these simply follow the declension of the corresponding nouns. Thus dobru', dobra, dobro are the masculine, feminine and neuter nominative singular forms of the adjective 'good'. However there is a second formation for adjectives known as the compound, long, or pronominal form of adjectives, which is derived from the short form by addition of the 3rd person pronoun *i (*ji'). Thus the long forms corresponding to dobru', dobra, dobro are dobru' + ji', dobra + ja, dobro + je > dobry-i, dobra-ja, dobro-je 'that good one'. The final pronominal element is sometimes clearly distinguished; however contraction and assimilation often occur, obscuring the elements constituting the ending.
As with the short forms, the long forms divide into hard and soft stems. Hard stem compound adjectives are declined like dobru' 'good'.
|N V Sg.||dobryi||doboje||dobraja|
|N V Du.||dobraja||dobrje'i||dobrje'i|
|N V Pl.||dobrii||dobraja||dobryje^|
It should be noted that assimilation and contraction often work to smooth the transition from the short adjective ending to the following pronoun. Thus there are variants such as N sg. masc. dobry, -ru'i, -roi; fem. dobraa; A sg. fem. dobro^; G sg. masc./neut. dobraago, dobrago; L sg. masc./neut. dobje'je'mi', dobrje'ami', dobrje'mi'; D sg. masc./neut. dobruumu, dobrumu; I sg. masc./neut. dobru'imi', dobrymi'; fem. dobrojo^. Similarly for the dual and plural forms.
The soft stem compound adjectives are declined like nishti' 'poor'.
|N V Sg.||nishti'i||nishteje||nishtaja|
|N V Du.||nishtaja||nishtii||nishtii|
|N V Pl.||nishtii||nishtaja||nishte^je^|
As with the hard stems, the soft stem forms also appear in assimilated and contracted variants. For example, N sg. masc. nishtii (the result of tense postion of the jer, but thence) nishti; I sg. masc./neut. nishtimi'; fem. nishtejo^.
The l-participle, sometimes called the resultative participle or second past active participle, is a simple formation derived from the aorist-infinitve stems of verbs. To the stem is added the suffix -lu', which is then declined as a hard stem, short-form adjective. The participle is not used in an arbitrary adjectival role as are most other participles; rather this particular participle is used only in compound verbal constructions. As a result, it is only found in the nominative singular and plural. The following are examples from the various verbal conjugations.
|I||nesti 'to carry'||nes-lu', -la, -lo 'having carried'|
|II||dvigno^ti 'to move'||dvig-lu', -la, -lo 'having moved'|
|III||znati 'to know'||zna-lu', -la, -lo 'having known'|
|IV||moliti 'to beg'||moli-lu', -la, -lo 'having begged'|
|V||dati 'to give'||da-lu', -la, -lo 'having given'|
Verbs of the first conjugation with stems in final -k or -r use a reduced grade of the root-vowel. Hence vlje'shti 'to drag, pull', 1st. sg. vlje'ko^, part. vlu'klu'; trje'ti 'to rub', 1st. sg. ti'ro^, part. tri'lu'; mrje'ti 'to die', 1st. sg. mi'ro^, part. mri'lu'. Stem-final t, d, j is dropped, so that plesti 'to weave', 1st. sg. pleto^, part. plelu'. The verb iti 'to go', 1st. sg. ido^, uses the suppletive stem shi'd-, hence part. shi'lu' 'having gone'.
The OCS language is replete with particles that may be affixed to verbs or nouns to color the root meaning. Likewise, despite having a rather full case system, OCS also make use of several prepositions to add further nuance. Some of the more frequent of these prefixes and prepositions are given below.
Among the particles used solely as prefixes are pro- 'through', prje'- 'over, through', raz- or ras- 'asunder'. Examples are roku' 'fixed day', but proroku' 'prophet'; dragu' 'dear', but prje'dragu' 'very dear'; umu' 'mind', but razumu' 'intellect'.
More common are particles which may function either as prefixes or as prepositions. In the instances where they function as prepositions, each one is used only with certain of the nominal cases. In general, the case or cases governed by a given preposition concur with the sense elicited, but at other times the relation between meaning and case is not obvious. The following are some of the more important examples.
vu' 'in' with A. (denoting direction), e.g. vu' tu' di'ni' 'that day'; with L. (place), e.g. vu' kupje' 'together'.
vu'z or vu's 'for, in exchange for' with A., e.g. vu's ko^jo^ 'why?'.
za 'for, after, behind' with A. (direction); with I. (place), e.g. je^ti za vlasy 'to seize by the hair'; with G. (in the sense 'because').
iz or is 'from, out' with G., e.g. izdro^ky < iz ro^ky 'from the hand'.
na 'on, to, upon' with A. (direction); with L. (place), e.g. izlijashe^ ogni' na zemi'jo^ 'they poured fire on earth'.
nadu' 'on, upon, over' with A. (direction), e.g. nadu' glavo^ 'over the head'; with I. (place).
o or ob 'over, round, about' with A. (direction), e.g. ob noshti' vi'so^ 'the whole night through'; with L. (place).
otu' 'from, away' with G., e.g. otu' nebese 'from heaven'.
po originally 'under, below', later with A. (extension in space or time), e.g. po vi'se^ grady 'through all towns'; with L. (temporal and local), e.g. po tomi' zhe 'after that'; with D. (extension in space), e.g. po morjo^ khode^ 'walking over the sea'.
podu' 'under, beneath' with A. (direction), e.g. podu' nogy 'under the feet'; with I. (situation), e.g. podu' nogama 'under the feet'.
pri 'at, at the time' with L., e.g. pri vradzje'khu' 'among the heathen'.
prje'du' 'in front of, before' with A. (direction); with I. (situation), e.g. prje'du' gradomi' 'in the vicinity of the city'.
su' 'for the extent of' with A., e.g. su' laku'ti' 'a cubit long'; 'from, off, away' with G., e.g. su' nebese 'down from heaven'; 'with' with I. (association, not instrument), e.g. su' nimi' 'with him'.
u 'at' with G., e.g. u dvi'ri'tsi' 'at the doors'.
The long and short forms of the adjective have distinct syntactical roles. In general the long form is used attributively, whereas the short form is predicative: tchlovje'ku' dobru' 'a good man, man is good'; tchlovje'ku' dobryi 'the good man, the man who is good'. The short form is indefinite in meaning, 'man is good'. The combination of a short-form adjective with substantive is used when the signified entity is presented as new, without prior reference. Hence vu' peshti' ogn'i'no^ 'into a furnace, a fiery one'. The long form, by contrast, acts as a pointer and is definite, 'the good man'. The long-form adjective with substantive combination is used when the adjective presents a quality known to be associated with the substantive modified. Hence vu' geono^ ogn'i'no^jo^ 'into hell the fiery'. The compound form is often rendered in English by a relative clause: 'into the hell which is fiery'.
Adjectives used as substantives are themselves subject to the long and short form distinction. Again the long form refers to a substantive previously introduced or assumed known. Thus privje'she^ ku' n'emu slje'pa... i imu' slje'paego za ro^ko^ 'they brought to him a blind man... and having taken the blind man by the hand...'.
In a sequence of coordinated participles, when used as substantives, it is typical for only the first to use the long form. The following substantives use the short form. Hence slyshe^i slovesa moja i tvore^ ja... 'he who hears my words and does them...'.