Judaism and Jewish influences in Russian Spiritual Christianity: The practices of the early dukhobors and the prophecies of Maksim Rudometkin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The relationship between Judaism and Christianity on the eastern European plain has been complex, fraught with violence and conflict on the one hand, and, on the other, a creative and fruitful cultural exchange. This relationship has a long history: the rulers of the Turkic Khazars converted to Judaism in the eighth century, and, according to the Russian chronicles, Jewish missionaries sought to convert the pagan Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev as early as 987. 1 Ultimately, however, Vladimir chose to accept baptism and become a Christian, adopting the Eastern Orthodox rite that his ambassadors had found to be so beautiful when they visited Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Despite Vladimir's decision, Judaism continued to exercise an important influence on eastern Christianity. First, Russian Christianity inherited a rich theological tradition in which the fathers had engaged with- and sometimes adopted-Jewish interpretations of the Hebrew scriptures. For example, Christian efforts to find the doctrine of the Trinity in Genesis-the subject of Andrei Rublev's famous 1405 Old Testament Trinity icon-developed arguments that the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-50 CE) had advanced in the first century. 2 Second, Christians also adopted and adapted Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings. The extensive literature about Adam and Eve, for example, probably originated in a Hellenized Jewish milieu, but Christians used this Jewish framework to compose their own works about the primal couple, reflecting Christian concepts about humanity, sin, Satan, and salvation.3 Third, although largely absent from Russia until the late eighteenth century, Jews loomed large in the Christian imagination.4 If spiritual verses (dukhovnye stikhi) about the crucifixion pictured the Jews (zhidy) as the enemies of Christ, Jews also provided an example of a "textual community" that remained faithful to its scriptures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHoly Dissent
Subtitle of host publicationJewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe
PublisherWayne State University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780814335178
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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