"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).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Russian Orthodox Just War Theories

It has long been alleged, with some justice, that the Orthodox tradition has not developed its own social teaching to the same extent that the Catholic West has; this includes questions of just war. Some within the East--e.g., Alexander Webster--have said that the Eastern tradition is, or should be understood as, pacifist, though Webster himself, more recently, has recognized that the East is not unequivocal on this question.

A forthcoming historical study will shed more light on how the largest Orthodox Church, the Russian, has developed its own understanding of war.

This summer, Bloomsbury Academic will release Betsy Perabo, Russian Orthodoxy and the Russo-Japanese War (2017), 240pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
How should Christians think about the relationship between the exercise of military power and the spread of Christianity? In Russian Orthodoxy and the Russo-Japanese War, Betsy Perabo looks at the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 through the unique concept of an 'interreligious war' between Christian and Buddhist nations, focusing on the figure of Nikolai of Japan, the Russian leader of the Orthodox Church in Japan.
Drawing extensively on Nikolai's writings alongside other Russian-language sources, the book provides a window into the diverse Orthodox Christian perspectives on the Russo-Japanese War – from the officials who saw the war as a crusade for Christian domination of Asia to Nikolai, who remained with his congregation in Tokyo during the war. Writings by Russian soldiers, field chaplains, military psychologists, and leaders in the missionary community contribute to a rich portrait of a Christian nation at war.
By grounding its discussion of 'interreligious war' in the historical example of the Russo-Japanese War, and by looking at the war using the sympathetic and compelling figure of Nikolai of Japan, this book provides a unique perspective which will be of value to students and scholars of both Russian history, the history of war and religion and religious ethics.

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