Gladstone: A Theologian, Scientist, or Both?

John Hall Gladstone’s interest in science and religion began during his childhood. He and his three brothers were tutored throughout their youth. They became quite interested in natural science through this education. Gladstone furthered his interest in science while attending chemistry lectures during his time at University College London. Additionally, during his adolescence, he held a great passion for religion and claimed he wanted to work for the ministry. In 1850, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, a prestigious group of European scientists who contributed a fair amount of research and work to the natural sciences.… Read the rest here

Domostroi 1-11

Chapers 1-11 of the Domostroi focus on themes of social hierarchy as well as the presence of a loving, merciful God. Chapter 1 instructs men to teach Christian values to their children, wives, and servants, in order to spread God’s will. As a testament to God being loving and forgiving, servants are never to be reprimanded with physical harm but with warmth and kindness. Chapter 2 through chapter 5 elaborate on the practices and values held within the orthodox faith.… Read the rest here

Novgorod Chronicle and Mongol Invasion

The Novgorod Chronicle presents the Mongol invasion as a punishment sent by God. The Mongols invaded because the princes were selfish and fought against one another, disobeying both their father and God. The Chroniclers write that the Devil himself is responsible for inciting this discord among the princes.

The Chronicle lessens the importance of the Mongol’s role in the invasion because God is named as the one pulling all of the strings. God allowed the Mongols attack as punishment for the people’s sins.… Read the rest here

Conflicting Ideas in Christianization of Rus

The author’s opinion of Christianity and Paganism is made clear in the first paragraph of The Christianization of Rus’ According to the Primary Chronicle, in which pagan idols are referred to as “devils” and Russia pre-Christianization was a land “defiled with blood”. As Vladimir is visited by representatives of different faiths, it is again beaten into the reader that Christianity is the only reasonable choice.

Not only do followers of Islam not drink wine, but most of what they say is “false” and crude.… Read the rest here

State-Building in Post-Kievan Rus’

These readings illustrate the diverging types of states that developed after the fall of Kiev, and geography is a main factor in the separation of different governments.  Novgorod and the north attempted to establish restrictions to princely power and set up a system of elections and assemblies to limit the influence of the elites.  In the southwest, the elites had more power than the prince, who was subject to the will of the boyars.  Finally, in Moscow and the northeast, princely power grew and became more entrenched as land rights were transformed into personal property.  … Read the rest here

The Roots and Growth of Christianity in Early Rus

Something that I found to be particularly interesting is the manner in which Christianity came to Rus compared to the power that the church wields in Russia today.
Pages sixty-three to sixty-seven paint a very clear picture of the real purpose for the introduction of Christianity to Rus. It’s made quite clear that Vladimir wanted to bring Greek Orthodoxy to Rus because it was a religion that could bring him greater wealth, influence, and power than he currently possessed, but he didn’t have to sacrifice much for it.… Read the rest here

Jesus Christ as the Ideal Christian Figure

The Orthodox Church’s notion of the ideal Christian was a person as close to Christ himself as it was possible for a human to be. The stories of historical figures idealized by the church display this both in their actions and in the situations which they lived in.

The Life of Theodosius, for example, contains many parallels to the life of Jesus Christ. In Childhood, Jesus was supposedly an extraordinary student (Luke 2:41-52), but we can also assume that he was not the awesome and powerful figure that he would later become from the fact that so little exists documenting his early life.… Read the rest here

St. Theodosius: The Ideal Rus Christian

St. Theodosius (or Feodosii, as he is called in Life) is portrayed to be on the far side of Christian devotion. The text portrays Feodosii as an idyllic Christian, able to purge himself of any and all earthly needs and desires. From a young age, he appears to be completely and utterly devoted to God. Feodosii wore ragged, patched clothes and preferred to study divine books, rather than playing with children. Life provided any Rus citizen with the perfect painting of what it meant to be a Christian, while simultaneously setting the bar so high that it appears no Rus citizen could ever compare.… Read the rest here

The “Ideal Christian,” according to Feodosii

The Life of St. Theodosius teaches us that the Russian Orthodox Church had nearly impossible standards for the “Ideal Christian.” According to the Chronicles, St. Theodosius–also known as Feodosii–was a child whose love for God led him to withstand a life of social exclusion and horrible abuse from his mother. Feodosii’s mother continuously bought him nice clothes, but he always gave them away to the poor, preferring not to exhibit his own wealth in order to be closer to God.… Read the rest here

Gender in Rus Society

After having compared the  Pravda Russkaia with the Statute of Iaroslav, their treatment towards the subject of gender, women in particular, is not only apparent but different from each other as well. Specifically speaking, although both texts clearly state that women within society are more heavily governed, the methods which each text states are different.

Through out the Statute of Iaroslav the text clearly and consistently focuses on women in terms of sexuality. The text in particular focuses on laws around subjects including marriage, divorce, adultery, and cheating.… Read the rest here