Orthodox Russia in Crisis: Church and Nation in the Time of Troubles

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9780875804460: Orthodox Russia in Crisis: Church and Nation in the Time of Troubles

A pivotal period in Russian history, the Time of Troubles in the early seventeenth century has taken on new resonance in the country’s post-Soviet search for new national narratives. The historical role of the Orthodox Church has emerged as a key theme in contemporary remembrances of this time—but what precisely was that role?

The first comprehensive study of the Church during the Troubles, Orthodox Russia in Crisis reconstructs this tumultuous time, offering new interpretations of familiar episodes while delving deep into the archives to uncover a much fuller picture of the era. Analyzing these sources, Isaiah Gruber argues that the business activity of monasteries played a significant role in the origins and course of the Troubles and that frequent changes in power forced Church ideologues to innovate politically, for example inventing new justifications for power to be granted to the people and to royal women. These new ideas, Gruber contends, ultimately helped bring about a new age in Russian spiritual life and a crystallization of the national mentality.

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About the Author:

Isaiah Gruber is an author and lecturer who has lived on four continents and in six countries. He specializes in the histories of Russia, Eastern Europe, Judaism, and Christianity. Dr. Gruber is currently a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as an independent translator and lecturer. [ isaiahgruberphd.com ]

 

Review:

"Isaiah Gruber’s new book offers a lively account and an exciting analysis of Russia’s 'Time of Troubles,' 1598–1613—a period of dynastic collapse, social upheaval, and foreign invasion . . . Gruber has written a riveting and original account of a fascinating time."
American Catholic Historical Review

“Gruber’s book provides an excellent window on a seldom-researched subject and certainly contributes considerably to the historiography already extant on the Time of Troubles. It is also highly pertinent to the situation in contemporary Russia.”
European History Quarterly

“An important and welcome addition to our ever-growing knowledge about the varieties of Russian Orthodoxy.”
Slavonica
 
“Gruber’s book is an important contribution to understanding the relations between ideology and pragmatism in the Russian church elite’s pursuit of power.”
Slavic Review
 
“Isaiah Gruber has produced a fascinating study. It shows the importance of both the institutional and ideological power of the Church in Russia at this time and, despite the anti-Semitic tenor of much of Russian life in this period, the importance of the Jewish lineage for official discourse. It is an important addition to our understanding of the time of troubles and, through that, to the way both societies and institutions handle crisis.”
 —Australian Journal of Jewish Studies
“Isaiah Gruber’s book is a useful addition to the growing English-language literature on the 'Time of Troubles' of the early seventeenth century.”
Canadian-American Slavic Studies

“In this important and highly original book the author brilliantly chronicles the business-savvy Church’s cozy relationship with increasingly unpopular (and unlikely) tsars, and he skillfully charts the monasteries’ accumulation of huge profits while Russia’s economy declined and most of the population suffered. It is here that Gruber arrives at one of his most important conclusions and offers a far more nuanced appraisal of the impact of the Time of Troubles on the Church than the simplistic traditional argument that the Church was a big winner for having heroically helped to end the Troubles.”

(Chester S. L. Dunning Texas A & M University)

“This book is an important contribution to the literature on seventeenth-century Russia, on the Orthodox Church, on political ideology in Muscovy, and on monastic economies.” (Russell E. Martin Westminster College)

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