Elements of Christian Teaching, or a Short Sacred History and a Short Christian Catechism


Ioann Veniaminov (1797-1879) was a Russian Orthodox priest who in 1823 volunteered to go to Alaska as a missionary. Settling with his wife and family in Unalaska, he built a church and school and began his lifelong task of studying the native languages of the region. With the help of the Aleut chief Ivan Pan'kov, Veniaminov invented an alphabet for the Unangan (Aleut) language which he used to translate religious and educational material from Russian. This book, from the collections of the National Library of Russia, was first translated by Veniaminov in 1827. Veniaminov made corrections to the work in 1837. The Creole priest Iakov Netsvetov assisted in this effort, in part by adding explanations to make the work understandable to the inhabitants of Atka Island, who spoke their own Unangan dialect. Netsvetov was a protégé of Veniaminov who went on to train other native and Creole priests, such as Innokentii Shaiashnikov and Lavrentii Salamatov, who continued their religious and linguistic work even after the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867.

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Subject Date

Publication Information

Synodal Press, Saint Petersburg

Title in Original Language

Nachatki khristianskogo ucheniia, ili Kratkaia sviashchennaia istoriia i Kratkii khristianskii katekhizis

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Physical Description

179 pages

Last updated: April 12, 2016