A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN OLD-ORTHODOX CHURCH
PART 1 OF 12
Edited by G. Chistyakova
Baptism of Russia
THE BAPTISM of Russia during holy equal-to-the-apostles great prince Vladimir's lifetime in 988 was the outstanding event of our history. Along with the baptism, Russia took all Gospel, apostolic and patristic traditions sacred to the storied Eastern Church. The closest of connections were established between the young Russian church and the Constantinople Patriarchate. Greeks were the first Russian metropolitans. They as the representatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople watched the piety of the newly installed customs and practices. The very fact of the patronage above the Russian Metropolitan shows that the church regulations, divine services, sacraments and rites were borrowed form the Orthodox Church of the East.
In the early days, services in temples and monasteries of the Russian church were conducted according to the Studite liturgical statute [typikon]. This statute received wide acceptance because of the high importance of the Studion monastery founded in the year 463 in Constantinople at the Church of John Baptist. This monastery in the course of short time became one of the main spiritual and liturgical centers of orthodoxy. This monastery acquired singular value during the epoch of the iconoclasm, when the monks of monastery were the most zealous defenders of icon veneration. Studite regulations (typikon) prepared by Constantinople Patriarch Aleksy were brought to Russia in 1065. He also glorified the renowned Old-Russian St. Theodosius Pecherskiy as a saint. From Kiev, the Studite regulations were extended along other cities and abodes of our country. In the 14th century during the service of the metropolitans of Fotiya and Cypriana, the Russian divine services began to gravitate towards another eastern regulation - Jerusalem. It, first of all, reflects the liturgical practice of the ancient monastery of the Holy Land. The authors of the Jerusalem typikon are considered to be Saints Savva Osvyashchenny and Efim Velikiy. In the 15th century, the Jerusalem typikon obtained a certain advantage in the Russian church. One of the first translations of the Jerusalem regulations into the Slav language was completed at the end of the 14th century by the student of Saint Sergius Radonezh - Saint Afanasy Vysotsky, by the founder of the Vysotsky monastery in Serpukhov. This regulation obtained the designation “eye of the church” [“oko tserkovnoe”]. The co-existence in Russia of two regulations not only did not interfere with the order of divine service, but even enriched the liturgical life of our church. Especially important is the fact that the all ancient typikons, in contrast to contemporary ones, completely preserved the early-Christian dogmatic, symbolic and ontological sense of divine service. Well-known scholar academician E. Golubinskiy believes that the Jerusalem and Studite regulations are only variations of general ancient-orthodox regulations, and “are characterized by not so much chinoposledovaniyami [??] themselves, as by time and manner of their accomplishments”.
Along with the transfer of liturgical regulations into the Russian church from Byzantium passes the ancient tradition of liturgical singing. In the 10th century a Greek osmoglasie [??] style developed in the form of monotone or unison singing which defined the entire style of Christian hymns. In Russia, the Christian monotone osmoglasie [??] is called “cherubic”, according to the legends of the saints hearing the holy angels singing. In the course of a short time Christian church singing penetrated all corners of our country. Already in the 11th century at Russia appear raspevy [??] dedicated to the domestic saints. Unknown Russian authors by the 15th- 17th centuries create the huge amount of forms of pesnopeniy [??]: travelling, stolpovoy [??], large and small sign demestvenny [??], Novgorod, Pskov and many others. Possessing significant variety, Russian sacred music nevertheless remained for hundreds of years in the present Christian church, distant from the influence of fashionable secular flows.
The Publishing Business
In the life of the Old-Russian church the book occupied an especially significant place. Before the invention of printing, the liturgical books, the works of holy fathers, lives of the saints, theological and other spiritual literature were valued by their weight in gold. The contribution of the book to the monastery or the temple frequently was equal to the cost of land it was put on. The high craftsmanship of the ancient manuscript and the uncommonly deferential attitude to the book by the people, made its production an extremely honorable occupation. Books were even written about princes. So for example, it is established that liturgical books were copied that dealt with Prince Vladimir Galitsky, and several liturgical texts rewrote the life of Tsar Ivan IV Grozny [the Terrible]. Each page, each paragraph, each proposal, each letter of the book was thoroughly compared during a census. In the Old-Russian manuscript books there were many less errors than in the contemporary book of misprints. To spoil the book for the Old-Russian rukopistsa [copyist?] would tarnish all their activities. In the18th-19th centuries, church and secular historians formed a theory about the allegedly blatant illiteracy which prevalied in Russia in the 10th-16th centuries. The overwhelming majority of the population of Kiev, and then Moscow Russia was illiterate according to the opinion of such “scientists”. A small quantity of semiliterate people were occupied by written office management, and simultaneously copied spiritual literature. In this case into the liturgical books fell many errors, errors and even fabrications of these ignoramuses.
Today this pseudo-scientific opinion is completely disproved. In the course of impartial historical research in the 20th century, it was established that the very substantial part of the population of ancient Russia was literate. Archaeologists could find on the site of ancient cities and populated areas, thousands of birch bark certificates with records belonging to commoners. After the philological analysis of Old-Russian liturgical texts, the scientists drew the conclusion that their translators and compilers know the wide layers of the literature of the Christian east. The academician of RAN [Russian Academy of Science], V. Kirillin, conducted a tedious study of some canons of lenten and colored Triodions of the first half of the 15th century. It turned out that many texts of that time were philological more competent than contemporary ones, are more transparent for the perception and are theologically reconciled. A scientist characterizes the Old-Russian compiler of Lenten Triodion thusly: “There is an obvious and striking theological and philological culture, and a deep (Christian) understanding of unknown editor”. Sometimes the literary achievements of the ancient Russian church proved to be unprecedented throughout entire orthodox east. So in 1490, Novgorod archbishop Gennadiy's efforts for the first time in the history of eastern Christianity created a manuscript bible.
Contemporary scientists have proved also that discrepancies found in the ancient manuscripts were produced not by the ignorance of compilers and by their supposed fraudulent intent, but by the extraordinary complexity of the book, and by the absence of the possibility of rapidly checking out one questionable place or another. However, concerning differences in the ancient divine service, their reason was the co-existence of the Studite and Jerusalem regulations, which were discussed above. Let us note, however, that all this was not a special concern. The correction of errors, and the considerable improvement of various controversies took place gradually, publicly and only after serious study of the problem. In certain cases such questions were solved in the course of local church councils. Thus, for instance, the sobor of 1551 decided to correct punctuation marks, and at the sobor of 1619 after a thorough study it was decided to withdraw from holy-water prayers at Epiphany the incorrect addition “and by fire”. The appearance of a first-printed “apostle” Ivan Fedorov became a landmark stage in the life of the Russian state. The book became more accessible and available. Printed matter especially bloomed strongly with the Patriarchs Filaret and Joseph. Tsars and pious patriarchs, worrying about the completeness of divine service, generously sent the books to churches without any commercial benefit. The old publication books to this day remain the standard of publishing quality, a model for the font and artistic imitation.
A new phenomenon in Orthodoxy was the appearance of a printed bible in 1581. The so-called Ostrog Bible became the first printed bible in the entire orthodox eastern world. A Greek printed Bible appeared only in 1821, was even then it was printed in Moscow. The first-printed bible was created because of the efforts of pious prince Constantine Ostrozhskiy, who was patron of the printing affair of Ivan Fedorov. The composition of the Ostrog Bible used a huge amount of resources brought from Russia, Greece and other countries. The text of this Bible was a close as possible to the original Greek, and the division into chapters of the Old Testament corresponded to ancient Jewish models.http://oldbelievers.wetpaint.com/page/Part+1