"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thinking Orthodox in Modern Russia

Given the explosion in scholarship, over the last quarter-century especially, on Russian Christianity, it is becoming increasingly untenable to portray Russian society as entirely backwards and filled with nothing but unlettered peasants let by superstitious monks and clerics until the dawn of the twentieth century. Moreover, even more recent scholarship is helping us to appreciate how intellectual, theological, and religious life continued even under the Soviets in various guises--that it was not all violently stamped out, though much was, and not for want of trying on the part of the regime. A new book helps us to appreciate this intellectual and theological life at the end of the nineteenth and into the early twentieth centuries: Patrick Lally Michelson and Judith Deutsch Kornblatt, eds., Thinking Orthodox in Modern Russia: Culture, History, Context (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014, 316pp.).

About this book we are told:
Thinking Orthodox in Modern Russia illuminates the significant role of Russian Orthodox thought in shaping the discourse of educated society during the imperial and early Soviet periods. Bringing together an array of scholars, this book demonstrates that Orthodox reflections on spiritual, philosophical, and aesthetic issues of the day informed much of Russia’s intellectual and cultural climate.
            Volume editors Patrick Lally Michelson and Judith Deutsch Kornblatt provide a historical overview of Russian Orthodox thought and a critical essay on the current state of scholarship about religious thought in modern Russia. The contributors explore a wide range of topics, including Orthodox claims to a unique religious Enlightenment, contests over authority within the Russian Church, tensions between faith and reason in academic Orthodoxy, the relationship between sacraments and the self, the religious foundations of philosophical and legal categories, and the effect of Orthodox categories in the formation of Russian literature.

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