VOLUME 8 – THE THEOLOGY OF THE RUSSIAN DIASPORA


The Theology of the Russian Diaspora 

For most of the twentieth century, the story of the Orthodox theology is the story of Russian theology, both in Russia itself before 1917, and in the emigration afterwards (especially in Paris).

(Rowan Williams, Eastern Orthodox Theology)

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CONTENTS - ABSTRACTS

  • The legacy of the Russian Diaspora: an evaluation and future directions
    Andreas Andreopoulos (read abstract)
    Reader in Orthodox Christianity, University of Winchester, UK

    A century after the Russian Revolution, the event that caused the migration of Russian intellectuals and theologians to the West, we may evaluate the contribution of that generation to Orthodox theology as well as to wider Christian theology. This article looks into theological areas such as apophaticism, mystical theology, ecclesiology and the neopatristic turn, trying to discern the impact of the theologians of the Russian diaspora today.

    It has been just over a century since the Russian Revolution, undoubtedly one of the most significant historical events of the twentieth century. While this was primarily a political event, and its more immediate result was the creation of an international political and military polarity that lasted for over 70 years, it generated ripples within Russian thought and culture beyond the political sphere—including modern Orthodox thought, as well as Christian thought in a broader sense. In terms of theological thought, we can see that several of the Russian intellectuals who moved to Western Europe and America as a result of the Russian Revolution articulated some theological views that made the understanding of the depth of the Orthodox theological tradition surprisingly clear—something unprecedented in modern times. While the influence of the Russian theologians who migrated to the West is undeniable, a century after the seminal event that set in motion what may be described as an explosion in Orthodox theology, we will now take a look into the legacy of that generation and reflect on what it means for us today.

    The Russian Revolution was a complex political and social phenomenon which, along with its intended targets of political change in Russia, also put into motion a rather unexpected series of events that affected the Western world. The emigration of large populations of Russians from different layers of Russian society with different skills, levels of education, interests, and familiarity with the Western world, was far from a homogenized phenomenon. Perhaps the majority of those people were assimilated quietly, even if they maintained their language and customs for as long as they lived. From this point of view, Russian communities in the West, as many other immigrant communities, contributed in an indirect way to the emergence of the multicultural society with which we are much more familiar now in the West. They

  • Saint Luke Metropolitan of Simferopol as physician, surgeon and academic professor
    Stavros J. Baloyannis (read abstract)
    Professor Emeritus, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
    Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s disease

    ‘A King’s secret ought to be kept, but the works of God should be acknowledged publicly’.

    Born in Kertz in 1877, St Luke (Valentine Felixovich Voino-Yassenetski), Metropolitan of Simferopol and Crimea, was a surgeon, professor, author, theologian, philosopher, confessor, martyr, and bishop. He studied Medicine at Kiev’s University and graduated in 1903 at the age of 26. Vladimir Felixovich initially worked as a local district physician. He offered his medical services as member of the Kiev Medical Hospital of the Red Cross during the Russian-Japanese war in 1904–1905 in the city of Chita. In 1915, Valentin Felixovich published his first important scientific work, his thesis entitled ‘Regional anesthesia’, for which he was awarded Chojnacki prize by the Warsaw University. In 1917, Valentin Felixovich went to Tashkent in order to oversee the Department of Surgery as head surgeon of the Tashkent Municipal Hospital. In 1919, his wife Anna, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, died in Tashkent, leaving four orphans. In 1921, Valentin Felixovich was ordained a deacon and priest and, in 1923, he was consecrated as a bishop. He was also appointed full professor of Topographic Anatomy and Surgery at Tashkent’s University. His lectures at the university attracted a large number of medical students and surgeons as well as students of various faculties and disciplines. In 1923, Bishop Luke was arrested and sentenced to imprisonment and exile to Siberia. That was the first of three times that Bishop Luke was arrested and exiled without cause, which he endured for 11 years. In 1924, at the hospital of Yeniseisk, Bishop Luke successfully performed the world’s first kidney transplant from animal (calf) to man. During the Great Patriotic War, He was called to serve as chief surgeon at the army hospital in Krasnoyarsk. He successfully established ‘the battlefield surgery’ and saved the lives of numerous soldiers transferred to hospital from various battlefields. For his medical services during the war, he was awarded a medal ‘For valiant effort in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945’. After the war, he finished the book ‘Late Resection of Infected Wounds of the Large Joints’, which was submitted together with his large memorable handbook entitled ‘Notes on the Surgical Treatment of Purulent Wounds’, which was awarded the Stalin Prize in the first order in 1946. In May 1946, the Holy Synod elevated Bishop Luke to the rank of Archbishop and he was elected Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea. At the same time, Bishop Luke continued to practice surgery and give consultations in the Army Hospital and Hospital of the Veterans of the Great Patriotic War in Simferopol. He proceeded to the most serious surgical operations on severe and unusual cases.

  • Ecumenism as Civilizational Dialogue: Eastern Orthodox Anti-Ecumenism and Eastern Orthodox Ecumenism: A Creative or Sterile Antinomy? 1
    Brandon Gallaher (read abstract)
    University of Exeter

    It is argued that those who uphold Ecumenism and Anti-Ecumenism in the Orthodox Church share much more in common than is normally thought to be the case. Both groups see the Orthodox Church as the Una Sancta of the Creed and that Orthodoxy must always witness to itself as the fullness of the Christian faith. They also both see ecumenical encounter (whether in dialogue or in condemnation of the Other) as being a species of civilisational dialogue between two very different realities of Christian East and West. Ultimately, it is contended, both parties have much to learn from one another so that their opposition is not a sterile but a creative antinomy.

    Introduction

    If the desire for Christian unity, the century or more push ‘that they all may be one’, is to remain vital then it will only come from frankly acknowledging that different Christian traditions have had and continue to have quite different motivations for their involvement in the movement. Orthodoxy is here no exception. From the very origins of Orthodox involvement in Ecumenism right down to the present day, the Orthodox—both those who opposed it and those who promoted it—have tended to see Ecumenism as being wrapped up with what might be called ‘civilizational dialogue’.

    By ‘civilisational dialogue’ I mean the encounter of different cultural and/or religious traditions with each other which can take multiple different forms such as simply living side by side; working together on a common task; intellectual dialogue or conflict between individuals from the different groups; spiritual sharing between two traditions; and finally ‘diplomatic’ or formal dialogue between representatives of governments or religions from the two parties.2


    1.

    This essay was first given as a keynote lecture for ’Questioning Ecumenism in the 20th Century: Who, When, Why’, ‘The Desire for Christian Unity Research Program – 2017 Research Conference’, Fondazione per le Scienze Relgiose Giovanni XXIII, Bologna, 13-15 November 2017. Convener: Prof Alberto Melloni. I am indebted to Prof Melloni and the Fondazione for the opportunity to think through these matters systematically and for feedback during the conference. It was subsequently published in another form in the UK in the International Journal of the Christian Church,19.4 (2019), 265-85.

    2.

    Here I am adapting the typology of inter-religious dialogue/encounter of Marianne Moyaert [‘Chapter 9: Interreligious Dialogue’ in Understanding Interreligious Dialogue, eds, D. Cheetham, D. Pratt, and T. David (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 202–204]. A separate paper would be needed to discuss how in late modernity churches in the Christian West have moved so far from Orthodoxy and the Christian East that the study of inter-religious dialogue is o en more appropriate for understanding Eastern Orthodox/Western Christian relations rather than the much more usual lens of intra-Christian ecumenical studies.

  • A New Chapter in the History of Russian Émigré Religious Philosophy: Georges Florovsky’s unpublished manuscript, Russkaia filosofiia v emigratsii
    Paul L. Gavrilyuk (read abstract)
    Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy, University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota, USA

    The article discusses Florovsky’s approach to the history of Russian philosophy, focusing on his un- published article ‘Russkaia filosofiia v emigratsii’ (‘Russian Philosophy in Emigration’, finished in 1930). In this article, Florovsky interprets the expulsion of many philosophers from the Soviet Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as a political and spiritual act, amounting to the government’s rejection of creativity and freedom. He takes up the issue of continuity and discontinuity in Russian intellectual history and reaches a conclusion that it is émigré thought, especially religious philosophy, which stands in continuity with the philosophical heritage of pre-revolutionary Russia. In contrast, he interprets the communist ideology developed inside the Soviet Russia as a disruption of this intellectual tradition.

    Georges Florovsky (1893–1979) is generally known as a historian of Russian religious thought and an Orthodox theologian. As an intellectual historian he is mostly re- membered for his magnum opus, The Ways of Russian Theology; as a theologian he is primarily associated with the ‘return to the Church Fathers’ in twentieth-century Orthodox theology. His theological project is usually discussed under the heading of the ‘neopatristic synthesis’ (a term that he coined, but did not use frequently) and contrasted with the modernist direction taken by his older contemporaries, including Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Sergii Bulgakov. In my new book, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance,1 I discuss Florovsky’s interactions with the leaders of the religious-philosophical renaissance and question the polarizing narrative of Russian émigré theology. According to this narrative, the Paris school of Russian religious thought is neatly divided into the camps of the ‘modernists’, such as Berdyaev and Bulgakov, on the one hand, and the neopatristic theologians, such as Florovsky and Vladimir Lossky, on the other hand. I show that Florovsky’s theological project was in fact deeply influenced by the problems and


    1.

    Paul L. Gavrilyuk, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

  • Outside of God: A Theanthropic Scrutiny of Nietzsche’s Concept of Chaos and Berdyaev’s Notion of the Ungrund
    Romilo Knežević (read abstract)
    Research Fellow, Orthodox Theology Faculty, University of Belgrade, Serbia

    The purpose of this paper is to critically examine and compare Nietzsche’s concept of chaos and Berdyaev’s notion of the Ungrund, bearing in mind the ontological problem of human freedom and the context of the ‘God after metaphysics’ debate. Nietzsche and Berdyaev introduce their respective concepts in trying to overcome the impasse of onto-theology caused by the view of God as actus purus. Chaos and the Ungrund stand for the idea of the posse reintroduced in our days by Richard Kearney. The primary cause of onto-theology, for Kearney, is the classic metaphysical tendency to subordinate the possible (posse) to the actual (esse). I identify posse with Godhead, which is the first principle in God, the ‘unapproachable intensity of his being’ and the ‘inexhaustible ground’ from which everything originates. But during the past centuries rationalism has deprived God of this first principle. ‘The power of the Godhead has disappeared.’ Berdyaev reminds us that there cannot be a valuable theodicy without ontological anthropodicy. God ceases to be actus purus when, as the result of his becoming, there is more being than there was before. God and the human being are more than just God. Humans must possess potency similar to the divine, which implies that at the end of their action there is more being than there was before. God cannot be the living God if his creature is not alive. The overcoming of onto-theology, therefore, requires a theanthropic hermeneutical method.

    Nietzsche is the forerunner of a new religious anthropology. Through Nietzsche the new humanity moves out of godless humanism to divine humanism, to a Christian anthropology. Nietzsche is an instinctive prophet of the religious renaissance of the west.

    - N. Berdyaev

    In this paper I shall critically examine and compare Nietzsche’s concept of chaos and Berdyaev’s notion of the Ungrund, bearing in mind the ontological problem of human freedom in the context of the ‘God after metaphysics’ debate. Given the immense role the issue of liberty has played in the history of philosophy, it is surprising,

  • Revolution, Exile and the Decline of Russian Religious Thought
    Paul Ladouceur (read abstract)
    Orthodox School of Theology at Trinity College, University of Toronto Faculté de théologie et de sciences religieuses,
    Université Laval (Quebec)

    Russian religious thought originated in the mid-nineteenth century and reached an apogee in the decades preceding World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, a movement known as the Russian religious renaissance. Almost all the leading figures of the religious renaissance went into exile, and several, especially Nicolas Berdyaev and Sergius Bulgakov, produced their most significant works in the years prior to World War II. But after the war, the mode of philosophical and theological reflection that they represented declined rapidly. This article advances five principal reasons for this decline: 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. Despite the decline of religious thought, many of its basic ideas have carried forward into the neopatristic mode of Orthodox theology.

    Russian Religious ought on the Eve of the Russian Revolution

    In the decade preceding the Russian Revolution of 1918, the Russian religious renaissance1 had reached a certain maturity, marked by several major publications. The collective book Vekhi (Signposts) (1909) contains contributions by seven leading representatives of the Russian religious renaissance, including four former Marxist philosophers who had returned to Christianity: Nicolas Berdyaev (1874–1948), Sergius Bulgakov (1871–1944), Simeon Frank (1877–1954), and Peter Struve (1870–1944).2 In the words of Simeon Frank, Vekhi ‘asserted the necessity of a religious foundation for any consistent philosophy of life, and at the same time sharply criticised the revolutionary and maximalist tendencies of the radically-minded Russian intelligentsia.'


    1.

    The classic study, still unparalleled, of the Russian religious renaissance is Nicolas Zernov, Τhe Russian Religious Renaissance of the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper & Row, 1963).

    2.

    There are two English translations of Vekhi: Boris Shragin and Albert Todd, eds, Landmarks: A Collection of Essays on the Russian Intelligentsia, 1909, trans. Marian Schwartz (New York: Karz Howard, 1977); and Marshall S. Shatz and Judith E. Zimmerman, trans. and eds, Vekhi: Landmarks: A Collection of Articles about the Russian Intelligentsia (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1994). For a summary of the Vekhi essays, see Zernov, The Russian Religious Renaissance, 111–130; and Christopher Read, Religion, Revolution and the Russian Intelligentsia, 1900–1912: The Vekhi Debate and Its Intellectual Background (London: Macmillan, 1979), 106–120.

  • What is Sophia? Bulgakov, or the Biblical Trinity between Kant and Hegel
    Nikolaos Loudovikos (read abstract)
    Professor of Dogmatics and Philosophy, University Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki;
    Visiting Professor, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, UK;
    Research Fellow, University of Winchester, UK

    This paper aims at showing how strong is Hegel’s influence upon the very formation of Bulgakov’s Trinitarian metaphysics, serving as a correction to Kant’s metaphysical closedness, as the Russian theologian understands the latter. It focuses upon the Hegelian coordinates of Bulgakov’s understanding of Divine subjectivity, dealing especially with his concept of Revelation. Finally, it tries positively to apply other possible terms in order to move Sophiology beyond the limits of German Idealism.

    I

    It is more than possible that if you put the above question even to some of the most fervent exponents of Bulgakov’s theology, you will receive more than one answer. Most of the scholars who dealt with this confined themselves to gathering the nuances and differentiations of this concept dispersed in the eminent Russian theologian’s writings, without being able to give a final comprehensive definition. It is also possible that even Bulgakov himself would not be able to make a clear-cut statement concerning the essence of his beloved term, which he inherited from his Russian mentor Pavel Florenski (who had taken it from Soloviev).

    It must be admitted that, in modern times, Sophia has been a sort of idiosyncratic Russian theological concept; it is a concept with deep cultural roots both in Russian thought and art, and also in a specific Russian paganism.1 Of course, a certain ancient Sophiological doctrine exists already in Augustine, in the Thirteenth Book of his Confessions. Sophia here is eternal but not uncreated, she is a superior spiritual creature, created before all the other creatures , before even the beginning of time; she is not the uncreated divine Sophia, identical with God’s essence, through which the earth and heaven were made, but she is the ‘created Sophia’, which ‘con- templates the divine light’, and thus remains unalterable, through God’s love for her.


    1.

    The magic and pagan elements in Soloviev’s thought, along with his erotic utopia, his estheticism, and his theurgic devotion, have been well described, between others, by B. Zenkovsky, in his Histoire de la philosophie russe, Tome II (Paris: Gallimard 1955), 57–71.

  • Exile, Hospitality, Sobornost: the Experience of the Russian Émigrés
    Andrew Louth (read abstract)
    Professor Emeritus, Durham University, UK

    The exile of members of the Russian intelligentsia not acceptable to the Bolsheviks can be seen as one of the unintentionally creative events of the last century for Orthodox theology. In exile, the Russians had to make sense of their experience of Orthodoxy, no longer at home in the place where they found them- selves—for most of them, Paris. The political structures of Tsarist Russia, which had provided a scaffolding for the Russian Orthodox Church, had been removed, and with that an institutional sense of the Church as existing in symphonia with the State: an ecclesiology that went back, ultimately, to the emperor Constantine’s conversion and the close relationship between Church and State, envisaged by Justinian’s Codex and Novels. Some, especially Fr Afanasiev, looked back behind the Constantinian settlement and evolved an ecclesiology that drew on the Slavophil sense of sobornost′, interpreted in terms of the eucharist as the event of the Church, the influential ‘eucharistic ecclesiology’. Exile encountered hospitality offered by Western Christians interested in, and sometimes attracted to, Orthodoxy, two examples of which being the short-lived colloque convened by Nicholas Berdyaev and the Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain, and the still existing Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius. Exile was, however, for many a traumatic experiences, causing great suffering, and however much diaspora was seen as an opportunity, there remained for many a deep nostalgia for the loss of Holy Russia.

     

    In his essay, ‘Two Cities’, the Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski makes a distinction between what he calls the settled, the emigrants, and the homeless. He explains the difference between these three categories thus:

    Settled people die where they were born; sometimes one sees country homes in which multiple generations of the same family lived. Emigrants make their homes abroad and thus make sure that at least their children will once again belong to the category of settled people (who speak another language). An emigrant, therefore, is a temporary link, a guide who takes future generations by the hand and leads them to another, safe place, or so it appears to him.

    A homeless person, on the other hand, is someone who, by accident, caprice of fate, his own fault, or the fault of his temperament did not want—or was incapable in his childhood or early youth of forging—close and affectionate bonds with the surroundings in which he grew and matured. To be homeless, therefore, does not mean that one lives under a bridge or on the platform

  • The Reception of the Theology of the Russian Diaspora by the Greek Theology of the ‘60s: a Case Study
    Sotiris Mitralexis (read abstract)
    Princeton University, University of Winchester & City University of Istanbul

    This paper is the result of an interview with Christos Yannaras and aims to explore the impact of the theology of the Russian diaspora on the creative explosion in Greek Orthodox theology usually described as the ‘generation of the ‘60s’ through the eyes of one of its protagonists. My particular approach here is to look into how that protagonist thinks back to that encounter today, both in his personal development and in his assessment of the theological landscape.

    The aim of this paper is to explore the impact of the theology of the Russian diaspora on the creative explosion in Greek Orthodox theology usually described as the ‘generation of the ‘60s’; however, my particular approach here is to look into how the protagonists of that generation think back to that encounter today, both in their personal development and in their assessment of the theological landscape. To that end, my initial intention was to interview both Christos Yannaras and the Metropolitan of Pergamon, John Zizioulas, as the living protagonists of the Greek theological renewal. However, Christos Yannaras’s 31 December 2017 interview provided me with an abundance of material to which I would not do justice were I to try to squeeze it into the first part of a two-part paper; this being the case, I opted here to present Christos Yannaras’s take on his, and Greek theology’s, encounter with the Russian diaspora. I remain with the hope that an interview with the Metropolitan of Pergamon shall follow in the near future. Given that this is the context of this paper, I should stress that it does not claim to be a research paper but, rather than that, precisely what it is—a snapshot of how these protagonists of the Greek theological revival remember today their encounter with the ideas and figures of the Russian diaspora. Thus, any descriptions of persons or events reflect the protagonist’s take on these persons and events rather than my own research on the matter.

    Christos Yannaras

    Some background on the state of theology and public Christian discourse in Greece during Yannaras’s youth, with which most of you are already familiar:

  • Nicholas Zernov: Political and Historical Continuity with the ‘Third Rome’ Theory in our Times
    Dimitris Salapatas (read abstract)
    Visiting Early Career Fellow, University of Winchester

    This article examines the idea of Moscow as Third Rome as it was advocated by Nicolas Zernov, a twentieth century Russian Orthodox ecumenist. It is promoted by many, mainly by members of the Russian Orthodox Church, but also contested by many Orthodox as fallacious, problematic, and not in keeping with the tradition of the Orthodox Church. It is a topic that has been advocated for centuries up to the present day. With the migration of the Russian intelligentsia to the West, this idea travelled with them, promoted now not only to the Orthodox but also to other Christians, who accept this idea as fact. But how does it affect current ecumenical relations? Nicolas Zernov promoted this idea to Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians in Great Britain through his own academic work and through the work of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, an ecumenical body located in Great Britain, but which has numerous branches around the world. Whether this theory creates problems for modern-day Orthodoxy will be analysed in this article.

    Is there a Third Rome? What does this mean for inter-Orthodox relations? What does this mean for modern-day Orthodoxy? Is it an important belief or idea? Who believes it? These and many more questions arise when one thinks of Moscow as the Third Rome. It is promoted by many, mainly by members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and also contested by many Orthodox as fallacious, problematic, and not true to the tradition of the Orthodox Church, as will be evident in this article. It is a topic which has been promoted for centuries up to the present day. With the migration of the Russian intelligentsia to the West, this idea travelled with them, promoted now not only to the Orthodox but also to other Christians, who accept this idea as an established Orthodox belief. But how does it affect current ecumen- ical relations? Nicolas Zernov promoted this idea to Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians in Great Britain through his own academic work and through the work of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, an ecumenical body located in Great Britain, but which has numerous branches around the world.

    The Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius is an unofficial body promoting relations between Anglicans and Orthodox; ‘it numbers among its members some

  • Faith and Reason in Russian Religious Thought: Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky and the contemporary debate about onto-theology and fideism
    Christoph Schneider (read abstract)
    Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies

    This study investigates the relationship between faith and reason in two of the major works of Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov: The Pillar and Ground of the Truth (1914) and Unfading Light (1917). The essay relates Florensky’s and Bulgakov’s philosophical theologies to the ongoing debate about on- to-theology and fideism in Western philosophy and theology. The transition from onto-theology to fideism has been characterized by the French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux as a gradual de-absolutization of the law of identity and the law of sufficient reason. This theory is exemplified with reference to the work of Leibniz, Kant, and Heidegger. It is then explored whether Florensky’s and Bulgakov’s theological contributions can enable us to envisage a ‘third way’ that overcomes the dilemma between religious rational- ism and religious irrationalism. Both thinkers argue—though in different ways—that faith and reason are interdependent, and that the experiential and intuitive character of faith is incomplete without the rational scrutiny of Christian philosophy.

    In this essay I explore what Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov have to contribute to the contemporary debate about faith and reason.1 I will mainly look at The Pillar and Ground of the Truth and Unfading Light.2 The Pillar was published in 1914, and Unfading Light just three years later, and there is in some respects a close connection between these two works of Orthodox theology and philosophy. Before I turn to Bulgakov and Florensky, I will give a brief overview of the two most radical positions regarding the relationship between faith and reason: religious rationalism—or on- to-theology, to use Heidegger’s famous term, and fideism—the belief that faith is independent of, or even adversarial to reason.3 Forms of religious rationalism were


    1.

    I am reusing material from Christoph Schneider, ‘Au-delà des limites de la raison: réflexions sur l’ouvrage de Paul Florensky La Colonne et le Fondement de la Vérité (1914)’, Contacts. Revue orthodoxe de théologie et de spiritualité 65.1 (2013): 89–100.

    2.

    Павел А. Флоренский, Столп и утверждение истины (Москва: Правда, 1990); Pavel Florensky, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth. An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters, trans. Boris Jakim (Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1997); Сергей Булгаков, Свет невечерний. Созерцания и умозрения (Москва: Республика, 1994); Sergius Bulgakov, Unfading Light: Contemplations and Speculations, trans. Thomas Allan Smith (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: W.B. Eerdmans, 2012). The first page number always refers to the Russian original, followed by the English translation after the slash.

    3.

    Martin Heidegger, ‘Die onto-theo-logische Verfassung der Metaphysik’, in Identität und Differenz (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 2006), 51–79; Thomas D. Carroll, ‘The traditions of deism’, Religous Studies 44.1 (2008): 1–22. It goes without saying that there is a wide range of positions between these two extreme poles. Moreover, both onto-theology and deism are umbrella terms that denote theological and philosophical tendencies, rather than clearly de ned approaches.

  • The Quest for Novel Philosophy of Freedom in the Thought of Nikolai Berdyaev, Vladimir Lossky and Georges Florovsky
    Dionysios Skliris (read abstract)
    National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

    This study attempts to examine novel approaches to the subject of divine and human freedom by certain eminent Russian thinkers of the diaspora. In the first place, a brief survey of the evolution of the notion of freedom in modernity tries to show that its very conceptualization, as well as its relation to nature, changed in relation to the Patristic era. The Russians of the diaspora experienced extreme consequences of the ‘programme of modernity’, such as the Bolshevik revolution that led to their exile, but also the crises of the societies in which they found refuge. They were thus put into conditions that demanded novel historical reflection in a quest to find their own particular voice that would offer an alternative to the different versions of the programme of modernity. An Orthodox notion of freedom that would be different from both socialist collectivism and liberal capitalism, without however glorifying the medieval past, was urgent. In this paper we shall observe the experimentation of Nikolai Berdyaev with the notion of the Ungrund and of Georges Florovsky with that of the podvig, as well as the very original use of the Patristic term hyperousion by Vladimir Lossky. We shall also examine the notion of freedom in relation to creative artistic genius, to mystical transcendence, and to historical contingency.

    Introduction: The modern evolution in the notion of freedom

    What is important in the thought of the Russians of the diaspora is that they tried to respond to novel questions which did not exist as such in the Byzantine and Patristic era. From the fall of Constantinople until the end of the nineteenth century, many philosophical, but also scientific, technological, economical and civilizational changes occurred. The leading Russian theologians of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century did not just try to recover a medieval tradition. Their endeavour was to encounter the actual problems of modernity and then indulge in tradition as a possible way out of modern impasses.

    Among the particular philosophical and other changes that occurred especially in the West from the end of Byzantium until the nineteenth century, one can briefly mention the following in relation to the evolution of the notion of freedom:1


    1.

    For this brief sketch, I am inspired mainly by the following works: Panagiotis Kondylis, Η Κριτική της Μεταφυσικής στη Νεότερη Σκέψη: Από τον όψιμο Μεσαίωνα ως το τέλος του Διαφωτισμού (Αθήνα: Γνώση, 1983); Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); Marios Begzos, Νεοελληνική Φιλοσοφία της Θρησκείας (Aθήνα: Ελληνικά Γράμματα,1998); Nikolaos Loudovikos, Η κλειστή πνευματικότητα και το νόημα του εαυτού: Ο μυστικισμός της ισχύος και η αλήθεια φύσεως και προσώπου (Aθήνα: Ελληνικά Γράμματα,1999).