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Unity in Faith?

Edinoverie, Russian Orthodoxy, and Old Belief, 1800–1918

Established in 1800, edinoverie (translated as "unity in faith") was intended to draw back those who had broken with the Russian Orthodox Church over ritual reforms in the 17th century. Called Old Believers, they had been persecuted as heretics. In time, the Russian state began tolerating Old Believers in order to lure them out of hiding and make use of their financial resources as a means of controlling and developing Russia's vast and heterogeneous empire. However, the Russian Empire was also an Orthodox state, and conversion from Orthodoxy constituted a criminal act. So, which was better for ensuring the stability of the Russian Empire: managing heterogeneity through religious toleration, or enforcing homogeneity through missionary campaigns? Edinoverie remained contested and controversial throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, as it was distrusted by both the Orthodox Church and the Old Believers themselves. The state reinforced this ambivalence, using edinoverie as a means by which to monitor Old Believer communities and employing it as a carrot to the stick of prison, exile, and the deprivation of rights. In Unity in Faith?, James White's study of edinoverie offers an unparalleled perspective of the complex triangular relationship between the state, the Orthodox Church, and religious minorities in imperial Russia.

About the Author

James White is Senior Research Fellow at the Laboratory for the Study of Primary Sources and the Laboratory for Archaeographical Studies at Ural Federal University.

Reviews

"This book will appeal to the entire spectrum of those interested in Russian religious history, both those focusing on Orthodoxy and those focusing on Old Believers."—John Bushnell, author of Russian Peasant Women Who Refused to Marry: Spasovite Old Believers in the 18th–19th Centuries

"Unity in Faith? contributes to our understanding of the mostly fractious relationship between Orthodoxy and Old Belief; it also helps us understand the internal mission of Orthodoxy in the 19th–20th centuries and the relationship between the church and state in imperial Russia."—Roy R. Robson, author of Living Christianity in Twentieth Century Russia

"This book represents the first systematic study of edinoverie in the English-language scholarship. It offers a profound and well-documented overview of the historical development and forms of lived religiosity of edinoverie as a union project of the Orthodox Church in imperial Russia. For all those interested in issues of confessional identity, Eastern Christianity, and modern imperial history, Unity in Faith? will be an interesting read full of unexpected parallels to contemporary East European realities."—Liliya Berezhnaya, University of Münster

"James White has written an exceptional book. With rich detail and thoughtful insights, White presents the conundrum in which the Russian Church found itself after the Church Schism in the seventeenth century, trying to accommodate the confessional challenge posed by rival Old Belief. Based on a rich source base from the central and local archives, the book invites the reader to discover the "united faith," a story of religious, political and social compromise whose turbulent history sheds new light on the understanding of policies, churches, believers, theologians and politicians of the Russian Empire.  This is the first full-length study of the united faith in English, and it covers a considerable gap in the scholarly literature on Russian religious history."—Irina Paert, University of Tartu

"By bringing to life the long-neglected edinoverie, James White's vigorously argued book adds a further dimension to our understanding of religion in late imperial Russia, and puts our knowledge of Orthodoxy and the Old Belief into fresh perspective."—Simon Dixon, University College London

"Along the way, readers learn a great deal about the relationship between the Russian church and the state, and about the inner logics of a major religious schisms, whose lessons apply to Russian history and beyond. Religious history is often neglected in the history of late imperial Russia, and this book also helps to rectify that imbalance."—New Books Network

9780253049728 : unity-in-faith-white
Paperback / softback
286 Pages
$35.00 USD
9780253049704 : unity-in-faith-white
Hardback
286 Pages
$75.00 USD

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