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Author Topic: Were some of Nikon's reforms unnecessary?  (Read 1348 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: March 27, 2009, 06:30:48 PM »

I've been recently reading a book "The Art and Architecture of Medieval Russia", as i've been trying to read up more on Orthodox architecture.

One of the things mentioned in the book, especially later on, are the Nikonian reforms, and the restrictions he put on Church design.

I haven't heard a lot about the Nikonian reforms, but some of the restrictions he wanted to put seemed a little rediculous, at least when it comes to church architecture.

Were some of his reforms unneccesarry or excessive? (just FYI, i definitely do not think any of them are grounds for schism by anyone, just posing a question)

Example, he banned a lot of the common practices in Russian architecture, like the tent being used directly above the church part of the structure. And required the churches take on more of a Byzantine/Greek flavor. (seeming to try and go back to how Church architecture in Russia first was) Of course, it ended up that his reforms created all new innovations in Russian architecture as the architects tried to cope w/o actually going backwards.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 06:32:51 PM by 88Devin12 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 07:23:38 PM »

My major source of reference in questions like this is the book by Prot. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, titled "The Historical Path of Orthodoxy" (its Rusian original, which I read, is here, http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/shmeman1/Main.htm). Fr. Alexander seems to be very critical to both sides, the Raskol'niks (those who went into schism because they did not agree with Nikon's reforms), and the "Nikoniane" (those who pursued the reforms). Nikon was, obviously, a troubled person, a megalomaniac who was obsessed with "things Greek" and hated what he thought was a "Russian perversion" with all his heart. His helpers, those who actually made the reform happen, were at times not terribly literate and used the help of very questionable "Greeks," occasionally even plain con artists who made an impression of "learned men." On the other side, there was a lot of fanaticism, and, importantly, messianism, the idea that the Rus' is now the "Third Rome" (as one monk, called Philotheus, put it, "two Romes existed and fell, the third (=Moscow) stands, the the forth will never be"), and that those Greeks were all cowards, perverts, traitors, etc. etc. etc.

The saddest thing was that the whole battle was about the RITE, not about the faith as such. Neither of the two sides looked anywhere deeper.
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2009, 07:55:34 PM »

I would check out Paul Meyendorff's Russia, Ritual and Reform. He makes the case that the translations made, as well as some of the liturgical reforms, were not based on ancient texts (i.e. the "correct" form), but on contemporary Greek usage that had strayed from more original forms. This is particularly true of the translations of certain liturgical texts which were clearly no more than a few hundred years old.
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2009, 08:36:03 PM »

I would check out Paul Meyendorff's Russia, Ritual and Reform. He makes the case that the translations made, as well as some of the liturgical reforms, were not based on ancient texts (i.e. the "correct" form), but on contemporary Greek usage that had strayed from more original forms. This is particularly true of the translations of certain liturgical texts which were clearly no more than a few hundred years old.

Even the Wiki (or OrthodoxWiki, I don't recall exactly) article on the subject makes the same claim; and it's got a nice (and hefty) reference section (in both English and Russian/Slavonic).
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 08:36:15 PM by cleveland » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 10:57:53 PM »

I would check out Paul Meyendorff's Russia, Ritual and Reform. He makes the case that the translations made, as well as some of the liturgical reforms, were not based on ancient texts (i.e. the "correct" form), but on contemporary Greek usage that had strayed from more original forms. This is particularly true of the translations of certain liturgical texts which were clearly no more than a few hundred years old.

Even the Wiki (or OrthodoxWiki, I don't recall exactly) article on the subject makes the same claim; and it's got a nice (and hefty) reference section (in both English and Russian/Slavonic).

Even better. I didn't find Meyendorff's book that enjoyable a read so wiki might be easier.  There are, however, useful comparison charts of the old usages, the contemporary Greek usage, and both the new and old Slavonic renderings pre and post reform.
Slightly off topic, but I would also highly recommend Roy Robson's Old Believers in Modern Russia for both the old believer rationale around the time of the schism as well as how they responded to their new religious freedoms that came with the 1905 state reforms. Basically, he argues that the Old Believers saw no real difference between the symbol and the symbolized, meaning essentially that the grace of God was present in the action/form itself of the old style and to change the form was to change the format for accessing the grace. This is a departure from the view that the schism was about ideas about the reform or the theology behind the styles.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2009, 10:59:12 PM by Bogoliubtsy » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2009, 12:54:08 AM »

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/14005166.jpg
Orthodox Church in Chertanovo in Moscow. Pretty new building (Panoramio has other photos in the area that show it recently under construction. So it's clear certain parts of the Nikonian reforms aren't really in effect. (like his ban on tent-construction over churches)
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2009, 09:22:32 AM »

In this regard, Schmemann in the book that I mentioned quotes one item from the decisions of the so-called One Hundred Chapter Council of the Russian Orthodox Church ("Stoglav"), which happened shortly before the onset of Nikon's reforms. It is about the attitude toward a man who would shave his beard. In my non-literal translation from the Old Church Slavonic original: to have one's beard is Orthodox; to shave one's beard is cursed Latin heresy; hence, a man who dares to shave his beard must be counted as a cursed heretic and someone who is worse than a heathen; it is thus forbidden to have any contact with him, and when he dies, it is forbidden to mention his name among those whom we ask God to remember; cursed will be anyone who counts such men as Orthodox, lites candles in their memory, etc. etc. etc.

Kinda gives you an idea, what was in the minds of the warrying sides back then and there...  Tongue
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