such a climate, it was not so much secular censors who inhibited theological discussion as churchmen themselves. 'Orthodoxy has no system, and should not have one', declared the Slavophile Iurii Samarin.42 But it was hard for Russian scholars reliant on German systematic theology to navigate between the extremes of imitation and denigration. Too often, their 'denunciatory theology' (oblichitel'noe bogoslovie) was marked by a shrillness of tone that invited Vladimir Solov'ev to respond in kind:
This pseudo-Orthodoxy of your theological school, which has nothing in common with the faith of the Universal Church or with the piety of the Russian people, contains not a single positive element, but only arbitrary denials, which are the product of a polemic nurtured by parti-pris ... All your 'Orthodoxy' and the whole of your 'Russian Idea' are therefore at bottom only a national protest against the universal power of the pope. But in whose name? Here lie the origins of the true difficulty of your situation.43
Conscious of their scholarly imperfections, Orthodox nevertheless intended their research to underpin vigorous pastoral action. The need for such action was confirmed by a major synodal inquiry of 1818-21, which determined to increase the church's influence over a predominantly illiterate society by intensifying its teaching role (uchitel'stvo).44 Improved preaching offered one obvious way forward. 'Nothing is better written than our sermons', declared the young liberal Nikolai Turgenev in 1815, complimenting Russian bishops on their 'native intelligence' and classical learning: 'Unfortunately, very few of us read sermons.'45 So long as most remained elaborate works of literature rather than simple homilies, the problem seemed likely to persist. 'What sort of sermon covers seventy pages?' enquired the mordant Metropolitan Filaret in 1833. 'And who would hear it out?'46 An effective revival of preaching required scholars to refine an authentically Orthodox homiletics, bishops to inspire
42 Socheneniialu. F. Samarina, 12 vols. (Moscow: Tipographiia A. I. Mamontova, 1878-1911), v, 163.
43 V Soloviev, La Russie et l'église universelle (Paris: Nouvelle librairie parisienne, 1889), 18, 20.
44 Freeze, 'The rechristianization of Russia', 109-10.
45 E.I.Tarasov(ed.),DnevnikiNikolaialvanovichaTurgenevazai8ii-i8i6gody(StPetersburg: Tipografiia imperatorskoi akademii nauk, 1913), 11, 299-300, 26 June 1815.
46 Savva (ed.), Pis'maFilareta, mitropolitamoskovskago i kolomenskago k vysochaishim osobam i raznymdrugimlitsam (Tver': Gubernskoepravlenie, 1888), 67, Filaret to Gavriil(Rozanov), 21 October 1833.
Was this article helpful?