Holy Rus' The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia John P. Burgess

Publication date:
04 Apr 2017
Yale University Press
280 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
10 b-w illus.
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A fascinating, vivid, and on-the-ground account of Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence

A bold experiment is taking place in Russia. After a century of being scarred by militant, atheistic communism, the Orthodox Church has become Russia’s largest and most significant nongovernmental organization. As it has returned to life, it has pursued a vision of reclaiming Holy Rus’: that historical yet mythical homeland of the eastern Slavic peoples; a foretaste of the perfect justice, peace, harmony, and beauty for which religious believers long; and the glimpse of heaven on earth that persuaded Prince Vladimir to accept Orthodox baptism in Crimea in A.D. 988.

Through groundbreaking initiatives in religious education, social ministry, historical commemoration, and parish life, the Orthodox Church is seeking to shape a new, post-communist national identity for Russia. In this eye-opening and evocative book, John Burgess examines Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence from a grassroots level, providing Western readers with an enlightening, inside look at the new Russia.

John P. Burgess teaches at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A Fulbright Scholar to Russia in 2011, he has travelled extensively within Russia, lived in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and made pilgrimage to some of Russian Orthodoxy’s most important monasteries, parishes, and holy sites.  He is the author of four other books on religious subjects and lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

”I loved this book because it echoes so much of my own experience and also explains and articulates in a very readable way how the church both sees itself, and is seen by others today.”—Rev Nichola Vidamour, Methodist Recorder

“Burgess records the extensive building programme of new churches, monasteries, and seminaries in a brief quarter of a century, but his emphasis, rightly, is more on the dedicated people who work in them. He records in-depth conversations and brings his characters, male and female, alive in a variety of settings . . . this book clothes the religious revival with rich substance.”—Michael Bourdeaux, Church Times

“Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia is an excellent work of scholarship based on the author’s extensive travels within Russia, close interaction with leading figures in the Russian Orthodox Church, a sound grasp of Russian history during the Soviet period, and a deep cross-confessional theological understanding.”— James W. Warhola, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

“Well-written and solid book” —Sergei Chapnin, Journal of Orthodox Christian Studies

“A book full of surprises. It seems God refuses to let Orthodoxy die in Russia. We owe Burgess much for making this story known.”—Stanley Hauerwas, author of The Work of Theology

“Both sympathetic and sober, this insightful study of Orthodox Christianity in today’s Russia is essential for anyone wanting to understand Russia’s quest for spiritual sanity and integrity in the midst of the deformations of the past and present.”—The Very Reverend Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America

“Burgess is a careful observer and his illuminating descriptions of places and people give this book a personal immediacy. Thoughtful, fresh, and judicious, Holy Rus’ will be of interest to anyone invested in the fate of religion in developed, industrialized countries.”— Nigel Biggar, University of Oxford

"This is an excellent, readable, deeply informed, and sympathetic but distanced account by a trusted scholar.  For a decade, John Burgess has steeped himself in Russian Orthodox practice and has now written a timely and indispensable book for those wanting to understand modern Russia."— Iain R. Torrance, Princeton Theological Seminary

Holy Rus’ is a vivid, detailed account of the institutions and personalities that shape Russian Orthodoxy today. Everyone who wants to understand Russia’s past or to anticipate its future should read this book.”—Robin W. Lovin, Southern Methodist University