“Old Russian Sects” of the 18th — 20th Centuries: New Data and New Approaches


Sectarian, Missionary, Philanthropist: A Microhistory of the Orenburg Sabbaterian Pyotr Maklakov

Drawing upon materials from the State Archive of the Orenburg Region, the article reconstructs the biography, religious views and practices of the peasant Pyotr Maklakov, who “dropped out of Orthodoxy into the Sabbaterian sect” and actively propagated “the Jewish faith” among the inhabitants of the Orenburg district in the late 19th — early 20th centuries.

Old Believers Wanderers in the Second Half of the 19th — Early 20th Century (Based upon Reports of Kargopol Missionaries)

The article discusses the patterns of everyday life of the Old Believerswanderers in the territory of Kargopol district of the Olonets province. It draws upon new archival materials of church and secular origin, as well as a number of significant works by the missionaries. The study explores peculiarities of the wanderers’ worldview, the forms and methods of their preaching activity, and the structure of their communities. The wonderers’ teaching was deeply eschatological, which led to a complete break with “the world of Antichrist”.

“Living by Spirit, not by Flesh”: Demographic Behavior of the Postniks

Religious studies devote considerable attention to the research of doctrinal influences on social behavior and everyday practices among followers of various religious movements. This study analyzes the demographic behavior of the postniks (one of the “old Russian sectarian” movements) in the Tambov region of the early twentieth century. The paper relies on the relational database developed by the authors during this research. The systematization of archival statistical data and other sources allows the authors to take a closer look at the postniks’ religious life.

Reigning with Christ for a Thousand Years: Two Prophets of Russian Millennialism

The article explores the crossroads of two surviving groups of “old Russian sectarianism” — Molokan Jumpers and JehovistsIl’intsy — for whom the anticipation of the millennial kingdom on earth was a central doctrinal tenet. Researchers in the past, as well as modern scholars of religion, usually have not paid attention to the connection between the two movements, which was at one time quite substantial both in the doctrinal and the practical sense.

“Apostasy into a Schism” in the Kazan Diocese: Old Believers in the Parish Life of the Russian Village

In the era of Nicholas I, the policy for further unification of the religious life and stricter surveillance over parishioners led to a rise of investigative cases filed against schismatics. The article discusses how the clergy increased their efforts in revealing the facts of “apostasy” of Old Belief among the Orthodox. In the course of these activities, the Russian authorities discovered the imperfection of their own system of surveillance.

The Russian Judaizers and the Transylvanian Sabbatarians: An Attempt of Comparative Analysis

The paper provides the first attempt of a comparative study of the two forms of Judaizers phenomenon: the Russian Subbotnik movement and the Transylvanian Sabbatarianism. The study reveals a number of shared features in their origin, development, social makeup, religious ideas and practices as well as their relationships with the authorities. The genesis of the Transylvanian Szombatosok is directly correlated to the European Reformation, and Russian Judaizers are included in the context of the so called Protestantizing movement.

On Anna Stepanova, a Peasant from the Kostroma Uyezd, Revered as the Theotokos

This paper examines the eighteenth-century Kostroma Christ-believers’ community. It is based on the 1747 police investigation case against the merchant Ivan Krupennikov, held in the Fund of the Most Holy Synod at the Russian State Historical Archive. One of the important figures in the case was Anna Stepanova, a peasant from the Kostroma district, revered as the Theotokos. The paper introduces new archival materials and describes some religious practices of heterodox communities in eighteenth-century town of Kostroma.

The Early History of the Hristovschina: From an Ecstatic Movement to a Confessionalized Sect

This article considers the emergence of the sect of Khlysty. Sources that were not previously used in the study of this movement (investigative documents of Streltsy riots, the case of queen Evdokia, Major Glebov and others) allow a better reconstruction of the environment in which the shaping of the movement took place, its structure and early history.

“Old Sects” in a New Light: How to Study Russian Religious Dissent, 1700–1900

The introductory paper to the thematic block deals with fundamental issues of present day historical, anthropological, and religious studies of the so called “old Russian sects” of the 18th and 19th centuries. Russian religious dissenters of this period could be hardly viewed as homogeneous or integrated religious culture both historically and socially. However, the study of these movements as well as their representation in various discursive and ideological contexts can tell us a lot about religion in Russia of the “Synodal period”.

No. 3 (38) 2020