Editorial Volume 8


It is with great joy that Analogia dedicates this extensive volume to the Theology of the Russian Diaspora. It is true that for the first half of the 20th century the Orthodox theological floor belonged to this series of eminent theological thinkers whose pathbreaking thought is still a source of immense inspiration for Christian theology in general. Their theology has been a gift of God's loving Providence not only for the Orthodox, but also for the West, since even those of them who dealt with subjects touching the Orthodox identity, they did this in a sound ecumenical perspective, thus helping a deeper self-awareness for the whole the Christian Greek-Western world.

The special editor of this volume is Dr Andreas Andreopoulos who organised the relevant symposium at the University of Winchester. On the part of the Analogia, I express my gratitude for all the work that he put into this.

– Nikolaos Loudovikos, Senior Editor



It gives me great pleasure to introduce the eighth volume of Analogia, dedicated to the theology of the Russian Diaspora. The foundation and inspiration for this volume is a conference that was dedicated to this theme, which took place at the University of Winchester in January 2018, right after the completion of a century after the Russian revolution of 1917, the event that set in motion the migration of Russian intellectuals and theologians to the West. This migration initiated an exchange of ideas between East and West, which had not taken place for centuries in such a scale. In addition, it compelled Orthodox theologians to articulate their own theology in a way that made more sense to Orthodox people in both parts of Europe, and in this way, it may be said that the generation of the Russian diaspora inaugurated modern Orthodox theology, well beyond the confines of Russian communities. The underlying thought in the Winchester conference, as well as in this present volume, was to reflect on the quests, the questions, and the directions that this generation left for us, and rather than simply reminisce about that exceptional period of theological thought and creativity, to attempt an appraisal of its legacy today.

In my own article I tried to address this broad question, focusing on the impact of the thought of the Russian theologians in the areas of apophaticism, mystical theology, modern Orthodox ecclesiology, as well as the neopatristic turn. Some of those areas were undeniably defined in their current form by Russians such as Lossky, Schmemann, Afanasiev, and Florovsky, but we can nevertheless trace their development into our days, and the continuation of that conversation in a different cultural, political, and perhaps also spiritual context.

Brandon Gallaher in his article touches on the difficult and divisive question of ecumenical dialogue, to the extent that it involves the Orthodox Church, also understood as a cultural dialogue between Eastern and Western Christianity. Gallaher is certainly interested in the situation today, as he concludes with his reflection on the Council of Crete in 2016, but in order to illuminate the way this dialogue has been shaped, he starts his examination with its early phases, conducted and developed by members of the Russian diaspora such as Sergei Bulgakov, Nicholas Zernov and Georges Florovsky.

Paul Gavrilyuk examines the roots of the ‘neopatristic synthesis’, which is associated with Georges Florovsky. Gavrilyuk reminds us that Florovsky’s call for the return to the Fathers, which has marked Orthodox theological expression in the 20th and 21st century to a great extent, came about to a great extension as a response, or rather as a reaction to the modernist strand of the time, mostly Bulgakov and Berdyaev. Gavrilyuk’s masterful examination of Florovsky’s thought concludes with an interesting reflection of neopatristic synthesis against Putin’s Russia and some of the problematic theological thought that comes out of it. Romilo Knežević attempts a comparative approach in the thought of Nietzsche and Berdyaev, both of whom tried to address the impasse of onto-theology, as a natural extension of the thought (and the universe) of Thomas Aquinas. Knežević delves in deep philosophical waters here, as he compares Nietzsche’s Chaos with the somewhat more nuanced concept of Ungrund, which Berdyaev recruits from 17th century German mysticism. In this way he illuminates the philosophical dialogue that preceded, formulated, and ultimately defined Russian thought at the beginning of the 20th century.

Paul Ladouceur takes a look at how World War II affected the thought of the Russian religious renaissance. He notes that while people such as Berdyaev and Bulgakov produced their most significant work before the War, the level of their philosophical and theological thought declined rapidly afterwards. Ladouceur looks into a number of reasons for this: the exile situation itself; the difficulty in communicating the major themes of Russian religious thought beyond the Russian context; fundamental problems in religious thought; the passing of generations; and the emergence of an alternative, more patristically and liturgically based theology.

Nikolaos Loudovikos explores some of the philosophical parameters which played a decisive role in the formation of the concept of Sophia in the Trinitarian theology of Sergius Bulgakov. As he argues, although Sophia is an idiosyncratic Russian concept, it was developed by people such as Florensky and—ultimately—Bulgakov, as a Hegelian corrective to Kantian closedness, and also, somewhat paradoxically, as an attempt to move away from German Idealism, and illuminate Divine subjectivity. This kind of examination allows us to understand and appreciate the connection between the Russian religious renaissance, as well as the Russian diaspora, and continental philosophy; a connection that has invited both study and concerns.

Andrew Louth offers an unusual view into the experience of the Russian immigrants of the early 20th century. He talks about the sense of exile many of them felt, looking into an often ignored page of the story of this migration, especially those who did not belong to the learned elite. Louth takes this further by looking at the sense of hospitality that embraced the immigrants, as they developed a dialogue with Western culture. But where this chapter becomes even more interesting is where from these two strands, of the sense of exile and the sense of hospitality, Louth traces the experiential and ecclesiological development of the concept of Catholicity/ Sobornicity that was articulated later by Afanasiev, which essentially emerged as a result of the clash between the Eusebian and the Ignatian model of ecclesiology: the model of the church/state balance that was prevalent in the land they left behind, or the model of church as community that they were rediscovering in exile.

Sotiris Mitralexis looks into the ways the theology of the Russian diaspora influenced the generation of Greek theologians in the 60s, thus sparking a new wave of thought, passing the relay as it were, to theologians such as Christos Yannaras and John Zizioulas. For Yannaras, the renaissance of Greek theology is indebted to the Russian diaspora, which pioneered areas such as the Eucharistic rather than the institutional constitution of the Church, an experiential or apophatic approach to dogma, and an existential rather than a legalistic understanding of sin. These areas could not be easily developed within Greek thought at the time. Nevertheless, Yannaras also insists that the Greek generation of new theology added a philosophical sophistication that exceeded that of the Russians, and, combined with some of the directions of Greek theology at the time, played a decisive role in its outlook today.

A very different view is offered by Stavros Baloyiannis, who dedicates his attention to St Luke of Symferopol, a Russian from the generation in examination, who nevertheless never left Russia, but remained behind and offered his services as a doctor, a theologian, and ultimately a bishop and martyr. Baloyiannis, a professor of medicine himself, looks into the tenure, or rather the ministry of St Luke, and his pursuit of academic knowledge. This presentation of St Luke, though not directly relevant to the theology of the Russian diaspora, illuminates an aspect of the Russian life of spiritual struggle within Russia, that nevertheless echoes some of the concerns of the diaspora.

Dimitris Salapatas turns to a difficult chapter in the thought of the Russian diaspora, the narrative of Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’, and by implication the premise of Russian primacy within Orthodoxy. As Salapatas reminds us, while this theory dates almost from the fall of Constantinople, it was articulated in the 16th century as Russia was creating a distinct cultural and theological identity for itself, and while it is still present in Russia today, it was also expressed by Nicholas Zernov, whose first book expresses a Russian-centred view of Christianity. Undoubtedly, Salapatas touches on a complex and painful subject, that perhaps explains much of the difficulties Orthodoxy faces today. While there may be more to be said about this idea and about Zernov himself, this is at least the initiation of a dialogue on the subject.

Christoph Schneider takes a look into the dilemma between religious rationalism and religious irrationalism, which was put forth by Meillassoux as a gradual de-absolutization of the law of identity and the law of sufficient reason, with reference to the work of Leibniz, Kant and Heidegger. If left in these terms, it might be considered a Western European philosophical problem. Nevertheless, Schneider considers it in the context of the dialogue between Florensky and Bulgakov on Western onto-theology and fideism, which allowed them to develop their distinct positions. Schneider’s article allows us to consider the Russian diaspora as a tributary to modern philosophical thought.

Finally, Dionysios Skliris attempts a look into the concept of divine and human freedom. He argues that the hardships of the generation of the Russian diaspora, who suffered the dehumanization of modernism both in its socialist collectivist and then in its liberal capitalist form, urged them to consider different ways to approach freedom philosophically. Skliris focuses particularly on Berdyaev, Florovsky and Lossky, but his examination echoes the wider problem of post-modernity, both in thought and in history.

This collection of articles is a small way to celebrate the contribution of the theologians of the Russian diaspora. Naturally, there is much more to say on the subject. In addition, much of the value of such publications is that they generate a dialogue among scholars – something we experienced at the Winchester conference, which included some edgy confrontations – and a pursuit of the next steps in theological thought. It is in this spirit that these articles are offered to the public here.

– Andreas Andreopoulos, Special Editor