Orthodoxy of Russian practices.16 Following the advice of the Greeks took the tsar and Nikon down a dangerous path, for, as many Russians firmly believed, it was the Greeks' apostasy at the council of Florence that had thrust Orthodox Russia into the centre of world history. Moreover, it was well known that the main centres of contemporary Greek Orthodox learning and publishing were in Roman Catholic countries.
Against this background, on 11 February 1653 the Printing Office published a new edition of the Psalter, which omitted the customary article instructing worshippers on the correct way to cross themselves. Then, within days, Nikon filled the gap with an instruction (pamiat') to the faithful to use the so-called three-finger sign of the cross, holding their thumb, index and middle fingers together. Muscovite tradition, embodied in the protocols of the Stoglav council of 1551, held to the two-finger sign with only the index and middle fingers extended. Then, in early 1654, a local church council approved the principle of revising Russian liturgical books 'according to ancient parchment and Greek texts (po starym kharateinym i grecheskim knigam)'. As Nikon's contemporary opponents and the best modern scholars have argued, the new editions of the service books were based, not on ancient manuscripts, but on very recent Greek editions and mandated the substitution of contemporary Greek practices for traditional Russian usages.17
New editions followed one another in rapid succession - Sluzhebniki (Missals) in 1654 and 1655, and in 1654 the Skrizhal, a treatise on the nature of liturgy, together with Nikon's justification of his reforms. In addition to the sign of the cross, the most controversial changes in the details of the liturgy included the four-pointed instead of eight-pointed cross on the sacred wafer and on church buildings; the triple rather than double Alleluia after the Psalms and the Cherubic hymn; the number of prostrations and bows in Lent; a new transliteration of 'Jesus' into Slavonic (Iisus instead of Isus); and small but significant alterations in the wording of the Nicene Creed.
Nikon's liturgical reforms fit into two broader contexts. The standardisation of Russian and Greek liturgies arose from the aspiration to bring Orthodox Christians together under Russian leadership. Yet the churches and societies that formed that commonwealth were distinctly different. In Russia, where universal adherence to Orthodoxy was a given, defining authentic Russian
16 Kartashev, Ocherki, 11,126-31.
17 On the reforms, N. F. Kapterev, Patriarkh Nikon i Tsar' Aleksei Mikhailovich, 2 vols. (Sergiev Posad: Tipografiia Sviato-Troitskoi Sergievoi Lavry, 1909-12); Paul Meyendorff, Russia, ritual, and reform: the liturgical reforms of Nikon in the 17th century (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991). S. V Lobachev, Patriarkh Nikon (St Petersburg: Iskusstvo-SPB, 2003), 123-5, argues that Nikon issued his instruction in 1654, not 1653.
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