Page 4, 25th June 1937

25th June 1937
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Page 4, 25th June 1937 — Religion
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People: Nicolas Zernov
Locations: Moscow, Rome

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Religion

Russian Christianity

Moscow the Third Rome. By Nicolas Zernov, D.Phil. (S.P.C.K., 2s. 6d.)

Reviewed by G. BENNIGSEN This slender volume purports to introduce the reader to Russian Christianity and its specific features. Inevitably it covers much of the same ground as the able work of J. Danzas' The Russian Church (Sheed and Ward), but, lacking the solid background of a historian and philosopher, Dr. Zernov's book strikes us as somewhat confused and amateurish. It is also curious that the Catholic writer, though alive to the darker aspects of Russian Orthodoxy, has done far more justice to the finer sides than does the Orthodox Dr. Zernov whose apologetic tone and occasional ambiguously worded sentences make us wonder whether his co-religionists would endorse all he says. Indeed, such sentences as " The Russian Church, like every historic body, has had, and will have, many failures and shortcomings" and another recalling the famous "branch theory" that "Russian Christianity has from the very beginning possessed certain characteristics which distinguished it from the rest of the Catholic Church," strongly savour of Anglican thought. The writer insists that a positive factor in the development of the Russian Church was the use of the vernacular, though according to his later admission " the long services" in this same vernacular " were little understood by the people."

Whereas J. Danzas clearly shows the two distinct divisions of Russian spirituality from its beginnings until these days of persecution, the existence of a very high conception of Christianity among the RusQ;an masses, finding its expression in some Russian monasteries on the one hand. and on the other the survival of a pagan looseness of morals, all this is dealt with in Dr. Zernov's book in a confusing way which leaves the reader unenlightened as to the true nature of the Russian Church. The attitude to the Catholic Church ;c, seen in




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