Volume 39, No.3 - Fall 1993
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester 
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1993 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Range, Jochen D. Bausteine zur Bretke-Forschung: Kommentarband zur Bretke-Edition (NT) = Biblia Slavica, series VI: Supplementum: Biblia Lithuanica, Reihe 3: Kommentarbände. Vol. 1 (ed. by Reinhold Olesch [deceased] and Hans Rothe with the collaboration of Friedrich Scholz), Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Ferdinand Schöningh, 1992.

In the foreword (pp. VII-VIII) we learn that Prof. Jonas Palionis of the University of Vilnius was the first to turn Range's attention to the importance of the Bretkūnas Bible translation for the history of the Lithuanian language. At that time Range saw no chance of realizing this important project, but in 1981 Prof. Friedrich Scholz suggested to Range that they collaborate on an edition of this translation and the latter then had the opportunity to occupy himself with the manuscript for a number of years. It soon became evident that extensive preliminary research was necessary for the preparation of the manuscript, so Prof. Scholz suggested that this preliminary work be expanded into a dissertation which in 1987 was accepted by the Westphalian Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. This dissertation was later expanded and new problem areas were included. Range writes that he hopes that his work would render access to Bretkūnas' Bible translation easier and might encourage others to undertake new work in this field. This volume then is a companion volume to the two volumes reviewed in this issue of Lituanus: PSALTERAS ING LIETVWISCHKĄ LIESZVWI pergulditas Jano Bretkūno; NAVIAS TESTAMENTAS ING LIETVWISCHKĄ LIESZVWI perraschitas per Janą Bretkūną. Labguwa (Labguva [Labiau]) 1580. Facsimile edition of both of the preceding by Jochen Dieter Range and Friedrich Scholz = Biblia Slavica, series VI: Supplementum: Biblia Lithuanica, Vol. 1.6/1.7 (ed. by Reinhold Olesch [deceased] and Hans Rothe with the collaboration of Friedrich Scholz), Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Ferdinand Schöningh, 1991.

The introduction (pp. 1-8) contains a brief biography of Bretkūnas who was born in 1536 in East Prussia not far from Friedland. It is usually thought that his mother was an Old Prussian and his father a German. In 1555 he entered the University of Königsberg but in January of 1557 we find him at the University of Wittenberg, the center of Protestant teaching in Germany. We do not know how long he studied in Wittenberg, but in 1562, he was given the pastorship in Labguva (Labiau). In a letter of January 1563 to Duke Albrecht, Bretkūnas expressed his desire to marry, since in his view, for a man of learning it was burdensome to eat in an inn where the simple people ran about. So in 1563 he married a certain Fraulein von Werthern. In 1579 he began his Bible translation in Labguva (Labiau). He was the first pastor in Labguva who was able to preach in Lithuanian. The conditions of life were difficult for him there, possibly because he didn't want to work the land which was assigned to him as part of his living, but finally he was transferred to Königsberg where he finished his Bible translation on 29 November 1590. He fell victim to the plague on the first of October, 1601 (pp. 4-6). The Germans considered him a German, because he signed his name in German as Johannes Bretke and the Lithuanians considered him a Lithuanian, because he signed his name in Lithuanian as Jonas Bretkūnas.

Bretkūnas was a very erudite person and knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin and perhaps Polish. In the course of his pastoral duties he was obliged to speak German, Lithuanian, Old Prussian and Curonian (already a dialect of Latvian) with his parishioners. Thus he was the only literary representative of the Baltic peoples who knew all three Baltic languages of which we have some record. (Sabaliauskas, 1986, 71).

The most important and truly the most difficult and complicated work by Bretkūnas is his Bible translation to which he devoted twelve years of his life. One must remember that at this time there was no Lithuanian grammar nor dictionary to help and he had to plow virgin land (Sabaliauskas, 1986, 70).

Chapter two is devoted to the exterior description of the manuscript. The first five folio volumes of the manuscript contain the Old Testament and the three quarto volumes the Psalter and the New Testament. Range notes certain deficiencies in the description written by Bezzenberger. For example; the manuscript has more different sizes of paper than Bezzenberger noted in his description (pp. 14-15). Bezzenberger had written that the water mark of the paper was a fish, whereas Range writes (p. 16) that there are five water mark groups with a total of 15 different water marks. In fact, in addition to three separate types of fish water mark, viz., the flounder, carp and crucian, there are also pitcher water marks. The order of the usage of paper in the manuscript reflects the history of paper in East Prussia (pp. 16-23). Range describes the numeration of the gatherings, leaves and pages, division into sections and verses and pericope remarks (pp. 23-34). Next there follows a description of the chronological order and periods during which the translations were made. On March 6th, 1579 Bretkūnas began a translation of Luke from the Latin text, which he finished on March 30th. Next, on October 1st of the same year he turned to Romans which he translated from the text prepared by Luther (p. 34). In the manuscript there are some entries which either do not bear on the Bible text or only indirectly do so. One of the later entries bears the intriguing title Nomina instrumentorum Musicor<um>ll quorum usus in Lithuania 'Names of musical instruments used in Lithuania' which Range believes to be the earliest collection of such names (p. 37). In chapter three, which concerns Bretkūnas' orthography, Range writes that the presentation of Bretkūnas' orthography is rendered difficult because the latter had in mind various Old Lithuanian dialects as the target language and different signs are sometimes to be understood not as orthographic variations for the representation of a single sound, but are sometimes to be considered as representing different sounds. Therefore it cannot be considered methodologically correct to try to interpret the signs without a knowledge of the target language. Range is very careful (p. 47) in his evaluation of the significance of the orthography of the New Testament and writes that even when there is data from contemporary Lithuanian one must exercise the greatest care. He compares two short passages from Luke (translated from Latin) and Matthew (translated from Luther's edition). In Luke we read, e.g., iapi 'to him,' bralei 'brothers,' bilaia 'said,' doną 'bread' whereas in Matthew we read, e.g., iop 'to him,' Brolei 'brothers,' Biloia 'said,' duoną 'bread.' It seems obvious that the o in Luke represents something different from the o in Matthew (pp. 48-49). Following this warning Range presents an inventory of the graphic signs (single letters, letters with diacritics, sequences of letters) and the apparently corresponding letter in modern Lithuanian. Thus, for example, corresponding to modern Lithuanian e one encounters e (geras 'good'), ę (gęras), ae (gaeras), ia (giaruiam); corresponding to modern Lithuanian ū one encounters V (Vkenikas 'disciple') (pp. 52-55). In this inventory it is stated that in Bretkūnas the i can be a sign for palatalization, e.g. Karaliaus 'king,' Kielkesi 'arise,' Schiczia 'that,' but the box for the contemporary Lithuanian counterpart is left empty, although in contemporary Lithuanian i can have the same function, cf. karalius 'king' where the i has this function also (p. 53). This is apparently just an oversight on the part of the author.

On p. 52 we encounter the word (Luke 11:31) dabakes 'behold' in which the -e- is said to correspond to contemporary Lithuanian -ie-. But Stang, 1942, 248-249 and 1966,427, suggests that there may originally have been an imperative particle *ke. In 1976, 127, Stang continued this notion pointing out that in North-West Samogitian dialects one does not find in the 2 sg. reflexive imperative -kis (-kęs). Stang also gives the dialect example dž'aukės 'rejoice' (Alsėdžiai, Seda) and quotes the examples from Mažvydas biakiese 326-7 'fear,' 1 pl. garbikiem 4814 'let us praise,' 2nd pl. imkiet 84 and 292 'take, receive' which he compares with Samogitian būk'em 'let us be' (Salantai), 1st pl. eik'em 'let's go,' 2nd pl. eik'et 'go.' If Stang is correct then dabakes might contain a final syllable /-kes/ rather than /-kies/. Nevertheless I personally am rather inclined to agree with Zinkevičius' 1966, 369, criticism of Stang's notions. Interestingly, however, Range's analysis of the orthography (p. 53) would seem to show that in a form such as 2nd sg. imperative Kielkesi 'arise' (Matthew 2:13) the orthographic -ie- would reflect palatalization of the velar plus the vowel /e/ whereas the second orthographic -e-would reflect the diphthong /ie/. In other words Kielkesi would be phonemicized something like /'kelkiesi/. As counter-intuitive as it may seem on the face of it, I personally would support such a phonemicization.

According to Range the double writing of consonants in Old Lithuanian texts can be of four kinds: (1) conventional, it can depend upon a prescription within the contemporary writing system (these can be either systematic, e.g., essi 'you are' or else sporadic addatos 'needle'), (2) etymological, i.e., when two consonants come together at a morphological boundary, e.g., ap-pleische 'tore'; (3) etymological-assimilatory, e.g., ussake 'ordered' (=contemporary užsakė); (4) in dependence on the spelling in the proto-type document, e.g.. Rabbi, Hosianna (p. 70). Range writes that in general the manuscript of Bretkūnas' Bible translation is not accented, but here and there both in the original version and the corrections the position of stress is marked (pp. 74-75). Bretkūnas does not mark vocalic length in Lithuanian, but uses rather the macron to denote position of stress and the breve to denote lack of stress. These signs are used primarily in those cases where there could be confusion otherwise, e.g., dabar 'now' (= contemporary dabar), vs. dabar 'still' (= contemporary dar).

In chapter four Range goes in detail into the problem of the proto-type text from which Bretkūnas' translations were made. The problem is made more difficult by the frequent shifting from one proto-type to another. Range gives the example in which the shift is made within a single sentence, thus, Bretkūnas translates Luke 6:45 as Nes ko (inst. sg.) Schirdis pilna ira, tai burna kalba 'Because the mouth speaks whatever the heart is full of in which the first clause is translated from German Denn wes das hertz voll ist 'Because whatever the heart is full of and the second from Latin os loquitur 'the mouth speaks.' Sometimes Bretkūnas used a commentary in the preparation of his translation. Thus in Matthew 19:24 we encounter: Piggiaus ira Werbliudu [correction - kardieliui 'rope'] eite per auli addatos 'It is easier for a camel [correction - rope] to pass through the eye (literally 'ear') of a needle...' (= German Es ist leichter das ein Kamel durch ein nadel ohre gehe; Latin Vulgate Facilius est camelum per foramen acus transire). Here the correction comes from a Greek text where instead of kamelos 'camel' the word kamilios 'rope' is suggested. Since Bretkūnas used many commentaries, it is often very difficult to establish the proto-type text from which he translated (p. 77). One must also take into account the corrections by three other persons in addition to Bretkūnas himself. These were Daniel Gallus, Nicolaus Siautil and Johannes Gedkant examples of whose handwriting Range gives (pp. 132-133).

We have direct evidence of the proto-type text from the second title page of the New Testament translation where we read: Naujas Testamentas II isch D. Martino Luthero II wokischko perguldijmo. II Lietuwischkai ischraschitas II per Ianą Bretkuną Labgu- II wos pleboną. The New Testament from Dr. Martin Luther's German translation, transcribed into Lithuanian by Janas Bretkunas, pastor of Labguva.' According to this title page Luther's text should have been the primary source for the translation of the entire New Testament, but this is clearly not true because we know that Luke was translated from Latin and elsewhere entire verses are translated from other sources (p. 80). Range states that Bretkunas must have used as one of the proto-type texts the Luther Bible of 1546 or a later edition of the 1546 Bible and an edition of the Luther Bible 1522-1527, probably one of the editions 1522-1525 (p. 97). The only indication of the use of Latin proto-type text is in Bretkūnas' hand at the end of the translation of Luke: Isch latinischka perguldita II per Janan Bretkunan Laba- II guwas Plęboną. Translated from Latin by Janas Bretkunas, pastor of Labguva.' Although for Luke the Latin text was the primary source for the translation, the German text was a secondary one (p. 98). Certain syntactic features of Bretkūnas' Bible translation may reflect Latin influence:

(1) the pronominal co-ordinator construction (German relativischer Anschluss) in which a relative pronoun functions for a pronoun plus some other connecting word, e.g., Luke 4:43 Kuriemus ghis sake = Lat. Quibus ille ait - German Er sprach aber zu jnen 'And he said to them,' Luke 7:0 Ką kaip ischgirda. Jesus nussistebejęs = Lat. Quo audito lesus miratus est = German Da aber Jhesus das höret, verwundert er sich sein 'But when Jesus heard this he marveled'; (2) the accusative with the infinitive, e.g., Luke 2:44 Tikedamies tada ghį buti draugibeie eianczų = Latin Existimantes autem illum esse in comitatu = German sie meineten aber, er were vnter den Geferten '(they) supposing him to be in the company (of those going),' Mark 14:12 Kur nori mus eiti = German Wo wiltu, das wir hin gehen = Latin Quo vis eamus 'where do you want us to go' (note the curious syntactic similarity of the Old Lithuanian to the modern English translation); (3) confusion of the dative and instrumental, e.g., Luke 1:22 negaleia ieis (instrumental plural for expected dative) kalbeti = Latin nan poterat logui ad illos = German kundte er nicht mit jnen reden 'he could not talk to (with) them; (4) the so-called instrumental absolute, e.g., Luke 1:23 issipildus[amis] dienamis ureda ia = Latin ut impleti sunt dies officii eius = German da die Zeit seines Ampts auswar 'when the period of his service was over.' Range notes (p. 107) that these deviations from the norm of standard Lithuanian make up a very small portion of the entire text of the translation. He says that the pronominal coordinator construction is conditioned by the Latin proto-type since it only occurs in Luke. Other evidences of Latin influence are more complex and cannot be easily decided.

In chapter five Range turns to two textological questions of Bretkūnas' translation (1) Had Bretkūnas already translated parts of the New Testament and the Psalter? and (2) Was there a second writer of the fundamental document (Grundschicht)? On the basis of the various facts, including a letter which Duke Albrecht received in July of 1580 and in which Bretkūnas complains that he has spent many years (viel Jhar) translating books of the Old and New Testament into Lithuanian, Range comes to the conclusion that some of the Bible had already been translated before 1579. On the basis of handwriting analysis Range also suspects that there was a second person who wrote some of the text (Luke 4:1-20). The person wrote the text from dictation, although the translator was Bretkūnas himself and there seems to be evidence that the writer came from the Latvian dialect area (p. 158).

Chapter six deals with the variants, corrections and various chronological periods of the text. According to Range, the numerous text corrections in Bretkūnas' New Testament translation were evidently not made at the same time and a relative chronology for these must be established (p. 159). The difficulty of preparing an edition of Bretkūnas' Bible translation does not lie in the legibility or lack thereof of the text, but rather in the organization of the numerous variants in various periods of correcting and the establishment of their chronology. Range (pp. 162-163) shows graphically a method of depicting the various chronological levels of corrections with Latin Vulgate at the top, directly under which is the basic Lithuanian translation and various corrections with the Luther translation at the bottom, e.g., Luke 15:

Vulgate-Fuit in diebus        Herodis, regis ludaeae

Fundamental Lith.             Busa dienają Heroda karaliaus Szidawas,
I                                 dienasą [cziesu]
II                        Buwa                cziesu
III                                                   cziesu Szidų
Final hand (Fassung der I. Hand)                cziesu
Luther                                       Zu der Zeit Herodis des Königs Judee

There was (Latin - in the days; German - at the time) of Herod, King of Judaea (of the Jews)...' One can see even from this brief example where Lith. dienasą 'in the days' reflects Lat in diebus and Lith. dziesu 'at the time' reflects German Zu der zeit that in Luke there was a shift from the Vulgate to the Luther version for the prototype of the translation. Because of reasons of space and economy in the proposed edition of Bretkūnas' a more traditional method of presentation with copious footnotes will be adopted.

Chapter seven is devoted to Bretkūnas' variations in parentheses and their function and chapter eight concerns the lexical variants in Bretkūnas' translation of the New Testament and their function. According to Range the most striking characteristic of the New Testament translation is its high degree of inconsistency, i.e., linguistically and stylistically identical texts are rendered different ways in different places in the translation (p. 194). The difficulty of making a judgment about these texts stems from the fact that it is impossible to identify a direction from the original text to the final correction. For example, in the first version of the Psalter on the title page Bretkūnas writes: PSALTERAS ING LIETVWISCHKĄ LIESZVWĮ perraschitas Per. Here he interrupts the phrase and inserts (on a title page, no less!) four more variants for perraschitas, viz. ischgulditas, ischverstas, ischraschits and perstatitas and continues the sentence with per laną. Then he apparently noticed that he had already written Per and he strikes out the four variants and per laną up to perraschitas and writes his first name again, but this time in the form Ioaną and continues with Bretkuną Labguwos II pleboną II. In a later period of correcting Bretkūnas strikes out perraschitas and replaces it with a new sixth variant, viz. pergulditas. At this time Bretkūnas also strikes out per Ioaną Bretkuną replacing it with the genitive of agent, viz. Ioano Bretkuno, but then he changes Ioano to Iano, thereby returning to the earlier spelling of his name. In some instances it is possible to understand Bretkūnas' motives in using one word rather than another. For example, in Luke the Lithuanian translation of Gk. kurios 'lord, master,' Lat. dominus, German Herr is usually viešpat(i)s but in the middle of the Gospel we find the word ponas used four times. Here Range sees the influence of one of the pericope texts, viz. Vilentas' Euangelias bei Epistolas (Gospels and epistles) which uses ponas (p. 195).

A very useful feature of chapter eight is also the collection of words from Luther's text with location noted in Bretkūnas' New Testament translation (p. 199-203). Range analyses a sampling of these words from Abgrund 'abyss, bottomless pit' (Gk. abussos, Lat. abyssus, Luther Tiefe, Abgrund - Lith. giluma, gilibe, begrunto, Bedugnies, etc.) to Weinstock 'vine' (Gk. ampelos, Lat. vitis - Lith. wina, winatsola, Wienmedis, etc.) Range concludes that Bretkūnas' translation strategy in the New Testament consisted of establishing as large as possible a number of Lithuanian counterparts for the words in the proto-type text. Apparently Bretkunas had a great love for lexicography and tried to gather as many words as possible (pp. 237-238).

Chapter nine is devoted to a criticism of the words from Bretkunas in volumes I-XIII of the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary (Lietuvių kalbos žodynas, Vilnius 1941 ff.). Range points out that the lack of a good glossary for Bretkunas has led to some confusion. For example, under the entry abazas in the second edition of volume I (1968) we encounter the definition pulkas, būrys, gauja 'crowd, crew, gang' with the quotation from Bretkūnas: A visos žmonės, kurie abaze (guote) buvo, nusigando which has the Latin proto-type et timuit populus gui erat in castris, Luther Das gantz Volck aber das im Lager war, erschrack 'and (all) the people who were in the camp became afraid.' Here guote 'in the group' was confused with guole 'in the camp' because Bretkūnas' letter -l- frequently differs from -t- only by its height. Sometimes the Academy Dictionary does not give the oldest occurrence which is probably to be found in Bretkunas, e.g., ašutas horse-hair' which is in Bretkūnas' New Testament, Revel. 6:12 'sackcloth of hair, coarse black cloth,' balamutas 'deceiver, empty talker' in Acts 17:18 ką schis Ballamuts nor sakiti 'what does this babbler want to say?,' brėškimas in Hebrews 12:18 breschkimas 'darkness' (Luther tunckel), etc. (p. 246). Range writes that after analyzing 25 examples in the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary for the kind of reference to Bretkunas New Testament translation he concludes (1) that the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary does not completely take into account the vocabulary of Bretkūnas' New Testament, (2) that the statements in the Lithuanian Academy Dictionary concerning the meaning of individual words in Bretkūnas' New Testament are partly false and partly incomplete, (3) the reconstructed basic form (nominative singular) on the basis of the quoted form is not always necessarily correctly derived, (4) the Academy Dictionary does not always give the earliest attestation of a word, there frequently being between the earliest attestation quoted by the Academy Dictionary and the actually existing earliest attestation a period of more than 300 years (p. 253).

In the final chapter Range writes that the text of Bretkūnas' New Testament is so varied that in a preliminary study one must conclude that one encounters features from not one, but various dialects. The language of the Bretkūnas' New Testament is the result of specific changes made within the text. For example, the final version of Luke 1:5 reads: buwa plebonas wardu Zachariaschus isch ailios abia, ir materischke...'there was a priest by the name of Sachariah of the priestly order of Abia and his wife...' Here the form materischke with its -a- (reflecting etymological *-a-) seems inconsistent with the -o- of plebonas and ailios (also reflecting etymological *-a-). But what happened was that in correcting the text Bretkunas merely added the letters -rischke to an original mate without changing the -a- to -o-. The dative singular masculine of the -i- and consonant stems in Lithuanian is regularly -iui, e.g., wieschpacziui 'to the lord,' but once in the whole text Bretkūnas used -i- in the word wieschpati Except for this word there is no dative singular in -i. As far as word order is concerned, for Luther's des menschen Son 'the son of man, (literally) of man the son' in Mark we encounter szmogaus sunus '(literally) of man the son' eight times vs. sunus szmogaus 'the son of man' five times. One might think that the first group is a good example of the Lithuanian preposed genitive. In reality both word orders depend on the proto-type because in Luke, which is translated from Latin we encounter only sunus szmogaus 26 times where it is a direct translation from Latin filius hominis. According to Range the language of Bretkūnas New Testament is a Mischsprache 'a mixed language' in the sense that Bretkūnas as much as possible blended the various proto-type texts and the dialects together for all or at least many of the 'litthauisch redenden Stämme' 'Lithuanian speaking groups' (pp. 255-256).

The book ends with a kind of resume (Zusammenfassung), a bibliography, an index of biblical references and a general index. I applaud this as a sound piece of thorough scholarship and one which has advanced markedly our knowledge of Bretkūnas and his method of working. I congratulate Jochen Range on his achievement.


Sabaliauskas, Algirdas. 1986. Mes Baltai, Kaunas, Šviesa.
Stang, Chr. S. 1942. Das slavische und baltische Verbum. Oslo, Jacob Dybwad.
— 1966. Vergleichende Grammatik der Baltischen Sprachen. Oslo/ Bergen Tromsö.
— 1976. Litauisch -k(i), -g(i), -gu. Norwegian Journal of Linguistics 30.127-131.
Zinkevičius, Z. 1966. Lietuvių dialektologija. Vilnius, Mintis.

William R. Schmalstieg
The Pennsylvania State University