Unity in Faith?

Unity in Faith?

Edinoverie, Russian Orthodoxy, and Old Belief, 1800–1918
James White
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04970-4
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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.

Author Bio

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.


"I think this manuscript, turned into a 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. And because the story is so interesting, it should find a broader readership in religious studies, beyond the Russian field."

 (John Bushnell, author of Russian Peasant Women Who Refused to Marry: Spasovite Old Believers in the 18th–19th Centuries)

"The manuscript will contribute to our understanding of the mostly fractious relationship between Orthodoxy and Old Belief; it will also help us to 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)

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Ritual and the Origins of Edinoverie
2. Edinoverie Transformed, 1801-1855
3. A "Step to Orthodoxy" No More, 1865-1886
4. Crisis, Reform, and Revolution, 1905-1918
5. Lived Edinoverie, 1825-1917
Conclusion: Decline, Disappearance, Reinvention
Appendix A: The Rules of Metropolitan Platon, 27 September 1800
Appendix B: Replacements for the Rules of Platon, 1917-1918