Metropolitan Kiprian And The Orthodox Slavic Revival

They produced historiography in the shape of chronicles (the pinnacle of which is the sixteenth-century Illustrated Chronicle Compendium or Litsevoi letopisnyi svod, over io,ooo manuscript pages compiled under the guidance of Metropolitan Makarii) and hagiography recording the lives of significant individuals. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, this creative activity was accelerated and shaped by a cultural movement that began in the Balkans as an attempt to reform the orthography and language of religious texts according to canonical norms, and developed into a drive for cultural renewal across Orthodox Europe as a whole. New saints' lives were written, new models of sanctity were promoted which highlighted the importance of the individual personality and experience, and a complex and rhetorical literary style known as 'word weaving' (pletenie sloves) developed. The new style reached Russia in part through the agency of Bulgarian and Serbian emigres such as Metropolitan Kiprian. Among its early manifestations were the hagiographical writings of Epifanii 'The Wise' (premudryi), the 'word-weaving' author of the Life of St Sergii and the Life of St Stefan of Perm.34 Scholars have termed this movement the 'Second South Slavonic Influence' (the first having occurred at the time ofthe conversion of Rus), but it does not do justice eitherto the native input or to the role played by renewed contacts with Byzantium and, most importantly, with Mount Athos (whence came the important hagiographer 'Pakhomii the Serb' in i438).

Scholars agree that the mystical current of hesychasm was part of this pan-Slavic renewal process, but exactly how remains elusive. Part of the problem resides in the several definitions and uses of the term. Derived from the Greek ^ouxao^os', 'being quiet', 'hesychasm' primarily describes the monastic practice of interior silence and continual prayer first established by the Desert Fathers and was not used to indicate a distinct spiritual movement until the fourteenth-century Byzantine revival of meditative prayer techniques, most characteristically the 'prayer of the heart' or Jesus Prayer and the striving towards the 'Divine and Uncreated Light' of Mount Tabor.35 This revival was linked to Gregory of Sinai and Gregory Palamas, the former having a far greater impact on the Slavs. It was a movement that can be viewed more broadly as a revival of monastic spirituality, while there are scholars who have

34 V G. Druzhinin (ed.), Zhitie sviatogo Stefana, episkopa Permskogo napissanoe Epifaniem Premudrym [Apophoreta slavica 2] (The Hague: Mouton, i959), reprint of i897 edition. An extract in English can be found in S. A. Zenkovsky, Medieval Russia's epics, chronicles and tales (New York: E. P. Dutton, i964), 2o6-8.

35 See J. Meyendorff, St Gregory Palamas and Orthodox spirituality (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, i998) for a clear exposition of Palamas's hesychasm within the historical tradition of eastern monastic spirituality. See above chapter 4.

0 0

Post a comment