Russian Nonconformity: The Story of Unofficial Religion in by Serge Bolshakoff

By Serge Bolshakoff

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Example text

They expected the end of the world in 1669, and they neglected their businesses and spent their time in fasting and prayer to prepare for the event. But nothing happened. New calculations were made, and 1699 was proclaimed to be the year of the Last Judgment. This dreaded year duly ar rived and proved to be quite an ordinary one. Again nothing hap pened except that Czar Peter the Great, son of Alexis, returned to Moscow from abroad in an unusual way. He entered his capital with complete disregard for the ancient ceremonial, which pre scribed visits to shrines and churches as a thanksgiving.

It became evident that the Josephites' learn ing consisted in memorizing a great many texts which they could repeat very cleverly to defend their views. They possessed no method, however, and failed to construct a coherent system of doctrine. Philaret, who was patriarch of the Russian Church from 1619 to 1633, was the ruling power in both the Russian Church and State; but his immediate successors, Joasaph I and Joseph, could not maintain this exalted position. They enjoyed only the custom ary title of Great Lord, and they did not sign the imperial decrees nor intervene in public affairs.

They enjoyed only the custom ary title of Great Lord, and they did not sign the imperial decrees nor intervene in public affairs. On the contrary, at this time the State began to interfere with ecclesiastical administration. The impoverished State looked with understandable envy on the tre mendous monastic estates, peopled by hundreds of thousands of serfs. The Government wanted to control them and to use their income for its own ends. Until 1649 matters concerning the monastic estates were handled by a special division of the minis try of the Great Palace.

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