Andrey V. Ivanov, A Spiritual Revolution: The Impact of Reformation and Enlightenment in Orthodox Russia, 1700-1825 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020).
Ivanov’s book demonstrates the far-reaching impact the Protestant Reformation and European Enlightenment had on Russian church and society in the eighteenth century. It is the first monograph to fully explore how Western ideas influenced the Russian Church in this period. The monograph thus makes a major contribution to the intellectual history of the Russian Orthodox Church. Supported by extensive archival work in Germany, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, and the Vatican, Ivanov makes a compelling case for the impact of the Reformation and the Enlightenment—in their diversified geographical expressions—on Orthodox Russia, challenging enduring assumptions about Russia’s isolation and cultural stagnation. Ivanov presents the reader with engaging portraits of the clerical elites—mainly Orthodox bishops from the newly incorporated Ruthenian lands—who promoted a “spiritual revolution” that altered Russia’s traditional ecclesiastical and political landscape. Like the protagonists of his study, Ivanov himself brings new perspectives to what we know about Russian Orthodoxy in the eighteenth century. Above its outstanding empirical contribution, the book also puts forth a concise critical framework for conceiving of Orthodoxy that could significantly revise how scholars write about Russian religious history. In particular, Ivanov explores Russian Orthodox tradition from the perspectives of what he calls “contestation” and “variety”, which allow the reader to appreciate Orthodoxy as something that is both constantly evolving and constantly various in terms of its doctrines, preaching, and ethics.
Valerie A. Kivelson and Christine D. Worobec (ed.), Witchcraft in Russia and Ukraine, 1000–1900: A Sourcebook (Northern Illinois University Press, 2020).
Kivelson and Worobec’s book is an annotated English-language anthology of sources relating to the persecution of suspected witches in predominantly Orthodox regions of Russia and Ukraine. The book not only makes little-known sources available together for the first time in English, but it also makes accessible a wealth of archival materials never published before in any language. The book is the result of an enormous scholarly undertaking, and it makes a significant, interdisciplinary contribution to the field of Early Slavic Studies, making archival materials accessible to historians working in diverse fields. The impressive range of sources is organized with the utmost coherence, both thematically and chronologically, and it is accompanied by succinct, thoughtful discussions of some of the main contextual and critical considerations relevant to the sources at hand, that impart crucial information without unduly imposing limits on the scope of the sources’ interpretation. The potential uses of this book are endless.