A History of the Church in Ukraine, Volume I: To the End of the Thirteenth Century

By Bilaniuk, Petro B. T. | The Catholic Historical Review, October 1997 | Go to article overview

A History of the Church in Ukraine, Volume I: To the End of the Thirteenth Century


Bilaniuk, Petro B. T., The Catholic Historical Review


A History of the Church in Ukraine, Volume I: To the End of the Thirteenth Century. By Sophia Senyk. [Orientalia Christiana Analecta, Volume 243.] (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Orientale. 1993. Pp. xvi, 471. Paperback.)

The author is a Basilian Sister of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and a full professor of church history at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome.This volume constitutes real progress in the area of ecclesiastical historiography of ScythiaRus'-Ukraine In it we find responsible care in the use of the original sources, combined with objective and scholarly judgments.There is no national ethnic or confessional prejudice or partisanship-so common among historians writing on Eastern Slavic church-related topics.

However, there are some deficiencies. On page 8, the author has written: "though the Apostle Andrew did not travel through Rus' . . " and she upholds the "legend of the Apostle Andrew. Today we must revise the historiography on St. Andrew in Scythia, for there is very strong evidence of his presence all round the Black Sea.The biblical, archaeological, patristic, conciliar, hagiographical, historical, and monastic evidence for a Christian presence in Scythia-Rus'-Ukraine from apostolic times to St.Volodymyr has been assembled and reviewed in my book: The Apostolic Origin of the Ukrainian Church (Parma, Ohio, 1988).We only offer a few highlights here.

Colossians 3:11 implies that St. Paul met Scythians who were Christians. Both St. Hippolytus in On the Twelve Apostles and Origen, quoted by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, Book III, chap. 1, make it clear that the Holy Apostle Andrew received Scythia as his missionary territory. Tertullian in Adversus Judaeos, chap. 7, St. Athanasius in Concerning the Inhomization of the Word, chap. 51, St. Jerome in his Epistle to Laeta, and many other witnesses speak of Scythian Christians. St. Clement, Bishop of Rome, was banished and died in Crimea around 101 A.D. St. Martin I, Pope of Rome, was also banished to Crimea and died there in 655 A.D. St. Hermon, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the end of the third century, had jurisdiction over Scythia and ordained bishops for that region: Ephrem, Basil, Jepherius, and two others whose names are not preserved. In Tanais two churches have been uncovered: one from the first and one from the second century. Further, many Christian graves and burial sites from the second century are well documented.Thus in the face of early witnesses and subsequent commentary, we hold that the presence of St. Andrew in Scythia should be accepted as more than mere "legend."

In the case of Ukrainian Christianity, one might well see a fusion of possibly four apostolic traditions: (1) from St. Andrew personally; (2) from St. Peter, his brother, through Pope St. Clement; (3) from St. Paul, the Apostle of the nations, through St. Andronicus and his successors, down to SS. Cyril and Methodius; and (4) from St. James, brother of the Lord and first bishop of Jerusalem, through Hermon of Jerusalem, who ordained bishops for Chersonesus and other regions of Scythia.

The treatment of "The Pagan Religion of Rus'(preferably "Pre-Christian") consists of two and a half pages in which there are a few inaccuracies and shortcomings. …

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