1st Edition

Popular Religion in Russia 'Double Belief' and the Making of an Academic Myth

By Stella Rock Copyright 2007
    248 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book dispels the widely-held view that paganism survived in Russia alongside Orthodox Christianity, demonstrating that 'double belief', dvoeverie, is in fact an academic myth.

    Scholars, citing the medieval origins of the term, have often portrayed Russian Christianity as uniquely muddied by paganism, with 'double-believing' Christians consciously or unconsciously preserving pagan traditions even into the twentieth century. This volume shows how the concept of dvoeverie arose with nineteenth-century scholars obsessed with the Russian 'folk' and was perpetuated as a propaganda tool in the Soviet period, colouring our perception of both popular faith in Russian and medieval Russian culture for over a century. It surveys the wide variety of uses of the term from the eleventh to the seventeenth century, and contrasts them to its use in modern historiography, concluding that our modern interpretation of dvoeverie would not have been recognized by medieval clerics, and that 'double-belief' is a modern academic construct. Furthermore, it offers a brief foray into medieval Orthodoxy via the mind of the believer, through the language and literature of the period.

    Introduction  1. Christian Idol-Worshippers and 'Pagan Survivals'  2. Heretics and ‘Wrong-Believing'  3. A History of Historians  4. How Russian is 'Double-Belief'?  Conclusion 


    Stella Rock is Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Sussex. Her publications on Russian Orthodoxy span the medieval and post-Soviet periods, and her research interests focus on popular faith (in the broadest sense) and the relationship between religious and national identity.