During Russia's late imperial period, Orthodox churchmen, professionally trained theologians, and an array of social commentators sought to give meaning to Russian history and its supposed backwardness. Many found that meaning in asceticism. For some, ascetic religiosity prevented Russia from achieving its historical destiny. For others, it was the means by which the Russian people would realize the kingdom of God, thereby saving Holy Russia and the world from the satanic forces of the West.
Patrick Lally Michelson's intellectual history of asceticism in Russian Orthodox thought traces the development of these competing arguments from the early nineteenth century to the early months of World War I. He demonstrates that this discourse was an imaginative interpretation of lived Orthodoxy, primarily meant to satisfy the ideological needs of Russian thinkers and Orthodox intellectuals as they responded to the socioeconomic, political, and cultural challenges of modernity.
Created in the tenth century, most likely as an imperial commission, the Menologion is a collection of rewritings of saints’ lives originally intended to be read at services for Christian feast days. Yet Symeon Metaphrastes’s stories also abound in transgression and violence, punishment and redemption, love and miracles. They resemble Greek novels of the first centuries of the Common Era, highlighting intense emotions and focusing on desire, both sacred and profane.
Symeon Metaphrastes was celebrated for rescuing martyrdom accounts and saints’ biographies that otherwise may have been lost. His Menologion, among the most important Byzantine works, represents the culmination of a well-established tradition of Greek Christian storytelling. A landmark of Byzantine religious and literary culture, the Menologion was revered for centuries—copied in hundreds of manuscripts, recited publicly, and adapted into other medieval languages. This edition presents the first English translation of six Christian novels excerpted from Symeon’s text, all of them featuring women who defy social expectations.
The line that separated Eastern Christendom from Western on the medieval map is similar to the "iron curtain" of recent times. Linguistic barriers, political divisions, and liturgical differences combined to isolate the two cultures from each other. Except for such episodes as the schism between East and West or the Crusades, the development of non-Western Christendom has been largely ignored by church historians. In The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, Jaroslav Pelikan explains the divisions between Eastern and Western Christendom, and identifies and describes the development of the distinctive forms taken by Christian doctrine in its Greek, Syriac, and early Slavic expression.
"It is a pleasure to salute this masterpiece of exposition. . . . The book flows like a great river, slipping easily past landscapes of the utmost diversity—the great Christological controversies of the seventh century, the debate on icons in the eighth and ninth, attitudes to Jews, to Muslims, to the dualistic heresies of the high Middle Ages, to the post-Reformation churches of Western Europe. . . . His book succeeds in being a study of the Eastern Christian religion as a whole."—Peter Brown and Sabine MacCormack, New York Review of Books
"The second volume of Professor Pelikan's monumental work on The Christian Tradition is the most comprehensive historical treatment of Eastern Christian thought from 600 to 1700, written in recent years. . . . Pelikan's reinterpretation is a major scholarly and ecumenical event."—John Meyendorff
"Displays the same mastery of ancient and modern theological literature, the same penetrating analytical clarity and balanced presentation of conflicting contentions, that made its predecessor such an intellectual treat."—Virgina Quarterly Review
In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow’s control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a global power. As Matthew Romaniello shows, however, learning to manage the conquered lands and peoples would take decades.
Russia did not succeed in empire-building because of its strength, leadership, or even the weakness of its neighbors, Romaniello contends; it succeeded by managing its failures. Faced with the difficulty of assimilating culturally and religiously alien peoples across thousands of miles, the Russian state was forced to compromise in ways that, for a time, permitted local elites of diverse backgrounds to share in governance and to preserve a measure of autonomy. Conscious manipulation of political and religious language proved more vital than sheer military might. For early modern Russia, empire was still elusive—an aspiration to political, economic, and military control challenged by continuing resistance, mismanagement, and tenuous influence over vast expanses of territory.
Epiphanius of Cyprus offers the first complete biography in English of Epiphanius, lead bishop of Cyprus in the late fourth century CE and author of the Panarion, a massive encyclopedia of heresies. Imagining himself a defender of orthodoxy, he became an active heresy-hunter, involving himself in the most significant theological and ecclesiastical debates of his day.
Young Richard Kim studies the bishop as a historical person and a self-constructed persona, as mediated within the pages of the Panarion. Kim’s “micro-readings” of the Panarion present a close look at autobiographical anecdotes, situated in historical contexts, that profoundly shaped both Epiphanius’ character and how he wanted his readers to perceive him. “Macro-readings” examine portions of the Panarion that reflected how Epiphanius imagined his world, characterized by an orthodoxy that had existed since Creation and was preserved through the generations. In the final chapter, Kim considers Epiphanius’ life after the publication of the Panarion and how he spent years “living” the pages of his heresiology.
Kim brings a more balanced perspective to a controversial figure, recognizing shortcomings but also understanding them in light of Epiphanius’ own world. The bishop appears not as a buffoon, but as someone who knew how to use the power of the rhetoric of orthodoxy to augment his own authority. Quintessentially late antique, he embodied the contentious transition from the classical past to the medieval and Byzantine worlds.
This book will be of broad interest to students and scholars of ancient history, classics, and religious studies.
This book sets out to answer the question of why Eastern Church writers showed no interest in analytical reasoning - the so-called "intellectual silence" of Rus' culture - while Western Church writers, by the time of the Scholastics, routinely incorporated analytical reasoning into their defences of the faith.Donald Ostrowski suggests that Western, post-Enlightenment- trained, analytical scholars often miss the point, not because of an inability to comprehend cultural ideas which seem abstract and ineffable, but because the agenda is different.
Icon and Devotion offers the first extensive presentation in English of the making and meaning of Russian icons. The craft of icon-making is set into the context of forms of worship that emerged in the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-seventeenth century. Oleg Tarasov shows how icons have held a special place in Russian consciousness because they represented idealized images of Holy Russia. He also looks closely at how and why icons were made. Wonder-working saints and the leaders of such religious schisms as the Old Believers appear in these pages, which are illustrated with miniature paintings, lithographs and engravings never before published in the English-speaking world.
By tracing the artistic vocabulary, techniques and working methods of icon painters, Tarasov shows how icons have been integral to the history of Russian art, influenced by folk and mainstream currents alike. As well as articulating the specifically Russian piety they invoke, he analyzes the significance of icons in the cultural life of modern Russia in the context of popular prints and poster design.
Under the broad umbrella of the Christian religion, there exists a great divide between two fundamentally different ways of thinking about key aspects of the Christian faith. Eugene Webb explores the sources of that divide, looking at how the Eastern and Western Christian worlds drifted apart due both to the different ways they interpreted their symbols and to the different roles political power played in their histories. Previous studies have focused on historical events or on the history of theological ideas. In Search of the Triune God delves deeper by exploring how the Christian East and the Christian West have conceived the relation between symbol and experience.
Webb demonstrates that whereas for Western Christianity discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity has tended toward speculation about the internal structure of the Godhead, in the Eastern tradition the symbolism of the Triune God has always been closely connected to religious experience. In their approaches to theology, Western Christianity has tended toward a speculative theology, and Eastern Christianity toward a mystical theology.
This difference of focus has led to a large range of fundamental differences in many areas not only of theology but also of religious life. Webb traces the history of the pertinent symbols (God as Father, Son of God, Spirit of God, Messiah, King, etc.) from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament through patristic thinkers and the councils that eventually defined orthodoxy. In addition, he shows how the symbols, interpreted through the different cultural lenses of the East and the West, gradually took on meanings that became the material of very different worldviews, especially as the respective histories of the Eastern and Western Christian worlds led them into different kinds of entanglement with ambition and power.
Through this incisive exploration, Webb offers a dramatic and provocative new picture of the history of Christianity.
This is the vivid and partisan account of two tremendous ecclesiastical struggles of the ninth century. One was between opposing patriarchs of Constantinople—the learned Photius (858–867, 877–886) and the monk Ignatius (847–858, 867–877)—and gave rise to long periods of schism, intrigue, and scandal in the Greek Orthodox world. The other was between Patriarch Photius and the papacy, which at its low point saw Photius and Nicholas I trade formal condemnations of each other and adversely affected East-West relations for generations afterwards. The author of The Life of Patriarch Ignatius, Nicetas David Paphlagon, was a prolific and versatile writer, but also a fierce conservative in ecclesiastical politics, whose passion and venom show through on every page. As much a frontal attack on Photius as a record of the author’s hero Ignatius, The Life of Patriarch Ignatius offers a fascinating, if biased, look into the complex world of the interplay between competing church factions, the imperial powers, and the papacy in the ninth century. This important historical document is here critically edited and translated into English for the first time. The annotations, maps, and indexes help the reader to place the work in context.
Today the Byzantine mystic, writer, and monastic leader Symeon the New Theologian (ca. 949 to 1022 ce) is considered a saint by the Orthodox Church and revered as one of its most influential spiritual thinkers. But in his own time a cloud of controversy surrounded him and the suspicion of heresy tainted his reputation long afterward.
The Life was written more than thirty years after Symeon’s death by his disciple and apologist the theologian Niketas Stethatos, who also edited all of Symeon’s spiritual writings. An unusually valuable piece of Byzantine hagiography, it not only presents compelling descriptions of Symeon’s visions, mystical inspiration, and role as a monastic founder, but also provides vivid glimpses into the often bitter and unpleasantly conflicted politics of monasticism and the construction of sanctity and orthodoxy at the zenith of the medieval Byzantine Empire. Although the many volumes of Symeon’s spiritual writings are now readily available in English, the present translation makes the Life accessible to English readers for the first time. It is based on an authoritative edition of the Greek.
Russian Religious Thought
Edited by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt and Richard F. Gustafson University of Wisconsin Press, 1996 Library of Congress BR932.R87 1996 | Dewey Decimal 274.708
As Russia entered the modern age in the nineteenth century, many Russian intellectuals combined the study of European philosophy with a return to their own traditions, culminating in the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and in the religious philosophy of their younger contemporary, Vladimir Soloviev. This book explores central issues of modern Russian religious thought by focusing on the work of Soloviev and three religious philosophers who further developed his ideas in the early twentieth century: P. A. Florensky, Sergei Bulgakov, and S. L. Frank. The essays place these thinkers in the contexts of both Western philosophy and Eastern Orthodoxy, presenting a substantially new perspective on Russian religious thought.
The work of these four philosophers, this volume demonstrates, influenced virtually all aspects of twentieth-century Russian culture, and indeed, many aspects of Soviet culture as well, but also represents a rich philosophical tradition devoted to issues of divinity, community, and humanity that transcend national boundaries and historical eras.
Included in Russian Religious Thought is an introduction, brief biographical information on Soloviev, Florensky, Bulgakov, and Frank, and an Afterword by scholar James Scanlan, who elaborates on the volume’s aim to provide a thoughtful corrective, both to unexamined assumptions of past scholarship and to nationalist readings currently popular in post-Soviet Russia.
"Russian religious philosophy, banned under the Soviets, has been marginalized in the Western academy as well. This interdisciplinary volume helps explain why this body of thought has remained for so long at the center of Russian culture."—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University
The late Russian Empire experienced rapid economic change, social dislocation, and multiple humanitarian crises, enduring two wars, two famines, and three revolutions. A “pastoral activism” took hold as parish clergymen led and organized the response of Russia’s Orthodox Christians to these traumatic events. In Russia’s Social Gospel, Daniel Scarborough considers the roles played by pastors in the closing decades of the failing tsarist empire and the explosive 1917 revolutions.
This volume draws upon extensive archival research to examine the effects of the pastoral movement on Russian society and the Orthodox Church. Scarborough argues that the social work of parish clergymen shifted the focus of Orthodox practice in Russia toward cooperative social activism as a devotional activity. He furthers our understanding of Russian Orthodoxy by illuminating the difficult position of parish priests, who were charged with both spiritual and secular responsibilities but were supported by neither church nor state. His nuanced look at the pastorate shows how social and historical traumas shifted perceptions of what being religious meant, in turn affecting how the Orthodox Church organized itself, and contributed to Russia’s modernization.
The Sacred Image East and West
Edited by Robert Ousterhout and Leslie Brubaker University of Illinois Press, 1995 Library of Congress BX380.5.S23 1995 | Dewey Decimal 246.5309
A new generation of American medieval art historians explores how sacred images were perceived during the Middle Ages in Byzantium and Europe. The essays cover a full range of images, including panel paintings, altarpieces, manuscripts, and wall paintings, and a rich variety of socioreligious settings, private, monastic, and imperial. Also examined are the differences between images produced for a single viewer and those produced for communities; images produced for private contemplation or devotion and those functioned within a liturgical setting; and the varying ways in which sacred images affected women and men, religious and secular communities, rulers and ruled.
A Service of Love
Paul McPartlan Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress BX1805.M398 2016 | Dewey Decimal 280.2
"Msgr Paul McPartlan's book constitutes a significant contribution to the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. It combines valuable historical information with deep theological insights by presenting the development of papal primacy in the two millennia of Church history in close connection with collegiality and the Eucharist. A scholarly work with particular importance for the discussion of one of the most crucial issues in ecclesiology and ecumenism. It is warmly recommended for study by all those interested in the promotion of Christian unity." -Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon
A Service of Love
Paul McPartlan Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BX1805.M398 2013 | Dewey Decimal 280.2
In this short and penetrating study, Paul McPartlan, a member of the international Roman Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue, presents a proposal, carefully argued both historically and theologically, for a primacy exercising a service of love in a reconciled church, West and East.