Hellmuth Weiss finds the Wanradt-Koell's catechism

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1929

In the winter of 1929, the librarian of The Estonian Literary Society (Estländische Literärische Gesellschaft) and an outstanding Baltic German historian Hellmuth Weiss found a 22-page book fragment. Half of the fragment was written in Estonian. Luckily, the date and location of the print had survived, thus it became apparent that this is the oldest text in Estonian that has survived, a fragment of Wanradt-Koell's catechism from 1535. The fragment includes the second and the third confession, Lord's Prayer and the first, second, third, fifth and sixth commandment, and talks about the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament the altar. In the end of the text is a note about the linguistic differences of Tartu, Narva, Viljandi and Tallinn dialects.

Thanks to Weiss's discovery, the 400 anniversary of the Estonian language could be celebrated in 1935. Later it was discovered, that the earliest known Estonian print originates from 1525, unfortunately it has not survived.

 


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