Научная статья на тему 'West versus East and the Consequences for Russian Christianity'

West versus East and the Consequences for Russian Christianity Текст научной статьи по специальности «История и археология»


Аннотация научной статьи по истории и археологии, автор научной работы — Vitalij Ivanovitch Petrenko

The author considers the historical relationship between East and West on the basis of the development of understanding of ecclesiastical authority in the Roman Catholic Church with its center in Rome, and in the Eastern church with its center in Constantinople. The main attention in this paper will be devoted to the development of the papacy in the West, its conflicts with the ecclesiastical and imperial structures of the East, the relationship between the two churches and the consequences of this struggle for Russian Christianity. The author draws some historical implications from this analysis for Russian evangelicals in order to call their attention to their own sense of “belonging” in the context of wider, historical Christianity.

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Текст научной работы на тему «West versus East and the Consequences for Russian Christianity»

West: versus East

and the Consequences for Russian Christianity

© V. Petrenko, 2006

Vitalij PETRENKO, Durham, Great Britain

Vitalij Ivanovitch Petrenko, was born in 1965. He entered London School of Theology in 1992 and graduated with a B.A. and M.Th. in 1996 and received a Ph.D. from Durham University in 2005. He has been a member of a Baptist church in Riga, Latvia since 1982, where he has been involved in youth ministry, evangelism, and missionary work. Upon completion of his Ph.D. he returned to Latvia. He is the author of Theology of Icons: A Protestant Perspective, published by Bibliia dlia vsekh, St. Petersburg.

Preliminary remarks

My experience of growing up in the USSR, living through the period of perestroika and glasnost' and belonging to a Protestant (Eastern) evangelical Christianity, and my subsequent theological studies in the West brought me face to face with the question: Who am I? My numerous encounters with Western (Protestant) Christians in the Soviet Union and abroad during the late 80s and early 90s highlighted similarities and dissimilarities between them and us; the self-awareness of coming out of the persecuted and ostracized evangelical Christianity in the USSR, and the freedom-loving and "relaxed" Christianity from the West; the strong faith in the face of adversity of Russian/ Soviet Christians and the perceived (by Russian Christians) luke-warmness of Western Christians. During my evangelistic and missionary travels throughout USSR/CIS I also came across an implicit, and at other times explicit, notion of our Russian evangelical sense of some "spiritual" superiority in relation to our Western brothers and sisters, and towards Western Christianity as a whole. Later, I was struck by the words of a theology lecturer who travelled on numerous occasions to Eastern Europe: "You defended the truth, but by doing so very often accumulated a spiritual pride." All this sent me on a path of self-examination and further study. In my subsequent encounters with Russian Orthodox Christians I came to realize that they also carry this inherent notion of superiority or open antagonism towards Western Christianity, which is extended towards Russian Protestantism, as well. That insight, in turn, resulted in historical inquiry.

The main attention in this paper will be devoted to the development of the papacy in the West, its conflicts with the ecclesiastical and imperial structures of the East, the relationship between the two churches, and the consequences of this struggle for Russian Christianity. Perhaps it will help us Russian evangelical Christians to see our own sense of "belonging" in the context of wider, historical Christianity.

The West: Papal doctrine, its origins, and development

The development of papal doctrine, which subsequently led to the appearance of the monarchic papal institution, represents the evolution1 of different theological and administrative concepts. These, in turn, were the logical conclusions formulated by Christian thinkers out of the praxis of the early church,2 which underwent constant modifications in the light of changing historical reality.

Schmemann pointed to the appearance of Roman "self-consciousness" in

the West toward the end of the second century.3 In the early stages of this development the notion of Roman primacy appeared to be based on the precedent of its apostolic connection with both Peter and Paul, their martyrdom in Rome, and the establishment of this church by the apostles.4 The notion of the apostolic foundation and connection, which in turn produced a corollary notion of authority, seemed to have played a major role already in the relationship between Rome and other churches in the pre-Nicaean period.5

St. Cyprian (3C) seems to have contributed indirectly to the rise of the theological significance of the see of Rome by promulgating Peter as the model of the episcopal ministry and attributing the foundation of the church of Rome to Peter alone, thus strengthening the Petrine connec-tion.6 He identified the church of Rome as cathedra Petri and ecclesia principalis and constructed the essential link between the powers of the apostles and the powers of the bish-ops.7 Subsequently, a shift occurred in the perception of the church of

1 It seems that it would be more correct to desig-

nate the phenomenon of the papacy as that of an

ongoing process grounded in the historical reali-

ties of the Mediterranean basin rather than as a

phenomenon that has a definitive starting point in history and a particular person as its main ideologist. This seems to be the logical conclusion to be drawn from the definitions proposed by different scholars in relation to the issue of the appearance of papacy as an institution. See J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-

600), 340; J. Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, 38ff; W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity, 627ff.; T. Ware, The Orthodox Church, 35ff.; A. Schmemann, The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, 83ff. ;W. Ullmann,

"Leo I and the Theme of Papal Primacy," JTS, XI, (1960), 25ff.; J. Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476-752, 9ff.; F.

Dvornik, Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, 41ff.; B.J. Kidd, The Roman Primacy, 52ff.; S. Runciman, The Eastern Schism, 14ff.; K.F. Morrison, Tradition and Authority in the Western Church 300-1140, 78ff.; J. Meyendorff, Rome, Constantinople, Moscow, 15ff.

2 Tertullian seems to point to Rome's eminence precisely on the basis of the martyrdom of Paul and Peter. De praescriptione haereticorum, 36.

3 Schmemann, Road, 83.

4 Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus haereses, 3.12.5.

5 Schmemann, Road, 83-4.

6 It must be pointed out that Cyprian wrote within the context of the unity of the church and that he perceived the episcopal authority of Peter as being shared by all the bishops of the church rather than belonging exclusively to Roman bishop. De unitate ecclesiae, 4.

7 Cyprian, De unitate ecclesiae, 4.



Rome. It came to be associated not with the apostles Paul and Peter, but with Peter alone, who was perceived to be the founder and the first bishop of Rome.8 This perception was strengthened even further by the Roman hierarchy under the Popes Liberi-us (352-66) and Damasus (366-84) who introduced a new title for the Roman see as sedes apostolica, thus putting the "seal" of approval upon the exclusive apostolic connection with Peter and re-asserting the primacy of the Roman bishop as being based upon Petrine primacy.

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Alongside the appearance of the perception of Rome as having the apostolic connection with Peter, its founder, the fourth century manifested the ever-growing self-perception of Rome as the final court of appeal. The existence of this Roman "specific" right, though never defined by any conciliar decree between East and West, was nevertheless recognized by both parts of Christendom.9 The Council of Sardica (342/3) expressed the exclusive claims of the Roman church to be the final court of appeal in matters of faith and practice in legal terms.10 The notion of apostolic authority as inherited from Peter was transformed from the realm of belief and theological speculation into a legally binding dogma.11

8 Optatus, Jerome, and Augustine were able to declare that the church of Rome was founded by Peter who was its first bishop. Optatus, De schismate Donatistorum, II, 2-3 in E. Giles, Documents Illustrating Papal Authority A.D. 96454, 118. Jerome, Contra Luciferianos, 23, in Giles, Documents, 152. Augustine, Contra Litteras Petiliani, II, 118. Ep., 53, 2; Contra Epistolam Manichaei, 5, in Giles, Documents, 180ff.

9 Meyendorff, Unity, 59.

10See Canon 3, in J. Stevenson, (ed.), Creeds, Coun-

cils and Controversies, 15.

The profound changes of the fourth century under Constantine altered the number of existing ecclesiastical centers in the East. The foundation of a new imperial capital laid a precedent for the appearance of a new ecclesiastical center, which gradually rose in its significance and power during the fourth century. The Arian controversy, in which ecclesiastical elements were closely intertwined with political factors, contributed to the rise of rivalry between the Eastern ecclesiastical centers.12 The Council of Constantinople (381), which was intended to deal with Eastern theological and administrative problems, provoked a reaction from the Western church. The Eastern attempt to elevate the see of Constantinople to the rank of the Roman see on political grounds13 was interpreted by the bishops of Rome from a particular Roman standpoint. The Roman primacy was affirmed, contrary to Eastern perception, not on political grounds or on the basis of the conciliar decisions, but on the basis of apostolic authority and foundation. Likewise, the honor and place of the Eastern sees, such as Alexandria and Antioch, were judged according to the apostolic criterion. The newly established see of Constantinople was perceived by the West as lacking any apostolic criterion and

11 This state of affairs was endorsed by Western imperial legislation under Gratian. See To Aquili-nus, Vicar of the City, in Giles, Documents, 127-8.

12 Schmemann, Road, 111.

13Canon 3, in Giles, Documents, 130. Meyendorff, Unity, 61-2, points out that the ambiguity of the third canon could have meant either the abolition of the primacy of "old Rome" and the transfer of primacy to Constantinople on political grounds, or that the primacy of the bishop of Rome was due to the imperial location.

representing a novelty on the part of the Eastern church.14

The collapse of the Western Empire in the fifth century elevated the papacy to the forefront of ecclesiastical and secular life in the western part of the Roman Empire. The geographical remoteness from the imperial influence in Constantinople and the political instability in the West, as well as the development of the "double sword"15 theological concept, contributed to the growth of the papal institution that gradually assumed a greater ecclesiastical and secular authority. The lack of imperial influence contributed to the rise of the Roman see as the independent court of appeal, creating the possibility for Eastern bishops to appeal to the judgment of Rome against imperial interventions in the East. 16 The greatness of Rome came to be seen as resting upon the apostolic connections.17 Leo I understood the church in Roman juridical terms as "an organic, concrete and earthly society"18 corpus Christi, which was ruled by the "emperor-like" single bishop of Rome who received principatus19 by virtue of being the "heir" to the see of Peter. While sharing the common understanding with

other church fathers in the West and East about the pre-eminence of Peter among the apostles and the assumption that all bishops share the episcopacy, Leo I introduced the notion of the Roman episcopate's uniqueness, and worked out the doctrinal basis of its authority and primacy through the juristic succession of the papacy to St. Peter.

The defence of doctrinal orthodoxy during the Chalcedonian Council (451) as propagated by Leo's I (44061) Tome served to confirm not only the doctrinal purity of the Roman see but also its primacy.20 This was revealed in the objections that were raised by Leo I in relation to Canon 28 of Chalcedon, which confirmed the honor of the see of Constantinople on the basis of Canon 3 of the Council of Constantinople (381). Leo pointed to the lack of any apostolic foundation for the see of Constantinople, which discredited its status in relation to the see of Rome. Thus, Canon 2 821 was seen as a dangerous innovation on the part of Constantinople that infringed on the universal rights of the see of Rome. 22 This attitude was revealed later by Pope Gelasius I (492-96) who endorsed Leo's decisions and went a

14 Giles, Documents, 130, remarks that in the West, Canon 3 of Constantinople was not recognized until the Lateran Council of 1215.

15 This concept stands for the separation between secular and ecclesiastical authority and spheres of influence. Hosius of Cordova and Ambrose of Milan can be seen as representing the traditional Western viewpoint which was repeated throughout the following centuries. Stevenson, Creeds, doc., 24; 103, 35-6, 139-40.

16 However, Meyendorff, Unity, 60, points out that

the appeals of the Eastern bishops to their coun-

terparts in the West always included several bish-

ops from the West, which indicated the Eastern

perception of the "collective" Western ecclesiasti-

cal authority as a whole. See Theodoret, Histories, V, 9, in P. Schaff, (ed.), Theodoret, Bishop of Cyr-rhus, 1-18. Palladius, Dialogue, 2.

17 Leo, Sermo, 82, Giles, Documents, 283-4.

18 On the juridical language employed by Leo, see Ullmann, 'Leo I', 25-51.

19 Leo, Ep., 9.

20 This seems to be confirmed even by the Council of Chalcedon (Eastern). See Ep., 98.

21 Runciman, Schism, 14-5, among other factors perceives the lack of clarity of Canon 28 to be of considerable importance, which could have contributed to Western denial of that canon.

22 In a letter to Pulcheria Leo actually annulled this canon. See Ep., 105, 3.



step further during the Acacian schism by denying the city of Constantinople even metropolitan status.23 Similarly, Gelasius re-affirmed Roman judicial rights: "The voice of Christ, the traditions of the elders and the authority of the canons confirms that (Rome) may always judge the whole Church."24 The "Caesaropa-pist"25 trend on the part of the Eastern emperors, mainly dictated by the political needs of the Byzantine Empire, which was willing to accept and even to assert Roman primacy for the sake of achieving its political aims, was further strengthened under Emperor Justinian (6C). In his desire to restore the Roman Empire, Justinian reserved a special place for the "older" Rome. Justinian perceived the Roman see in universalistic terms which were developed by the Roman papacy.26

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By the time of Gregory the Great I (590-604), the issues of the Roman primacy, its doctrinal Orthodoxy, and supreme universal position, became a part of the Latin "arsenal" in its dealings with the East. Gregory reinforced the principle of resolving doctrinal disputes through the final authority of Rome on the basis of Rome's doctrinal reputation that was acquired throughout the preceding

centuries and widely acknowledged by all churches in Christendom.

Furthermore, the subsequent involvement of the see of Rome, its role in resolving doctrinal and ecclesiastical matters in the East during the Iconoclastic Controversy (7-8C),27 the Photian "schism" (9C),28 as well as its own development along the lines of a monarchical institution, 29 led to the establishment of the papacy in its final form at the end of the eleventh century. The reformed papacy30 under Gregory VII (1073-85) became "an institutional power, conceived as God-established and non-negotiable,"31 whose aim was dominium mundi - the domination and the subjection of the whole of Christendom under the authority of the Roman see. The acknowledgement of the Roman church as the ecclesia universalis and the mater et caput32 of all Christendom, with a corollary notion of authority, came to dominate any discussion of union between East and West and subsequently brought about the final separation.

The East: Ecclesiastical authority

In contrast to the West, where the only church of apostolic origin was that of Rome, the East had several churches of apostolic origin. The prac-

23 See Gelasius I, Tractate, 4. Ep., 26., as found in Richards, Popes, 10.

24 Gelasius I, Ep., 4, in Richards, Popes, 12.

25 The term signifies the spiritual authority of the emperor over the church.

26 See Novel IX, Corpus iuris civilis, III, ed. G. Kroll, 91, as found in Dvornik, Byzantium, 73.

27 See Theodore of Studios, Epistles, 2, 12, 13, Nice-

phorus, Images, 25. Whil appealing to Rome Nice-

phorus, nevertheless, puts Rome's authority with-

in the system of "pentarchy". See P O'Connell, The

Ecclesiology of St Nicephorus I, Orientalia Christi-

ana Analecta, 194, Roma, (1974), 178-94. Cf. also

Runciman, Schism, 20ff; Pelikan, Spirit, 154.

28 On the Photian "schism" and Roman involvement, see F. Dvornik, The Photian schism, history and legend, Cambridge, 1948.

29 Pelikan, Spirit, 164.

30On the papal reform and its consequence for the East see, A. Papadakis, The Christian East and the rise of the Papacy, 17-67.

31 Meyendorff, Rome, 18. Cf. also, F. Dvornik, The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization, 272.

32 J.M. Hussey, The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire, 168.

tice of the ecumenical councils in the early church presupposed the collegial principle of authority, which was perceived to reside in the decision of the ecumenical councils confirmed by all participating churches. The development of the Eastern churches on the "principle of accommodation to the political division of the Empire,"33 in which the administrative structure of the church was patterned after the administrative structure of the Roman Empire, received a new impetus under Constantine. The church had to adapt to the socio-political changes brought about during Constantine's era. These changes required the formulation of a new Christian world-view and the ecclesiastical regulations that would accommodate the new historical reality and reflect the understanding of the place of the church within the empire. The Council of Nicaea in its sixth canon recognized the existence of the autonomous ecclesiastical centers in the empire and defined the de facto primacy of each according to their geographical regions, namely Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.

The foundation of Constantinople by Constantine the Great altered the existing situation in the ecclesiastical sphere. The establishment of the new capital of the Roman Empire was followed by the gradual establishment of a new ecclesiastical center. In contrast to other ecclesiastical centers in the East that owed their origins to apostolic foundations, the ecclesiastical

center of Constantinople grew out of its close association with the imperial court. The appearance of Eusebian34 imperial ideology, which presented a new vision of Christian oikoumene and envisaged a close alliance between church and state, implied the overlapping of political and ecclesiastical interests within that alliance. Moreover, the political harmony and well being of the Roman Empire required harmony within the ecclesiastical sphere. The ecclesiastical issues of the "outward organization of the Church" were to be worked out by and receive the approval of the imperial court in order to receive the juridical power of the "law of the land"35 from the period of Constantine onwards.

Furthermore, the close alliance between church and state required the formation of a new ecclesiastical center in close proximity to the imperial court. Thus, the establishment of the imperial court in Constantinople with a single ruler was followed by similar centralization in the ecclesiastical sphere. In line with the principle of accommodation and imperial ideology, which required "parallelism between the structures of State and Church,"36 there happened a gradual formation of the episcopal synod around the imperial court which was subsequently led by a single bishop of Constantinople - a "natural consequence of socio-political change."37 This process, in turn, coincided with the Christological controversy during which the see of Constantinople was

33 Dvornik, Byzantium, 54.

34 Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 337).

35 Schmemann, Road, 244.

36 Schmemann, Road, 182. Schmemann, ibid., 180,

points to a change in the practice of episcopal con-

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secration as well as the formation of the episcopal synod of the patriarch as illustrative of this Byzantine ecclesiastical centralization from the fourth century onwards. 37 Meyendorff, Unity, 62.



elevated to the forefront of ecclesiastical affairs through its involvement with and close proximity to the imperial court, as well as through its efforts in promulgating the politico-ecclesiastical decrees. The Christologi-cal struggle, in which the see of Constantinople had to wrestle with other ecclesiastical centers of the East, such as Alexandria, was won with imperial assistance which elevated the church of Constantinople to the highest ecclesiastical position in the East - a precedent which was bound to have repercussions for the balance of ecclesiastical authority. One of the consequences of this process was the inevitable clash with other sees in the East in which the "imperial" church of Constantinople was bound to meet opposition, whether on the basis of its primacy or doctrinal orthodoxy.

The Council of Constantinople (381) represents a significant step in the Eastern development of the sphere of ecclesiastical authority. By attributing the title of presbeLaDnmrc(prima-cy of honor) to the bishop of Constantinople after the bishop of Rome, the Eastern church manifested its allegiance to the principle of accommodation: the "decisive factor became the civic importance of the city."38 The third canon of Constantinople defined the church of Constantinople as the unique center in the East, equal in honor to the church of Rome. This move strengthened the tendency towards a greater centralization of power that took place in the subsequent

history of the Eastern church.

The Council of Chalcedon (451) in Canon 28 re-asserted Constantinople's primacy in the East and brought about a further increase in Constantinople's authority and prestige. This canon explicitly pronounced the Eastern understanding of the issue of ecclesiastical primacy both in the East and West. The primacy of honors of both sees was viewed from the Eastern standpoint of accommodation: the political primacy of both cities automatically implied ecclesiastical primacy. Yet, in contrast to the Council of Constantinople, which only defined the ecclesiastical primacy of Constantinople, the Chalcedonian Council introduced a new step in the increase of the centralization of ecclesiastical power and authority in the hands of the archbishop of Constantinople, by giving him the administrative and the canonical right to ordain39 the metropolitans and bishops of the Pontic, Thracian, and Asian dioceses. It appears, then, that the Council of Chal-cedon legalized post factum the existing ecclesiastical practice and honor of the see of Constantinople that was acquired gradually through Constan-tine's era and beyond. The bishop of Constantinople was allowed to exercise de facto authority in Asia Minor in the same way as his Western counterpart, the Pope of Rome.40

The legislative activity of the Emperor Justinian, who brought to completion the Eusebian imperial ideology in the sphere of the relationship

38 Schmemann, Road, 116.

39 Whether this was an innovation on the part

of Chalcedon or the endorsement of the existing practice depends upon the reliability of Anato-lius' reference to the existence of this practice

for 60-70 years prior to Chalcedon. See Giles, doc. 265, 325.

40 See Arhiepiskop Afonskij, "Kanonicheskoje poloz-henije Patriarkha Konstantinopol'skogo v Pravo-slavnoi Cerkvi", in Vestnik RHD, 182, 1, (2001), 279.

between church and state, also affected the canonical right of the church of Constantinople. Thus, in contrast to the Chalcedonian decision which extended Constantinople's right over the dioceses in Asia Minor without giving it any right over other Eastern sees, Justinian legislated for the see of Constantinople to become the final court of appeal in relation to other sees.41 This notion, without jeopardizing the theory of pentarchy,42 which perceived the universal church to be ruled by five Patriarchs,43 was, nevertheless, symptomatic of the rise of Constantinople's significance and status in relation to other Eastern sees in the centuries to come.

The political changes of the seventh century brought about a new impetus in the ecclesiastical authority of the see of Constantinople. The Muslim conquest left Christendom with only two real centers: Rome and Constantinople, the latter coming to exercise the de facto supremacy in the East, representing Eastern Orthodoxy. The role of the church of Constantinople and its Patriarch changed accordingly. The conquest of all other Eastern patriarchates by Muslims elevated the Patriarchate of Constantinople in relation to that of Rome, strengthening the position of the see of Constantinople. The see of Constantinople became

the "ecumenical" see within the boundaries of a reduced Byzantine oik-oumene and the representative of the Eastern church, increasing its power and authority. Thus, in the following centuries the patriarch assumed a role somewhat "similar" but also dissimilar to that of the pope in the West. While becoming the powerful single head in Eastern Christendom, the Patriarch of Constantinople was, nevertheless, restrained in his authority by imperial co-existence and ecclesiasti-co-imperial legislation of Justinian's time and of later periods, defining patriarchal authority within the boundaries of the conceptual framework of symphony .44

Russian Christianity: Kievan Rus'

The controversial age of Photius was also the age of Byzantine missionary expansion. In a true Byzantine sense this expansion represented a mixture of politico-religious aims according to the Byzantine concept of Christian oikoumene. The early Russian attacks on Constantinople forced the Byzantines to apply the double effort of state diplomacy combined with missionary activity in order to "subdue" the barbarian threat to Byzantium from the north.45 This policy was further promulgated by sending the first

41 Bolotov, Lektsii, III, 234.

42 The idea was based upon the five human senses. Meyendorff, Rome, 89-90, traces the beginnings of the idea of pentarchy to the different councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), which defined respectively the privileges of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.

43 T. Ware, " The Christian Theology in the East",

in H. Cunliffe-Jones (ed.), A History of Christian

Doctrine, 212.

44 It should be pointed out that this theory was not strictly kept during the existence of the Byzantine Empire, neither by the imperial side, which was inclined to exercise "Caesaropapism," nor by the patriarchs of Constantinople who occasionally were inclined to show signs of "Papo-caesarism." See Hussey's assessment of the rule

of Michael Cerularius, Church, 130ff.

45 On the designation of Russians as barbarians by Photius after their attack of Constantinople in 860 see, Homily IV, 2, Departure of the Russians.



bishop to Kievan Rus' in 867.46

However, the real turning point for the advance of Christianity in Kievan Rus, began with the conversion of Princess Olga, who visited Constantinople in 957 and was subsequently baptized. As in the case of Bulgaria in its early stages, Kievan Christianity seems to have been unsure about its loyalty to a particular "mode" of Christianity.47 Its choice came to rest with Byzantine Christianity by the time of Vladimir, Olga's grandson. His legendary conversion and baptism marked the decisive advance of Christianity in Kievan Rus '.48 Vladimir's conversion happened in accordance with Byzantine external policies in relation to the Slavic nations, as well as with Vladimir's political aims.49 On the side of the Byzantine politico-ecclesiastical alliance, it involved the imposition of baptism upon Vladimir and permission for him to marry a royal bride as a way of entering the Christian oikoumene. For Vladimir, in turn, marriage into the Byzantine royal court, even by force, meant entrance into a higher civilization and receiving the title of basileu,j "through the subordinate

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46 Hussey, Church, 101. Meyendorff, Rise, 4.

47 For a variety of interpretations of Olga's policies see A.D. Stokes, Kievan Russia, 59; A. V. Kartashev, Ocherkipo istorii russkoi tserkvi, I, 159.

48 See Vladimir's conversion in the Russian Primary Chronicle, 96ff.

49 G. G. Litavrin, A. P. Kazhdan, Z. V. Udal'tsova, "Otnosheniia drevnei Rusi I Vizantii v XI-pervoi polovine XIII v., in J.M. Hussey, D. Obolensky, S. Runciman (eds.), Proceedings of the XIIIth International Congress of Byzantine Studies, 70.

50Meyendorff, Rise, 14.

51 One has to be careful, however, not to "construct"

the pro-Byzantine model of politico-ecclesiastical

alliance of Kievan Rus after Byzantium. It had its

own developed administrative structures with the distinctive Slavic features characteristic of Kiev-

association with the legitimate Emperor."50 This move, in its turn, predetermined the cultural and historical development of Rus , according to Byzantine politico-ecclesiastical structures51 and political theory,52 which, nevertheless, assumed a particular Russian character.53

The ecclesiastical arrangement followed political deliberations and was to follow the Eastern principle of accommodation in which the ecclesiastical structures were to follow the political developments in the history of Kievan as well as Muscovite Rus . Thus, while Kiev was the capital of Kievan Rus , the ecclesiastical center of Rus, co-existed in close proximity with the royal court. The destruction of Kiev as a political center by the Mongols and the shift in political gravity to the north resulted in the transfer of the ecclesiastical center of Rus , to Vladimir as the new political center in 1300.54

Furthermore, the ecclesiastical policy of Byzantium towards Russian Christianity in the Kievan period followed the established tradition of Byzantine oikoumene. The Metropolitan of Kiev was appointed by Con-

an Rus'. See Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 173ff.

52 See Meyendorff, Rise, 18ff. Dvornik, Slavs, 370, asserts that Byzantine political theory was known to such writers of the Kievan period as Metropolitan Illarion, Cyril of Turov, Vladimir Monomachus. See S. A. Zenkovsky (ed.), Medieval Russia's Epics, Chronicles, and Tales, 86ff.

53 It seems that Russian ecclesiastical writers went even further in their understanding of temporal authority. The Byzantine perception of the divine origin of temporal authority was supplemented by teaching on the similarity between the authority of basileus and that of God: - 'естеством бо земным подобен есть всякому человеку цесарь, вла-стию же сана яко Бог'. As found in Карташёв, Очерки, I, 254.

54 Meyendorff, Rise, 46.

stantinople and was expected to profess loyalty to a mother church in Constantinople as well as to the Byzantine emperor.55 The ecclesiastical authorities were expected to be "channels" of Byzantine imperial ideology and worldview, led by metropolitans, who, in the early stages of Kievan Rus ' were predominantly Greek.56 However, in the later period of Kievan Rus , after the Mongol conquests, there seemed to be a change in Byzantine ecclesiastical policy, which resulted in the alternation of the Metropolitan of Kiev between Greeks and Russians.57

Additionally, the superiority of Byzantine civilization, reflected in the realm of imperial and ecclesiastical structure, culture, language, and theology, at the time of Russian entry into Byzantine oikoumene presupposed a degree of Russian dependency upon Byzantium. This inadequacy in the relationship between Kievan Rus , and Byzantium defined Russians as the disciples of the Greeks.

Meyendorff points to the peculiarity of Russian Christianity expressed in its ritualism and the desire to preserve "the very letter of tradition received 'from Greeks.'"58 This preservation must have been expressed in the general adherence to Orthodoxy as the certain and the only authentic "mode" of Christianity in its Greek form. Bearing in mind the existence of such a par-

55 Meyendorff, Rise, 17.

56 See Runciman, Schism , 70.

57 D. Obolensky, "Byzantium, Kiev and Moscow: A Study in Ecclesiastical Relations," DOP, 11, (1957), 21-78.

58 Meyendorff, Rise, 25.

59 Ibid., 26-7.

60 Ibid., 27.

61 The early writings of Russian ecclesiastical

writers in the eleventh century seem to point in

ticular outlook of Russian Christianity from its very beginning, it seems that its historical choice in following the Eastern "mode" of Christianity predetermined its future outlook and attitude towards the Western church. Russian Christianity inherited some of the features of Greek Christianity, namely its anti-Latin outlook, which must have been passed onto the Russians in the period following the Pho-tian "schism."

Meyendorff tends to perceive the anti-Latin stand of the Kievan church as a later development of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.59 Such an understanding, however, seems to ignore the legacy of the clashes between Rome and Constantinople and the established antagonism that existed on both sides. Meyendorff's assertion that the Primary Chronicle reflected the "polemics between Greeks and Latins... characteristic of the eleventh century" is not entirely satisfactory and seems to be one-sided.60 I would like to suggest that Russians were aware of conflicts between Greeks and Latins in the post-Photian period and "inherited" the anti-Latin spirit as part of Byzantium's authentic "mode" of Christianity, expressed through the imperial and ecclesiastical ideology61 via the medium of translated literature in the postVladimir period.62 This logical deduc-

that direction. See references in M. Cherniavsky, "The Reception of the Council of Florence in Moscow," Church History, 24, (1955), 350, n. 34. Cf. also G. Podskalsky, Christentum und Theologische Literatur in der Kiever Rus, (988-1237), 91, 1804. See Theodosius of Kiev-Pechora, "Slovo o vere khristianskoi i latinskoi" in Metropolitan Ioann, Samoderzhaviie Duha, 92-3. 62 V. Fedorov, "Barriers to Ecumenism: An Orthodox View from Russia," in RSS, 26, 2, 1998, 134 and bibliography on Russian documents.

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tion can be supported by the fact that already by the tenth century - the period of adoption of Byzantine Christianity in Russia— there was an extensive amount of literature translated and available in Slavonic. It was either brought from Bulgaria from the Cyrillo-Methodian mission or translated in Kiev under Vladimir and his son Yaroslav. The Greek clergy, who occupied the highest hierarchical posts in Kievan Russia, passed on to Russia the Eastern understanding of the papacy and its dogmatic fail-ures.63 Being the true disciples of the Byzantines to the very letter of Greek tradition, Russian Christianity developed in due course its own anti-Latin spirit, building upon the Byzantine literary heritage64 and its own historical encounters with the West, later culminating at the Council of Florence (15C).

This, in itself, was symptomatic of the emergence of a Russian national mentalite expressed throughout the Kievan period in its "embryonic" form. It tended to define Russian Christianity, the nation, and the state in terms reminiscent of Byzantine Christian universalism, distinct from the Greeks,65 yet never outside of the concept of Byzantine oikoumene.66 The Chronicles placed Rus , within world history, thus elevating their own history and self-perception to a supra-

national level of significance, which, later on, brings Muscovite Rus , to the forefront of world history with the perception of Moscow as the Third Rome, taking over the responsibilities of Constantinople on the ecclesiastical level.67


The clashes between West and East were inevitable in the light of the developments that took place in Christendom in the post-Constantine era. The division of the Roman Empire into western and eastern parts was subsequently reflected in the increasingly divergent trends that developed within the Western and Eastern churches. As a result of the collapse of the western part of the empire in the fifth century, the Western church was further separated from the Eastern church and developed its position independently. The political changes, in turn, were complemented by ecclesiastical developments that occurred respectively in the West and East.

These developments took place in the West and East along different lines. In the West, ecclesiastical development evolved around the church of Rome, which grew increasingly in its moral prestige, being "free" from the influence of the imperial government. The notion of the authority of the Ro-

63 See Н. Tal'berg, Istoriia russkoi tserkvi, 73-4. Tal'berg points to the existence of anti-Latin polemic in Kievan Russia as propagated by Greek clergy. «Само собою разумеется, что как смотрели на латинян до разделения греки, так смотрели на них и мы», 76, citing Golubinski.

64 D. Obolensky, "The Heritage of Cyril and

Methodius in Russia," DOP, 19, (1965), 57ff. A.

Popov, Istoriko-literaturnyi obzor drevne-russkih polemicheskih socinenij protiv latinjan XI-XVv,

iv-v, 2ff.

65 Russian anti-Greek sentiments can be traced to as early as the twelfth century. See I. Sev-cenko, "Russo-Byzantine Relations After the Eleventh Century," in Proceedings, 98. Meyen-dorff, Rise, 21.

66 Metropolitan Hilarion, Sermon on Law and Grace, in Zenkovsky, Epics, 86ff.

67 Primary Chronicle, 51ff. The Christian origins of Kievan Christianity is attributed to both the apostle Andrew and Paul. Meyendorff, Rise, 19ff.

man church and its bishop was perceived by the West as being based on its apostolic foundation and a particular Roman interpretation of its bishop as the inheritor of Petrine universal authority. The Eastern ecclesiastical development, on the other hand, was based on the principle of political accommodation. This principle presupposed the equality of the ancient apostolic sees and envisaged the supreme authority as belonging to the Ecumenical Council rather than a particular see of apostolic foundation. The Eastern ecclesiastical development received a new impetus under Constan-tine and was further enhanced by the appearance of the imperial ideology and a new capital, which brought about a closer alliance between church and state and the appearance of a new ecclesiastical center. The Eastern principle of political accommodation allowed the church of Constantinople to be elevated to the supreme position within the Eastern church and become the equal of the Western church.

These two divergent principles, namely apostolic versus political, being foundational for each part, were increasingly manifested in the period following the post-Constantine era. Additionally, the occasional interferences of the Byzantine emperors into ecclesiastical affairs and the existence of the controversies in the East led towards the establishment of the ecclesiastical practice of Eastern appeals to Roman judgment, thus contributing to Roman self-perception as the final court of appeal and strengthening the authority of the Roman bishop. The lack of theological response from the Eastern side towards the growth of papal authority on Roman "apostolic"

terms in its early stages, contributed to further independent growth of the papal claims throughout the fifth century.

The political developments in both parts following the collapse of the Western empire and the Muslim conquests of the seventh century resulted in further estrangement between West and East and changes in the ecclesiastical sphere. While in the West, political instability contributed to the greater elevation of the church of Rome to the forefront of ecclesiastical and secular life, the Eastern church came to be represented solely by the see of Constantinople, which exercised de facto authority in the East.

These political changes coincided with the "internal" changes within Christendom, which reflected the "nationalization" of Christianity. The political estrangement had an effect upon cultural and linguistic developments, bringing about a further divide between West and East which mirrored the division between Latin and Greek culture and language. Thus, by the time of Photius' "schism" the division between West and East was reflected in the realm of theological thought, political administration, ecclesiastical authority, culture, and language.

Kievan Rus , entered the Byzantine oikoumene in the aftermath of the Photian "schism." The establishment of the ecclesiastical center in Kiev was accomplished according to the Byzantine vision of oikoumene. The imperial ideology of the Byzantine Empire was brought into Kievan Rus , via the medium of translated literature. This promulgated the supremacy of Constantinople in political and ecclesias-



tical matters: the loyalty of Kievan Christianity to the Byzantine Emperor and Constantinople's authority in the realm of doctrine and church praxis. The emergence of a particular Eastern mode of Christianity, which was characterized by Greek overtones and was distinctive from Western Christianity by the ninth century, implied the transfer of certain features of "Greek" Christianity to Kievan Christianity. This Eastern outlook of Kiev-an Christianity was subsequently enhanced even further by the schism between West and East in the eleventh century, and subsequently by Western crusades, which contributed even further to the rise of anti-Latin expressions amongst Kievan and later Muscovite ecclesiastical writers.

However, the existence of conflicting interests on the part of Kiev-an rulers opposed to Byzantine imperialism, and the rise of national self-consciousness on the part of Kievan ecclesiastical writers were bound to give rise to nationalistic perceptions of its Christianity, state, and church. This, being supported by a peculiar Russian ritualistic understanding of

Orthodoxy, was destined to come into conflict with both West and East in subsequent centuries.

It seems to this author that once Russian evangelical Christianity appeared in the nineteenth century, it inherited some of the features of Eastern mentalite and culture, which moulded to some extent its spiritual outlook and church praxis, as well as its attitude towards the West. Which features? They are, perhaps, the basis for further research and another publication. When a Russian evangelical encounters a Western Protestant believer, he cannot fail to notice the difference between himself and the Western Christian. The question that arises from such encounters is how one is to handle and to understand these differences? What needs to be embraced on theological/philosophical grounds and what is to be rejected on cultural grounds? The historical evidence from the encounters between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches does not present a rosy picture. Will our experience be similar or different? The question requires serious reflection.


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