Ways of Russian Theology

Download 1.17 Mb.
Size1.17 Mb.
1   ...   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   ...   34

Makarii Bulgakov (1816-1882), then a young hieromonk and baccalaureate at the Kiev Academy was more compliant. He was summoned to St. Petersburg in 1842 to teach theology, replacing Afanasii who declined to teach it and preferred to concentrate on teaching others. Makarii had not previously studied theology, and he felt more affinity for, and interest in, historical themes. He wrote his school thesis on the history of the Kiev Academy, and in doing so he must have even become acquainted with old course and conspectus manuscripts on theology from the time of Catholic influence. Most likely this was the source of his own personal sympathy for Roman Catholic handbooks and systems. At the academy Makarii listened to the lectures on dogmatics given by Dimitrii Muretov (1806- 1883), 241 twice subsequently archbishop of Kherson and Taurida. But he did not learn scholastic ways from Dimitrii. We can judge Dimitrii's theology lectures by only a few fragments recorded in student memoirs. Dimitrii attracted, and irresistibly attracted, the truly meek and humble heart. But this “feeling of the heart” never descended to a rhetorical or sticky sentimentalism. His feeling of the heart resided in the spiritual element and soul. In his lectures he tried to link theological problematics with their spiritual sources and religious, experience. One always detects the constant curiosity of his searching mind. Dimitrii's outlook must now be reconstructed from his sermons. He loved to deliver sermons, especially ones on dogmatic themes. He spoke very simply, yet he was able to express religious conceptions precisely in simple, almost naive, words and reveal an inward perspective even in prosaic details (for example, read his sermon on time and eternity given New Year's Day). By his dogmatic inquisitiveness, the power and exhaustiveness of his reasoning, his gift of plastic definition, Dimitrii reminds one most of all of Filaret of Moscow. Moreover, Dimitrii had a charming simplicity and wonderful humility. Khomiakov highly valued Dimitrii whom he knew personally when Dimitrii was bishop of Tula.

In a real sense Dimitrii should be included in the Alexandrine current in Russian Church life. He was educated in those books and under those impressions. He shared a common taste or even passion for philosophy with Innokentii. Even as a theologian Dimitrii remained a philosopher. He began with the data of Revelation and the testimony of the Word of God, but immediately proceeded to a speculative discovery of the meaning and power of dogma. He was not an historian, although he supported the historical method in the exposition of dogma. He was never a westerner — his creative independent mind and his mystical realism saved him from that.

Dimitrii had no direct influence on Makarii, for whom philosophical investigation of dogma held no interest. Makarii states that immediately after he arrived in St. Petersburg, Afanasii subjected his knowledge of theology to a strict examination, “especially where it touched on points of Orthodoxy.” He had to begin his lectures without any preparation two weeks after he arrived. And if that was not enough, he had to write them quickly “in order to turn them over to the printer” for publication. Obviously Makarii lectured according to Afanasii's program. Temporarily, while there was still no textbook, it was proposed that an assortment of extracts be used from the writings of St. Dimitrii of Rostov, arranged “by subject.” 242 A section entitled “On Holy Faith and the Church in general” was placed at the beginning. Afanasii was fully satisfied with these extracts. As Metropolitan Filaret observed, Afanasii found “that theology need not be taught systematically, for it was sufficient to read the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.” In 1844 Pratasov sent Filaret of Moscow the newly composed “surveys” [konspekty] on dogmatics at the St. Petersburg Academy for his examination and opinions. Filaret completely opposed the new arrangement of the various sections. He insisted that the best and most promising arrangement was provided or indicated by the Symbol of Faith. 243 (“The Ecumenical Symbol of Faith is nothing other than a brief system of theology.”) Filaret also emphasized that “it is the system of the ecumenical Fathers” and not a later subtlety of the western school. “This is the system of Apostolic Tradition.” “The arrangement of the Symbol is preserved even in the Orthodox Confession.” It is hardly possible to expound with complete conviction the teaching about Christ's Church before the doctrine of Christ as God is investigated. If it is either promising or prudent to put forward so willfully the “mind of the Russian Orthodox Church,” then must not some room for the “mind of the Roman Catholic Church” also be admitted? Filaret noted specific Latinizing innovations in the surveys sent to him (for example, the distinction between “form” and “matter” in the sacraments and other similar items).

In 1849 A Dogmatic Theology [Dogmaticheskoe bogoslovie] was published by Antonii Amfiteatrov (1815-1879), then archimandrite and rector of the Kiev Acaderny and later archbishop of Kazan'. This was a book in the old style. Antonii avoided philosophy and reasoning. He would have preferred to avoid every “free word.” He wished to retain words already used in Scripture and exactly defined by the Church. Here one detects the direct influence of Filaret of Kiev, “under whose guidance” and at whose desire this “Dogmatic” was composed. Antonii was Filaret's relative.

Antonii was certainly never a scholar. The appointment of a man of his temperament as rector at the academy after Dimitrii and Innokentii was significant. Yet Antonii was not a scholastic either: He was more a preacher and a moral preceptor than a schoolman. He tried to arouse and strengthen faith in the minds and hearts of his audience by summoning them to spiritual contemplation and moral introspection. Antonii did not approve of Makarii's dogmatic theology when it was published: “it was composed on the Lutheran model!” Antonii was awarded a doctor's degree for his textbook. Pratasov wrote to him enthusiastically, “you have done us a great service. You have removed from us the stigma that until now Russia has never had a system of theology.”

Meanwhile Makarii continued to lecture in St. Petersburg and publish his lectures chapter by chapter in Christian Reading. In 1847 his Introduction appeared as a separate book and in the following years he published the “system” in five volumes (1849-1853). Makarii's “Great Dogmatic” was subsequently republished many times. It was quickly translated into French and remained in use from that time onward. Impressions about the book are divided and were divided from the very outset. Without any doubt Makarii's dogmatic theology was significant, especially in historical perspective. Of course in gathering his material Makarii was not completely original, nor did he have to be independent. He could find a symphony of Biblical texts and a code of all the patristic citations he needed among western authors, particularly among the old Latin erudites. There was no need to research it all again. The important point is that for the first time such rich and strictly researched material was expounded in a commonly understood Russian style. From this standpoint Innokentii of Kherson's 244 enthusiastic appraisal for the Academy of Sciences of Makarii's newly published dogmatic theology is fully justifiable and understandable. The book “introduced theology into the realm of Russian literature.” Only one point in this appraisal is incomprehensible: how could Innokentii declare Makarii's book “an independent and original work?” He could not even appear to be independent and original. He consciously went no further than a simple compilation of texts. Actually he did not suspect that it was necessary to forge the texts and evidence into living dogmatic conceptions, into a spiritual life. In this respect, Makarii did not even resemble Afanasii. Afanasii knew that there are questions for theological searching. He was alive to their reality, but he was afraid to ask such questions either for himself or for others. This is the source of Afanasii's tragedy and failure in life. But in no way was Makarii tragic. He remained indifferent to theological problematics. He was simply unreceptive. In his personal tastes Makarii was a “secular” man, completey immune to the “spiritual life.” In the 1840's and 1850's he strengthened the Pratasov regime; in the 1870's he was a leader of the liberal reforms (see his famous proposal to reform the church courts in the Commission of 1873). 245 There was something bureaucratic in his writing style and exposition. His dogmatic theology lacked precisely a “sense of the Church.” He dealt with texts, not with evidence or truths. Hence he had such a lifeless and uninspired style which carried no conviction. There are only answers without questions, but they cannot answer what they are not asked. Some might see this as a virtue. In his memorial address, Makarii's disciple Nikanor of Kherson (1824-1890) 246 spoke accurately on this score. Even St. John of Damascus and Peter Mogila had personal views and motives. Both Filaret and Innokentii made ingenious and unrepeatable flights. But not Makarii. His was a straight clear path, “a balanced labor.” In other words, Makarii had no personal views. He was more objective than others, for he had no opinions of his own. His was an objectivity from indifference. Many were irritated by the inner indifference and soullessness in Makarii's books from the day they appeared. Khomiakov found Makarii's Introduction “admirably stupid.” Filaret Gumilevskii reacted the same way: “A nonsensical morass,” “there is neither logical order nor force in the arguments.” One might repeat about Makarii's theological books what Giliarov-Platonov 247 wrote about Makarii's History: 248 “a workman-like construction with the trappings of scholarly apparatus . . . . “ Giliarov-Platonov was emphatic. Makarii's History has all “the appearance of a history book, but it is not a history, only a book.” Similarly Makarii's Dogmatic Theology possesses all the appearances of a book of theology, but it is only a book. “Not a history and not even a book, but merely a construction” (Giliarov-Platonov).

Makarii studied in Kiev when theological and philosophical pathos was powerfully alive at the academy. Yet it passed him by without a trace. Nor can one detect in Makarii the “Pecherskii piety” so apparent in Filaret of Kiev and Antonii Amfiteatrov. Makarii most clearly approximated the style of the Pratasov era, because he was a bureaucratic theologian. His Dogmatic Theology is a typical product of the Nicholaitan epoch. Besides the “great” dogmatic, Makarii also composed a “small” one for use in the schools. As he later said, this book “was kept out of sight by the late sage of Moscow,” that is, by Metropolitan Filaret. Only after Filaret's death could this handbook be printed and introduced into the schools as a “textbook.” Filaret had silently condemned Makarii. Makarii's contemporary and successor as rector at the St. Petersburg Academy, Ioann Sokolov, 249 reviewed Makarii's book much more critically. “The scholarly books of the author, about which we are speaking, with their thousands of citations contribute like nothing else in these critical times to the final stupefaction and stagnation of the religious beggars in our schools, precisely because they aid the omission of any worthwhile thought, fresh insight, sense of evidence, and inward drive.” Makarii's book was outdated the day it first saw the light, and it remained unneeded and without a role to play in Russian theological consciousness, It could not satisfy those devoted to a spiritual life and raised in ascetic awareness or traditions. Makarii's theology was just as discordant with the Philokalia as it was with philosophy. Even Makarii's student and assistant at the St. Petersburg Academy, Nikanor Brovkovich, 250 could not lecture in the same style, and therefore was quickly removed from an academy position and became rector of the seminary at Riga. Makarii advised him to burn his lecture notes and outlines. Nikanor seemed dangerous for he was too greatly attracted by philosophy and in one section of his course he expounded in great detail “the proofs of God's existence.” This permitted him to present openly and minutely the modern “critical” theories, particularly those of Kant, although he aimed to attack and refute them. It seems that in his lectures Nikanor touched very daringly on the most “ticklish questions,” tore apart Strauss, Bruno Bauer, and Feuerbach. 251 However (and this was confirmed by Nikanor), Makarii had heard only of Kant. Nikanor's teaching style was very symptomatic. Temperamentally he was closer to Afanasii than to Makarii. He had a sarcastic and bilious character, which tortured him and others. All contradictions, he was a typical representative of a transitional epoch. Nikanor's designs were always conservative. In St. Petersburg in those years, when it was customary “to be frightened of Filaret,” he disliked and feared Filaret of Moscow. Nikanor regarded Pratasov as a benefactor to theological awakening and scholarship. It appears that he gave “a needed shove to theological construction” in the academies and saved theology from a meddlesome censorship. Nevertheless, Nikanor's theological views were very close to those of Filaret.

Nikanor was a man of philosophical temperament. For many years he labored on this three volume system of philosophy, Positive Theology and Supernatural Revelation [Polozhitel naia filosofiia i sverkhestestvennoe otkrovenie, St. Petersburg]. His system did not succeed, for it is only an eclectic compilation in the spirit of the most diffuse “Platonism.” But one detects a genuine intellectual inquisitiveness. It was no accident that Nikanor was preoccupied with apologetics (and with arguments against the positivists), for he required a speculative and critical “justification of faith: ' Nikanor had to pass through a difficult trial of doubt, through the darkness of wavering faith. Many things appeared differently in the judgment of “science” than from the standpoint of rigorist Orthodoxy. In the eyes of a person of such questions and weaknesses, the moribund bookishness of Makarii's dogmatics seemed needless and useless. Beneath a superficial similarity of formal method it is easy to discover deep differences between Nikanor and Makarii. The most scholastic of all Nikanor's books is his Survey of Roman Catholic teaching on the actual supremacy in the Church [Razbor rimskago ucheniia o vidimon glavenstve v tserkvi]. 252 It is an analysis of texts from the New Testament, patristic writings, and writings of historians of the first three centuries and is divided into sections, subsections, paragraphs, and individual points. Yet throughout the book the author's presence can be seen and felt shaping and pondering the arguments and citations. The reader's thoughts are caught up in the same vital process of proofs. Nikanor's exposition never descends to a mere recitation or becomes a lifeless “chain.” Of course this was a question of scholarly temperament. Nikanor's mind was sharp and decisive. Both his theology and his sermons were very daring. In this connection the series of sermons on the Holy Covenant (given at the end of the 1870's) is very interesting, and in them Nikanor is very much reminiscent of Filaret. The original Covenant was concluded from eternity in the bosom of the Tri-hypostatic Godhead and not without bloodshed (see Hebrews, Chapters IX and X). The blood of the eternal Covenant flowed from eternity, the cup of limitless anger was quaffed, the very cry of the Cross echoed in eternity. Everything was completed “for the eternal God was accomplished in eternity.” The events on earth are only a reflection. “In heaven and in eternity the actual creative redemptive and saving Covenant was accomplished.” Before all time the Immaculate Virgin had been elevated to God's heavenly temple. “Before all ages she stood as intercessor between the world, men, the incarnate Son of God, and the Godhead . . .”

Ioann Sokolov (1818-1860) must be discussed together with Nikanor. (Ioann died as bishop of Smolensk). Of a sternly moral nature and a sharp mind, he was “a remarkably well-educated but violent man.” In the era of the Great Reforms, 253 he spoke with unexpected courage and directness about Christian justice, the renewal of life, and daily social injustice. “So as not to keep an indifferent silence amidst those crying about life's social needs, in order that they might hear us,” he suggested to Shchapov the theme of his public address, The voice of the ancient Russian Church on improving the lives of unfree people [Golos drevnei russkoi tserkvi obulushchenii byta nesvobodnykh liudei]. 0 Ioann was a canonist above all else. His Essay for a course on Church jurisprudence [Opyt kursa tserkovnago zakonovedeniia,.2 volumes, 1851] remains his most important scholarly work. True, it is not a “system” of law, only a study of sources. Ioann simply never succeeded in constructing a “system.” It was said that the manuscript for the systematic volumes was detained in censorship. This does not diminish the importance of his book. For the first time the ancient and fundamental canons of the Church were presented in Russian more in historical than in doctrinal fashion Ioann continued to write on canonical themes, and later resumed his Essay in separate articles. Among these articles, his famous tract “On the monasticism of bishops” deserves special attention. 255 It was written at the request of the Over Procurator Akhmatov 256 in connection with discussions on a possible episcopate of lower clergy (only unmarried clergy, but without monastic vows). 257 This was Ioann's most personal writing. It was striking and forceful, but not very convincing. Filaret of Moscow found Ioann's research unfounded and far-fetched. Ioann overextended and overapplied his thesis to the relevant evidence. He speaks of “monasticism” in an almost metaphorical, nonformal sense. In his eyes any renunciation of the world is monasticism. The obligingness of such monasticism is not difficult to demonstrate, but not just for bishops, which Ioann failed to notice. But his own idea becomes much clearer when he says, “A bishop should be above the world, not only in `official' teaching, so to speak, but in personal thoughts.” One must deny the world not only with body and soul, but with the spirit and intellect as well. One must achieve spiritual and intellectual freedom, a spiritual virginity.

Ioann was a very daring teacher of theology. He used Makarii's text only for examinations and came to the lecture hall with this book in his hands. But his own lectures are completely unlike Makarii's, and were more like free flowing conversations with his audience. They were not calculated to communicate all the necessary information or knowledge, nor to be memorized, but merely to arouse minds and turn students toward study and reflection on the subject matter. As a professor, Ioann was almost an impressionist, and his sentiments were not always adequately restrained and precise. He was too unsparingly critical. He did not like “mysticism” and spoke sharply against external ceremony as important only for the half educated and undeveloped. Ioann's mind was too forceful and powerful. As one of his audience in Kazan' accurately defined his manner in his lectures, Ioann said all that “natural reason can say about subjects communicated to us by Revelation.” These were actually more like lectures in Christian philosophy than dogmatics as such. Ioann wished to use reason to attain Revelation; he did not proceed from it. Only a few of his lectures were published after his death and some of these were from student notes which he had examined. These lectures focus on fresh expression and freedom of thought and are presented with remarkable clarity and simplicity. Some people criticized him for being too taken up with novel and elegant constructions and not being really sincere. One perceives in Ioann's philosophical orientation the influence of his alma mater. He was from the Moscow Theological Academy.

The most influential teacher of dogmatics at that time was Filaret Gumilevskii (1805-1866). He was a man of outstanding gifts, a restless mind, and an anxious heart. Filaret very ably combined philosophical analysis and historical demonstration in his lectures on dogmatics. Rather than rely on the weight of authority to capture the mind in submissive obedience to faith, he tried to guide reason toward a suitable degree of internal evidence, in order to demonstrate how a mystery of Revelation, although it cannot be approached on the principles of reason, does not contradict its theoretical and practical needs. On the contrary, it aids them. “It heals any infirmity of reason caused by sin.” This constant effort to demonstrate dogma as a truth of reason was very characteristic of Filaret. At the same time dogma is demonstrated in history.

As a teacher Filaret produced a profound impression on his audience. He did so with an organic blending of intellectual curiosity and a faith of the heart. His own personal vitality always shined through and exemplified his theology. “Try it and see — such is the way to knowledge in the Christian religion.” He was referring to the sacraments and prayer. Theology was not just a vocation for Filaret, he needed it. It gave his lectures life. As the historian of the Moscow Academy said of him: “He began his teaching career with new approaches, including criticism of sources, philosophical considerations, history of dogma, and polemical refutations of opinions born in the rationalism of the Protestant west. These were new subjects for his audience.” A new era was beginning at the academy. Filaret was at once a Biblicist and Patrologist (in his lectures he reviewed at length the Messianic texts in Hebrew). Unfortunately, he was able to teach only for a short time. While still a very young man, he was called to serve as bishop. Later he resumed writing and published a good deal. On Filaret Gumilevskii's initiative the academy decided to publish the writings of the Holy Fathers in Russian translation. The Academic Conference focused on the task, and the journal of the academy was known simply as The supplement to the works of the Holy Fathers [Pribavienie k tvoreniiam sviatykh ottsev] Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and also Ephrem the Syrian, the great Fathers of the fourth century, 258 were given first place. Filaret's textbook on patristics Historical teaching on the Fathers of the Church [Istoricheskoe uchenie ob ottsakh tserkvi, 1859] was published only much later. Filaret always regarded the writings of the Fathers as the living testimony of the Church, but he cautioned against any unwarranted identification between “historical teaching about the Fathers” and teaching about Tradition. Otherwise all patristic opinions must either be accepted as worthy of being considered Church teaching (which would be impossible in view of their disagreements) or else the real facts about the Fathers must be distorted by jettisoning all those features of their lives and writings which make them appear “ordinary.” Such an act would mean complete arbitrariness in practice. “The Fathers of the Church upheld Tradition where necessary, just as they respectfully described the acts of the Church and private persons. They meditated on the Word of God, the articles of faith, and the rules of life; they argued and debated, philosophized, and labored as philologists, but in so doing they sometimes erred.”

These aims for patrology did not coincide with the purposes for which Pratasov introduced “historical-theological instruction on the Fathers of the Church” into the curricula of the seminaries and academies. Filaret did not just accidentally omit the word “theological” from the title of his book. “History must be undiluted. On that basis it might be possible to draw a theological conclusion and abstract the Tradition witnessed in the writings of the Fathers.” Therefore his book remained in the Synod. Moreover, Filaret also spoke very harshly about Peter Mogila and his Confession.

Pratasov's calculation to reverse or alter the direction of Russian theology proved incorrect. By that time Russian theological tradition was already too vital and strong. The Over Procurator's self-conceived and partisan plan crumbled beneath the weight of this inner opposition. This is clearly demonstrated by comparing that program and its implementation. Makarii's dogmatic theology was (to a certain degree) an official and officious program. But it was greeted with great hostility. Even when it was accepted as a textbook for its rich raw material, the author's own methods were rarely accepted. The “Makarii method” triumphed under Pobedonostsev 259 in the 1880's, when inertia was proclaimed a principle in life (a principle “which modern myopicwriters unthinkingly confuse with ignorance and stupidity”). However, even then the “victory” was only ephemeral. Pratasov might succeed in driving Filaret of Moscow from St. Petersburg and ostensibly remove him from Synodal affairs. All the same he was compelled to ask Filaret's opinion on every important and substantive question and send him for examination the majority of his projects and proposals. Filaret preserved sufficient influence, so that by his disagreements the Over Procurator's more meddlesome undertakings were laid to rest. Pratasov did introduce his new order and spirit into the St. Petersburg Academy. The Moscow Academy remained unaltered and without those changes for the new which consumed Pratasov. Philosophy continued its former course as did the study of Scripture and Hebrew. And at the very time when the inquisition was being conducted throughout Russia over the lithograph of Pavskii's translation, Filaret officially proposed to the Moscow Academic Conference that with the approval of the Conference and the knowledge of the diocesan hierarch all instructors be required to present in polished form at least some of their lessons to be lithographed or printed for use in the academy. The proposal had no practical results. Yet it was indicative that at the very moment when the newly opened Ecclesiastical-Educational Administration was attempting to call a halt to the independent work of teachers by placing required “textbooks” in their hands, Filaret continued to adhere to the spirit of the Alexandrine statutes that it was far more necessary to awaken thought and self-motivation in the students than to bind them with previously prepared formulae and phrases.

In 1845 Filaret once more raised the question of translating the Bible and gave the Holy Synod his famous note On the dogmatic merit and conservative function of the Greek Septuagint commentators and the Slavonic translation of Holy Scripture. 260 The note was composed very succinctly and deliberately. Filaret of Kiev, Grigorii Postnikov, and Gavriil Gorodkovyi, then archbishop of Riazan' 261 preliminarily examined it. Filaret wished to prevent the misuse of various Biblical texts. First of all he insisted that it was essential to use both the Septuagint and the Slavonic translation in correlation for the Old Testament. One should not be accepted as “self authentic,” that is, original, and used in isolation, although the Septuagint should be the starting point. Both texts deserved to be accorded “dogmatic merit.” Filaret proposed that a new edition of the Slavonic Bible be issued more suited to personal use and including a statement about the content of each chapter and explanatory notes. Filaret said less than he wished in his “note” in order to obtain the agreement of his friends, particularly Filaret of Kiev. They were opposed to the Russian translation and were reserved toward the Hebrew text. One could hardly expect Filaret of Kiev would be convinced. It was better to achieve a minimum firmly acceptable to all. In the 1860's the heated quarrel over Biblical texts again burst into flame — a belated epilogue to the debates of the 1840's. When the translation of the Old Testament was renewed in Alexander II's reign, Filaret's note was accepted as the guideline.

Pratasov's captivity of Russian theology did not last long, although it was enervating. He could celebrate victory solely in the sphere of Church-state relations. The new central administrative structure expanded and consolidated the Empire's influence and direct powers in the affairs and life of the Church.


It is far from easy to give a general characterization of the ecclesiastical schools during the reigns of Alexander I and Nicholas I. The “pre-Reform” school has been described and redescribed in the harshest and somberist terms. The expose writers Pomialovskii, Rostislavov, and Nikitin all wrote about it. 262 The appraisal of such an incontestable “conservative” as V.I. Askochenskii 263 tallies exactly with their testimony. Askochenskii was also a “secular” judge. The rudeness of the “lowl bursak” confounded him, and he describes seminarians with aversion and cruelty as “crude cattle.” Askochenskii's views hardly differed from those of Rostislavov. “A murderous character, a stunted mind, an empty heart, a preference for dire prophecies: these are the inheritance of youths who are entrapped in this inquisition of thought or any pure unfeigned feeling.” Such was Askochenskii's cheerless conclusion. One must admit that there is a good deal of truth in such charges and condemnations. There were many serious defects. Moral coarseness was chief among them. It should be remembered that in those days the ecclesiastical schools were left in great poverty, disorder, and material insecurity. Even the professors at the academies lived in extremely tight circumstances and poverty. The percentage of graduates fell to nearly half. One frequently encounters remarkable entries in the class journals about absences “because running away was noted” or “for not possessing clothes.” The Statute's high standards were often totally unfulfilled. After all, the statute required that not just memory, but understanding, be developed in the students. However, rote memorization remained the norm. Formalism, rhetorics, convention prevailed.

In the final analysis, such undoubted defects did not sap the creative vigor of those generations. The positive historical and cultural significance of the “pre-Reform” schools must be acknowledged and highly valued. For this school network served as the social basis for the entire development and expansion of Russian culture in the nineteenth century. Not until the 1840's did the secular schools very slowly gain strength. The Kazan' gymnasium and even the Kazan' University (as S.T. Aksakov 264 described them) were far behind the seminaries, not to mention the reformed academies. For decades in diverse fields the “seminarist” remained the sole engineer of the Russian enlightenment. In a fundamental sense, the history of Russian science and learning were tied to the ecclesiastical schools and the clerical class. An examination of the lists of Russian professors for any specialization reveals two categories: “seminarist” and “foreigner” (usually of German or Swedish origin; more rarely, Polish) along with an infrequent representative of the nobility or bureaucrat. Until only very recently the clear echoes and traces of this clerical education could be discerned in Russia's academic and literary psychology. It was a source of both strength and weakness — of creative curiosity and of careless maximalism. In this regard, the first half of the century was a decisive epoch. The generations educated at that time were the actors at midcentury and later, during those anxious decades of the “emancipation” and “impoverishment,” when (with the arrival of the so-called raznochinets) 265 the social basis of the Russian enlightenment began to expand rapidly. Actually, the raznochinets, or one of “mixed rank,” was usually a seminarist.

The first half of the century was also decisive in the history of both Russian theology and Russian philosophy. The abundant creative energy is simply staggering: a series of forceful and prominent personalities; a reverberating throng surrounding a leader; students and followers rallying behind a teacher. Such is normally the case in an era of significant themes. The question of Russian theology's existence was decided then, and it was answered with a creative “yes.” We can trace the victories step by step. Unquestionably one outcome of this period of quarreling and brawling over the Bible was a more responsible attitude toward the Holy Scripture. A solid foundation for Russian Biblical scholarship and Biblical theology was laid precisely during this time. This was not a matter of simple erudition or merely of concern to a few. The Statute of 1814 required that all students read Scripture. Characteristically, the very aim of the ecclesiastical school was left deliberately vague: “the education of pious and enlightened servants of the Word of God.” Special hours set aside for reading Scriptures were divided into reading “at a normal speed” and “deliberate” reading accompanied by explanations, so that “the chief passages for theological truth” (the so-called sedes doctrinae) could be noted and analyzed. Hermeneutics — theologia hermeneutica — was the foundation stone of all theology. Moreover, the students were expected to read the Bible “on their own.” Such reading was linked with, and great attention given to, Biblical languages, not just Greek, but Hebrew. True, during the “return to the time of scholasticism,” the study of Hebrew fell under suspicion. Was not this language of apostate Jews now a weapon of heresy and neology? Even Holy Scripture was read less frequently. Elementary instruction in catechisms suffered most, for one feared to read the Gospels to children. Nonetheless, a durable Biblical foundation was laid. The first positive outcome of this transitional period was a vital sense of Divine Revelation, or to put it another way, an intuitive sense of sacred history.

A second outcome was no less important. Contemporary theological tradition organically linked a philosophical perspective and the testimony of Revelation, that is, “philosophy” and “theology” were combined. This will be discussed in detail later.

Pratasov's “reform” actually strengthened the third outcome: the awakening of the historical sense — one of the most characteristic and distinctive traits of Russia's development in the nineteenth century. In part it was still the historicism of the eighteenth century, a sentimental survival of a bygone era, with its archeological curiosity about the past, its sense of ruin and desolation. Yet, the Statute of 1814 laid special stress on “that which is called philosophy of history,” in order to arouse a dynamic response to life. Modern German philosophy greatly spurred it on. A religious interest in the past — a sense of Tradition — was awakened.

For all its shortcomings and infirmities, the ecclesiastical school was classical and humanitarian. It was the sole link uniting Russian culture and scholarship with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It also provided a solid knowledge of classical languages (and to a lesser degree Hebrew). Greek met a sad fate in the public school. In 1826 it was deemed a superfluous luxury, although it remained in the program. In 1851 it was completely eliminated in all gymnasia except those in university towns, in cities with Greek settlements, and in the Dorpat school district. The hours for studying natural science had to be found somewhere. A great quarrel over Greek arose between Prince Shirinskii-Shikhmatov, 266 the Minister of Education, and the Assistant Minister, A.S. Norov, 267 although they shared a common clerical spirit. The minister feared that youths would slip their Christian moorings if they read pagan authors. Norov, however, was convinced that Greek “directs youths” minds to the exalted and the sublime,” deflects them from reading harmful and useless books, and is the primary language of the Orthodox Eastern Church. In any case, the Fathers, from Clement of Rome to Chrysostom, were added to the curriculum. In 1871 Greek was revived in the gymnasia with greatly expanded hours of instruction. An explanatory note laid great stress on the fact that knowledge of Greek makes it possible to read the Gospels, the Fathers, and the liturgical canons in their original language, “which makes our school learning precious to the people.” In reality, grammar was taught and the authors read were largely non-Christian.

One final outcome remains to be noted. Publication of theological books rapidly increased. Theology journals flourished; numerous individual works appeared, and not just textbooks and collections of sermons and addresses. The best productions of the schools, that is, master's dissertations. were normally published. One should remember that in general the schools, particularly the ecclesiastical schools, devoted special attention to the students' writing and literary style. The academies particularly tried to develop a writer's' gift and skill. Translation, for the most part in classical languages, but also in modern ones, was also drilled into the students. Thus, the ecclesiastical schools passed Russian thought through a philological and literary training, thereby facilitating the rapid growth of scholarly, theological journalism in the next period. In general by the 1860's, the Russian theologian was on the same level with his western counterpart. The entire journey was made in the first half of the century.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   ...   34

The database is protected by copyright ©dentisty.org 2019
send message

    Main page