Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov: Orthodox Theology in a New Key

Article excerpt

Paul Valliere. Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov: Orthodox Theology in a New Key. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000. x, 443 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $42.00, cloth.

In the past ten years, long forgotten or repressed ideas have re-emerged in the area of theology, just as they have in all areas of Russian thought. The collapse of communism has given the Russian Orthodox Church a great opportunity to reform itself and review its thinking and traditions. But as Paul Valliere, McGregor Professor of Humanities at Butler University, argues, "reformers need landmarks." In Modern Russian Theology, Professor Valliere reveals the landmarks that he believes are most appropriate. He looks back to the "Russian School" of Orthodox theology, which lasted from the 1860s to the 1930s. As he points out, the proponents of the Russian School attempted to relate Orthodoxy to the problems of modern life. This effort marked a decisive shift from the older Patristic tradition of the Russian Church, but was short-lived, since by the mid-twentieth century, the Neopatristic school had come to dominate Russian theology. Professor Valliere argues that contemporary Russian thinkers who want the Church to speak about contemporary issues will not find much of value in the writing of the Neopatristic scholars and should instead turn to the Russian School. He reviews the writing of three members of the school-Alexander Bukharev (1824-71), Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900), and Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944), chosen because in chronological terms they represent the beginning, middle, and end of the era of the Russian School.

The book is divided into three parts, each devoted to one of the three writers. Valliere gives some brief biographical details of the writers, but most of the book consists of a detailed analysis of their major works. …

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