Meletij Smotryc’kyj viewed his Homilary Gospel (Jevanhelije ucytelnoje, Vievis, 1616) as a crucial requirement for the “spiritual good” of the Ruthenian (Ukrainian-Belorussian) nation. In light of the fierce debate over the Union of Brest (1596) he saw the need for an Orthodox collection of Gospel pericopes and sermons in the vernacular to supplant reliance on Polish Catholic and Protestant postils. Thus, he translated into Ruthenian a Church Slavonic collection of sermons on the Gospels, while simultaneously introducing formal revisions that allowed the work to compete more successfully with similar Polish texts.
As a result, the Homilary Gospel is important as a critical polemical text from the Catholic–Orthodox debate and also as a monument of early Ukrainian literature. This volume reproduces in facsimile the original printed edition along with three different versions of the Preface written by Smotryc’kyj. The Introduction sets the work in its literary and religious contexts and discusses Smotryc’kyj’s methods of translation and adaptation.