Russian Christian Social Thought: A Survey of Basic Sources

Dissertation, State University of New York at Stony Brook (1988)

This dissertation provides an overview of Russian religious philosophy and its inherent orientation of social concern. Particular emphasis is placed on how this orientation has developed and expanded in Russian philosophy and theology. ;The survey is intended to highlight an aspect of Russian culture little-known except to those with a specialized interest in this area. The major figures and principal currents of Russian religious thought demonstrating an ethical social direction are introduced here to help formulate and guide an inter-disciplinary seminar. Such a seminar would have as its primary goal and focus the introduction of Russian religious philosophy to graduate students of Russian, Philosophy, Theology and/or Religious Studies. ;Both the problematic and the themes of this dissertation are presented in the form of an examination of the works of important representatives of the tradition of Russian religious philosophy and theology who have commented extensively on the Russian intellectual and religious traditions. An extensive discussion of the ethical social philosophy of Berdyaev, a central figure in this current of Russian thought, is supplemented with critical analyses of Zenkovsky, Lossky, Copleston, Evdokimov and Zernov. Berdyaev's role in the Russian Religious tradition as well as the importance of his personalist socialism is interpreted through the works of Levitsky, Lieb, Calian, Coste, etc. The theological implications of Berdyaev's views are highlighted by his discussion of modern protestantism. ;The interrelation of Christian social praxis and Bulgakov's treatment of God-manhood is discussed and interpretations of his thought by Evdokimov, Berdyaev, Putnam, etc. are presented. ;Practical and political activity deriving from the tradition of Russian religious philosophy, together with an agenda for Orthodox social concern are treated in a discussion of Mother Marii a and Fedotov. The theological impact of Russian Christian social thought is examined in a survey of Russian contributions to eucharistic theology. Particular emphasis is placed on Paul Evdokimov's christological and eschatological studies, which continue the development of a Russian Christian social theology with a marked relevance to contemporary world social and political problems. ;This dissertation stresses the practical orientation of Russian religious social thought, its relevance to the situation of the contemporary world, its contribution to ecumenical theology and its own unique theological development. This survey concludes with suggestions of possible further work to provide additional pedagogical materials
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