, Volume 64, Issue 3-4, pp 163-181
Date: 07 Nov 2012

What’s in God’s name: literary forerunners and philosophical allies of the imjaslavie debate

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The aim of this paper is to explore the interaction between a tradition that belongs originally to the realm of orthodox contemplative monasticism (i.e., hesychasm) and nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian intellectuals. In the first part, this paper will explore how hesychasm gradually penetrated nineteenth-century secular culture; a special focus will be on the hermitage of Optina Pustyn’ and its renowned elders, as well as their appeal to members of the Optina-intelligentsia, especially Fëdor Dostoevskij. Then, attention will shift to the imjaslavie controversy at the beginning of the twentieth century, which flared up initially as a dispute between Athonite monks and reached a sad culmination in 1912–1913 with a manu militari intervention by troops of the Russian Holy Synod. However, the debate was taken up by some prominent intellectuals of the Russian religious renaissance, such as Pavel Florenskij, Nikolaj Berdjaev, and Sergej Bulgakov, who explicitly sided with the imjaslavcy (“Glorifiers of the Name”) and actively stepped into the debate.