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I'd like to read a bible in Russian, and found out that there are many versions of it.

I see that the most orthodox and traditional version is Synodal bible, but I've seen other versions as well like New Russian Translation.

I wonder how much Synodal bible text is different from current spoken Russian. Would it be adequate and helpful for a Russian learner to try reading it?

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It's not the best source to learn modern Russian in that sense that for obvious reasons one won't find any useful, relevant and colloquial phrases in Bible. This, however, actually holds true about the New Russian Translation.

As of how comprehensible is Synodal Bible - it's actually very understandable and native speaker won't find it too difficult to understand. But, once again, keep in mind - comprehensible and modern are two different thing. The lexicon is still archaic. Nobody says "нарёк" now but rather "назвал", instead of "убоялся" you'll encounter rather "испугался", nobody says "вчера был в клубе, и познал одну горячую девицу" etc.

So if somebody will thoroughly and systematically treat Synodal Bible as one and only source of learning Russian it won't be a tragedy however I'd rather recommend not to do it.

By the way, to my knowledge, the main goal of New Translation Bible was to make it more precise - Synodal Bible is criticized by many in that aspect - rather than to use more modern language. The question whether this goal was achieved is out of scope of this Stack and one can ask at Christianity SE.

You can compare both translations by yourself: here's the New one, here's the Synodal one.

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  • Exactly the answer I was looking for. Guess I'll just use it as an auxiliary text! Спасибо – Jihyung Kang Jan 12 at 3:02
  • ***it won't be a tragedy - it'll be a waste of time. Whether a waste of time is a tragedy or not - is surely an open question. ;) – Serg Z. Jan 25 at 4:46
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If you want to visit some sermons in Russian churches (regardless of denominations) and understand what those guys talk about, it'll help.

Otherwise - no. The text is 150 years old. You'll increase your vocabulary of course, but it'll be a very specific kind of vocabulary.

I'd say it can be interesting if you are on a pretty advanced level of Russian. But not if you are a beginner or even an intermediate learner. A modern translation can be surely better, as some additional reading, like any reading that you do, learning a foreign language. So it won't really hurt if you read some parts, but surely it won't have much to do with an everyday Russian language.

Same way if I study English and read something from King James Bible. ;)

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  • I humbly disagree in that sense that King James Version is 200 years older and language of Synodal Bible is closer to what we speak now. Upvoting though as a valid and valuable answer. – shabunc Jan 27 at 9:27
  • @shabunc I know that, but its usefulness for everyday modern talk at the airport or restaurant is about the same. ;) – Serg Z. Jan 28 at 10:15

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