CYRIL (called also Constantine the Philosopher):

Apostle of the Slavonians and author of the Slavonic alphabet (Cyrillitza), which is probably a modification of an older Slavonic alphabet (Glagola); born at Salonica about 820; died in Rome Feb. 14 869. His baptismal name was Constantine, and on account of his learning he was called "the philosopher." In his last days he became a monk, and took the name Cyril, by which he is generally known. When the empress regent, Theodora the Byzantine, received in 848 a deputation from the king of the Chazars, with the request to send him a learned man to conduct a religious controversy with the Jews and Mohammedans, Cyril and his elder brother Methodius (died 885) were chosen for the mission. On their way they stopped at Kherson (Chersonesus), and Cyril acquired a knowledge of the Hebrew language and literature from the Jews of that place. He then translated into Slavonic the Old Testament and "eight parts" of the Hebrew grammar.

According to Archbishop Filaret, in his treatise on Russian theological literature entitled "Obzor Russkoi Dukhovnoi Literatury," published in "Uchonyya Zapiski Vtorovo Otdyelyeniya Akademii Nauk," iii. 1, 3, the philosopher translated the "eight parts" of the grammar from Hebrew into Greek. This translation is now lost, as is also his work on the controversy with the rabbis, which his brother Methodius translated into Slavonic. A. Harkavy, in his treatise "Slyedy Znakomstva s Yevreiskim Yazykom," etc., on traces of the knowledge of Hebrew in the ancient Russian writings, is of the opinion that the grammar referred to was translated from Greek into Slavonic.

Owing to the friendship existing at that time between the Byzantine empire and the kingdom of the Chazars, it was natural that Constantine should succeed in converting a couple of hundred heathens and Greeks to the Greek Catholic Church; the majority of the people, however, remained Mohammedan, and the king and his court still confessed Judaism at about the middle of the tenth century, as is seen from the letter of King Joseph to Ḥasdai ibn Shaprut, dated about 960.

  • V. A. Bilbassov, Kirill i Mefody po Dokumentalnym Istochnikam, 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1868, 1871;
  • A. D. Voronov, Glavnyeishie Istochniki dlya Istorii Kirilla i Metodi, Kiev, 1877;
  • I. Martynov, St. Methode, Apôtre des Slaves, et les Lettres des Souverains Pontifes, Conservées au British Museum (1880) ;
  • Baratz, Kirillo-Mefodievskie Voprosy, in Trudy Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii, 1889, No. 3, and 1891, Nos. 6 and 8, where the author tries to prove that the "Solomon legend" had its origin in Hebrew-Talmudic literature;
  • A. Harkavy, in Yevreiskoe Obozryenie, 1884, i. 59;
  • in Yevrciskaya Biblioteka, vii. 143-153;
  • and in his supplements to Bilbassov's work; Chteniya Moskovskavo Obshchestva Istorii i Drevnostei Rossiskikh za, 1863, ii. 11, 47, 75 et seq.;
  • article Cyrillus und Methodius, in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyklopädie.
T. H. R.
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