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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Alexander Schmemann

6. Russian Orthodoxy (41 pages)

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From Schmemann's A History of the Orthodox Church

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Russian Orthodoxy has too frequently been contrasted with another Orthodoxy — Greek or Oriental, while Russian messianism has sometimes simply equated Orthodoxy with Russia, oblivious to its Byzantine origins and the “sleeping East.” The late S.L. Frank recently called this national self-infatuation “the chronic disease of the Russian mind.”[45] But it would be ridiculous, because of these extremes, the result of ideological disputes, to go to the opposite extreme and simply deny the incomparable significance of Russia for the historical course of Orthodoxy in its earthly forms and wanderings. Here, of course, one can only attempt a brief indication, a mere enumeration of the basic landmarks of what must be called Russian Orthodoxy, despite the ambiguity of the phrase.

Even so modest an attempt immediately runs up against almost insuperable difficulties. The evaluation of Russia’s historical development has long been a subject of disputes which even today are not resolved. Whichever of the three basic stages in the dialectic of Russian history one may turn to — the Kievan, Muscovite, or Petersburg period — there are current at least two contradictory and mutually exclusive evaluations of each, arrived at on the basis of scientific historical analysis.
Yet the history of the Russian Church cannot be separated from the history of Russia, as it cannot be separated from its Byzantine origins. Just as Orthodoxy is one of the major factors in Russian history, so the destiny of Russia defined the fate of Russian Orthodoxy. Even the simplest delineation of the development of the Church inevitably includes a definite attitude toward Russia’s past. No complete history of Russian religion yet exists, since no real history of the Russian Church has yet been written. Too much is still simply unknown, unstudied. Some basic questions have only recently been posed. Finally, the agonizing problem of the Church in Russia today and the importance of Russia itself in the destiny of the world makes the whole subject infinitely complex. With the advent of Bolshevism not only was one period in Russian Church history finished, but a whole era in the life of Orthodoxy itself came to an end. In this light, the Russian chapter in the history of Orthodoxy inevitably takes on a universal significance.

 

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/schmemann-orthodoxy-6-russian-orthodoxy.asp