The extraordinary story of MJ, as well as the editors' setbacks and mishaps inspired an American film crew to produce a feature hyphen length documentary, entitled The Great Adventure. The «Easy E Films» crew (directed by: Miodrag Certic; screen play: Mia Certic; camera: Zoran Hostater) filmed the roll hyphen out event of the Facsimile Edition inside the Jo 'burg Church of the Temple Faith Ministries, right in the heart of Soweto. One of the church's ministers is Desmond Lewis, also the main machinist at the SA Litho plant.
Academician Dejan Medakovic, president
of the Serbian Academy of Science and Art (SANU), delivering his address
during the Facsimile Edition's roll-out ceremony at Academy Grand
Academician Medakovic introducing the accompanying book of Commentaries. Academy members Pantic, palavestra and Stipcevic also spoke on this occasion.
Veljko Topalovic at the roll-out event at the Vukova Zaduzbina.
Veljko Topalovic and Dusan Mrdjenovic, presenting Miroslav`s Gospel – Facsimile Edition to H..R .H. Aleksandar II Karadjordjevic, at The White Court, in Belgrade.
Roll-out event during the International Book Fair in Belgrade 1998. Despite great interest in the first Serbian Facsimile, the Ministry of Culture did not issue a permit to display Miroslav`s Gospel – Facsimile Edition at the International Book Fair. In the event it was displayed at the far end of Hall #14, thanks to the kindness of fellow publishers, who closed their eyes to the Ministry’s omission.
The monks of the Hilandar monastery receiving a copy of Miroslav`s Gospel – Facsimile Edition during a ceremony at the National Museum in Belgrade.
Roll-out events in Kotor (left) and San Francisco.
The roll-out events at the Bijelo Polje and Ostrog monasteries.
The roll-out events at the St. Sava Church, in London.
The promotion in the Serbian Academy of
Science and Art (SANU)
Academician Dejan Medakovic
Coming to the world of such monument of spirituality,
language, art and culture of one nation, such antiquity, such historical
and national significance for Serbs, in each and every detail similar
to the original, in such splendid suit, glorious and justly eminent,
Yet in this moment we have a replica of Miroslav's Gospel that is literally identical to its original. This book reproduces with utter authenticity every page, every characteristic of ancient manuscript, every letter, initial, its size and shape, color and shade, every detail of its content, even the binding. It required a lot of effort, hardship and admirable ability of the editors. Let us say their names with gratitude: Dusan Mrdjenovic, Veljko Topalovic, and Branislav Brkic. Let us also mention their numerous associates and assistants, printers in Johannesburg in faraway South Africa with their outstanding skills and abilities. Only they know how much hard work and self-discipline and hardship this must have cost, how much invested effort and pain, how much suffering and inevitable misunderstandings with everyone, even with themselves, how many long and exhausting trips to Johannesburg and back, and how much sweat. Only they know and only they will remember I am sure, for as long as they live. But I am also very sure that they will find consolation in their work, consolation in the awareness and knowledge about the quality of the work they have performed, for the cultural and national benefit of the people, and, I am sure, for their own souls.
In this precious and solemn moment for all of us, all we could do to recompense for their genuine and great accomplishment is to congratulate them with all our hearts, and thank them for the blessed effort they put into such a great work, honoring Serbian publishing.
Academician Predrag Palavestra
If our nation and culture had had more luck, this day today would have been the festival of Serbian civilization. The first and the oldest written monument of Serbian language and literature, Miroslav's Gospel, from the XII century, in the technically most modern facsimile edition, is accessible again to science and to a wide range of readers and users. We would regard this hard and splendid work as a national accomplishment, especially as it could help the religious awakening and mutual self-recognition of today’s population. No better moment than when all the Serbs need self-consciousness, when they need to regain their self-esteem, when they need to come to their senses and see who they are, where they are from and how long they go back. We would set aside all misfortunes, mistakes and wanderings, clashes of competence that occurred while working on this edition, since they were neither the only ones nor the worst in a damaged society and an unsettled country, and try to use what we have in our hands to support our weary cultural self-conscience and our fallen national dignity. We could add the whole perplexed and obscure story about this book and this edition to already obscure dramatic and tangled history of the first Serbian Gospel writer. It seems, however, that even for eight hundred years the Serbian nation could not learn anything from the Gospel.
There are two major reasons why we should act this way. The first reason is that Miroslav's Gospel is the proof of long duration and significance of Serbian religious culture in the Middle Balkans. With its orthographic and calligraphic characteristics, the Gospel links the important origins of old literacy of Zeta and Hum - the Glagolitic tradition from Macedonia with Cyrillic orthography of Raska, which extended across Zahumlje to Bosnia, with solid traces of ethnic language in it. It connected Bosnia with "other Serbian states and literary centers", which "stretched across Ras or Prizren in Kosovo to monasteries spread north and east from Skopje, even all the way to Mt. Athos in the south". Due to the influence of national speech, which could be easily recognized in the manuscript of disciple Grigorije and other creators and rewriters of Miroslav's Gospel, Serbian religious culture adhered equally on all Balkan regions with Serbian as the dominant language, in historical continuity of Serbian literacy, undoubtedly conceived before the oldest preserved monument of XII century, and finally, through different forms of literature preserved to this day.
The other motive to support and appreciate this
cultural accomplishment, this technically immaculate edition of Miroslav"s
Gospel, is implied in the beauty and rarity of the book. This facsimile
edition of Miroslav"s Gospel is the perfect copy of an invaluable
manuscript from XII century. More so, by adjoining the long detached
and alienated page of Petrograd, the edition restored its original form
known and kept for centuries, perhaps even from the time of St. Sava,
at Chilandari monastery. Thanks to computer processing and state of
the art technology, the edition reached the highest boundaries of modern
publishing, and as far as the perfection of press and equipment is concerned,
one can only compare it with the most expensive bibliographic editions
that are still made today only in Italy and Switzerland. It took a lot
of skill, effort, patience and persistence, severe renunciation and
preparedness to bitter tolerance to sit in the unknown printing house
in faraway Johannesburg, half way across the world, like once in the
quiet script-room of the St. Peter’s church in Bijelo Polje, and try
to put the pieces together, all the colors and shadows, blots and spills
on frail parchment, lines of harshly printed Cyrillic letters, gilded
initials, decorations, overlaps and miniatures. They all shine now in
front of our eyes with the sacred divine peace and tranquility, which
we need today more than ever, so we can return to ourselves and regain
our self-conscience in the time of new temptations.
It seems that replicas also share the faith of their original in some particular way. The facsimile double, like Miroslav's Gospel itself, experienced adventures none of the participants in this work ever dreamed of. Now the year 1993 seems so distant, when we initiated this work in Belgrade by starting to collect material for the additional books.
Out of various reasons, for more than one century we had to anticipate this complete and authentic facsimile edition of the oldest Serbian book written in Cyrillic (we know that Miroslav’s Gospel was brought to Belgrade in 1896). At the end of this millennium, the book finally came out for the first time, genuinely reproduced, with color pages, guided initials and a reconstructed existing binding.
It was destined to carry out the technical part of the job on the other side of the world. In early 1997, we found ourselves under the unknown sky of Africa, where the only thing we could recognize was the Southern Cross. Like an iceberg that hides its true shapes and dimensions in the water, so one could not presuppose and perceive them until one plunges into the ocean's depth, the greatness of this project appeared in front of us in its true size, bigger each day, as we sank deeper into the assignment.
Printing preparation alone lasted more than a year. We worked practically without break, 24 hours a day. The printing alone started after that (facsimile, additional books, ownership agreement), then the binding arrangement (buying of leather, wooden panels, founding of metal ornaments and buckles) and finally binding of first copies…
Many years passed and we crossed thousands of kilometers with the Gospel. During these seven years we were the characters of a novel and the hero was our book that was creating its own destiny and that started with the verse: "In the beginning there was word…"
We crossed over 300 thousand kilometers, which is in fact the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and here we are, at the end.
And what was our goal?
We made three hundred authentic replicas of Miroslav's Gospel. Some of them already found their place on three continents, in special collections of the greatest libraries in the world, such as the Congress Library in Washington or the British National Library; in libraries in Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, together with the facsimiles of Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex and Guttenberg's Bible…
I have the honor of thanking all of those that helped us achieve this goal. I do so in the name of the publishers, the AIZ Dosije and Sluzbeni list SRJ, and especially in the name of the editors, Veljko Topalovic, Branislav Brkic and myself. A time limit and the protocol of this promotion do not allow me to mention everyone, a couple of hundred names, from the most respectable scientists, the finest craftsmen, to all those "ordinary" people, who provided us with their services for all these years.
Like so many times before, we received invaluable help and precious support from this venerable institution, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art, the SANU. The Academy recognized the importance of such an edition from the beginning, despite different and sometimes malicious interpretations of our work. Strangely enough, such comments came from those who did not have any rational reason to provide interpretations, and we will forget them soon so we can promptly concentrate on new editions.
I would use this occasion to express my satisfaction for successful overcoming of all the problems that finally proved to be just misunderstandings. To our mutual satisfaction, the agreement with the Ministry of culture has been signed at last, and we hope to work together on the world promotion of Serbian culture in the future. Due to the suggestion of the editors, and the compliance of the publishers and sponsors, issue No. 001 will be displayed at a public auction. All the funds collected on that occasion will be used for the purchase of a protective cabinet, in which the original Gospel would be kept in the future. At least this is something we owe to this magnificent book for a long time.
I have the enormous pleasure, before this assembly, to sincerely thank the reviewer of this whole project, Academician Dejan Medakovic, as well as the proficient advisors - academicians Miroslav Pantic and Predrag Palavestra. Their help was of great importance to us in every moment. It consisted of friendly advice and guidance, specific appendages, texts and documents, so our additional books acquired the significance of a very valuable and future compulsory professional volume about the oldest Serbian book written in Cyrillic script.
In conclusion, allow me, on behalf of the editors,
to acknowledge our colleagues journalists. They monitored our work for
years and all of them, almost without exception, objectively and honestly
informed their readers, viewers and listeners about everything.
Publishing accomplishment of the century
Dr. Dimso Peric
On September 18 of this year, in the Patriarchal Palace in Belgrade, His Beatitude Patriarch Pavle admitted Veljko Topalovic, the director, and Dusan Mrdjenovic, editor in chief of the “AIZ Dosije” from Belgrade, who published the facsimile edition of Miroslav's Gospel.
The printing of the facsimile edition of Miroslav's Gospel was finished this year on Vidovdan, in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, in the most modern graphic technique that exists in the world today.
The editorial work of this publication started back in 1993 and Veljko Topalovic, Dusan Mrdjenovic and Branislav Brkic generously embarked on it. They put a lot of effort into preparing this glorious edition, and obviously they did it out of passion for work of their glorious ancestors.
The editors wrote: “The life path of this book, which acquired the status of a relic since its creation, was unusually rough. It appears that only with God's help it managed to avoid the destiny of many burned, lost and stolen Serbian valuables. It seems as if the echo of ancient times reaches from its name and the very notion that Serbs preserved a precious relic from thieves, fire, enemies, oblivion, themselves, enraptures us…”
The Magna Charta Libertatum+, written in 1215 in the Latin language is only few decades younger than Miroslav’s Gospel. Vuk Karadzic was right when he wrote: “And we are not even aware of what we have in our own house.”
It is not a coincidence that the facsimile edition of this sacred book has appeared in this moment. Regardless of price, every national institution should obtain this edition.
Almost a year after it was completed in Johannesburg
[South Africa], the
Serbian culture will enter the next millennium
with the ban of the
Two reasons compelled us to return to the story
of Miroslav's Gospels,
In our previous article [published at the
end of last year], we did not