Synopses & Reviews
By the early twentieth century, a genuine renaissance of religious thought and a desire for ecclesial reform were emerging in the Russian Orthodox Church. With the end of tsarist rule and widespread dissatisfaction with government control of all aspects of church life, conditions were ripe for the Moscow Council of 1917-1918 to come into being.and#160; The council was a major event in the history of the Orthodox Church. After years of struggle for reform against political and ecclesiastical resistance, the bishops, clergy, monastics, and laity who formed the Moscow Council were able to listen to one other and make sweeping decisions intended to renew the Russian Orthodox Church. Council members sought change in every imaginable areaand#151;from seminaries and monasteries, to parishes and schools, to the place of women in church life and governance. Like Vatican II, the Moscow Council emphasized the mission of the church in and to the world.
Destivelleand#8217;s study not only discusses the council and its resolutions but also provides the historical, political, social, and cultural context that preceded the council. In the only comprehensive and probing account of the council, he discusses its procedures and achievements, augmented by substantial appendices of translated conciliar documents.and#160; Tragically, due to the Revolution, the council's decisions could not be implemented to the extent its members hoped. Despite current trends in the Russian church away from the Moscow Counciland#8217;s vision, the counciland#8217;s accomplishments remain as models for renewal in the Eastern churches.
"Destivelle's study is a much needed and timely examination of the historic All-Russia Church Council of 1917-1918and#151;a council that marked both the culmination and the beginning of a new epoch in modern Russian Orthodoxy. The English translation of the council's definitions and decrees, as well as the 'Statute of the Local Council of the Orthodox Church of All Russia,' along with Destivelle's exceptional commentary and annotations, will remain a foundational work for scholars and students of modern Christianity and Orthodoxy, as well as for scholars and students of Russian history for decades to come." and#151;Vera Shevzov, Smith College
About the Author
Hyacinthe Destivelle, O.P.
, is Official at the Oriental Section of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican.
Michael Plekon is professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and in the Program in Religion and Culture at Baruch College of the City University of New York.
Vitaly Permiakov is on the faculty of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, New York.
Jerry Ryan, translator, is an independent scholar.