Faculty and staff note: Kevin Kain announces new publications

UW-Green Bay Senior Lecturer Kevin Kain (Humanities, History, Global Studies) has published a set of books co-edited with David Goldfrank (Georgetown U.): Russia’s Early Modern Orthodox Patriarchate 2 vols. 1. Foundations and Mitred Royalty, 1589-1647 and 2. Russia’s Early Modern Orthodox Patriarchate: Apogee and Finale, 1648-1721(Washington: Academia Press, 2020).

This project originated with a 23,000 Euro grant awarded to Kain and former UWGB International Visiting Scholar Wolfram von Sheleiha (U. Leipzig) by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung fur Wisssenschaftsfoerderung. The interdisciplinary collection features sixteen chapters by American, Russian and European scholars of history, art history, religious studies and philology. These include Kain’s essay, “The Living Image of Patriarch Nikon: The Life of the Parsuna [Portrait] ‘Patriarch Nikon with Clergy’.”

Commendations on the book jackets include:

“A wide-ranging account … a fundamental contribution to Russian religious history as well as the story of politics, art, and culture in an era of change and crisis.” – Paul Bushkovitch, Reuben Post Halleck Professor of History, Yale University

“A major contribution to our understanding of Russia’s patriarchate, and more generally, the Russian Orthodox Church in the early modern period.” – Russell E. Martin, Associate Professor of History, Westminster College

Here are the descriptions:

Volume 1 Russia’s Early Modern Orthodox Patriarchate: Foundations and Mitred Royalty, 1589-1647

Focusing on one of Russia’s most powerful and wide-reaching institutions in a period of shattering dynastic crisis and immense territorial and administrative expansion, this book addresses manifestations of religious thought, practice, and artifacts revealing the permeability of political boundaries and fluid transfers of ideas, texts, people, and objects with the rest of the Christian world. The historical background to the establishment Russia’s patriarchate, its chief religious authority, in various eparchies from Late Antiquity sets the stage. Writings such as “The Tale of the Establishment of the Patriarchate,” proved crucial for legitimizing and promoting both this institution and close cooperation with the established tetrarchy of Eastern Orthodox patriarchs. Their attitude remained mixed, however, with persisting unease concerning Russian pretensions to equality. Regarding the most crucial “other” for Christianity’s self-identification, the contradictions inherent in Christianity’s appropriation of the Old Testament became apparent in, for example, the realm’s imperfectly enforced ban on resident Jews. An instance of ordained royalty emerged in the seeming, but really complementary co-rulership of the initial Romanov Tsar Mikhail and his imperious, yet inconsistently xenophobic father, Patriarch Filaret. As a pertinent parallel to Moscow’s patriarchs, and here combining a Romanian regal, Polish aristocratic, and Ukrainian Orthodox self-identity, Petro Mohyla, a metropolitan of the then totally separate Kievan church, founded the Academy which became the most important educational institution for the Russian Orthodox Church into the eighteenth century.

Volume 2 Russia’s Early Modern Orthodox Patriarchate: Apogee and Finale, 1648-1721 

Patriarch Nikon, the most energetic, creative, influential, and obstinate of Russia’s early modern religious leaders, dominates this book, which addresses specifically not only the rich variety of Nikon’s activities and of scholarly interest in him, but also the operations of the patriarchate and range across reform movements and ideology, politics, diplomacy, war, taxation, institutional alms, relic cults, monastery foundation and financing, iconography, architecture, hierotopy, sacral semiotics, portraiture, literature, and education. As head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his most important initiative was to bring Russian religious rituals into line with then current Greek Orthodox practices, from which Russia’s had diverted. Although both Nikon and Tsar Alexis I (r. 1645-1676) envisioned Russia transformed into a new Holy Land, eventually Nikon was accused of challenging the tsar’s authority. His reforms endured, but his poor political judgment appears decisive in his fall and the patriarchate’s reduction in status. Ultimately, the reforms of Peter the Great (r. 1682-1725) led to its replacement by a new, government-controlled body, the Holy Synod, which nevertheless carried out a continuity of Nikon’s policies. This exceptional volume contextualizes Nikon’s patriarchate as part of the broader continuities in Russian history and serves as a bridge through the late Imperial revival of interest in him, to the present, where Russia is forging new relationships between Church and state power.