The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1948: From Decline to Resurrection, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1948

From Decline to Resurrection, 1st Edition

By Daniela Kalkandjieva


392 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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This book tells the remarkable story of the decline and revival of the Russian Orthodox Church in the first half of the twentieth century and the astonishing U-turn in the attitude of the Soviet Union’s leaders towards the church. In the years after 1917 the Bolsheviks’ anti-religious policies, the loss of the former western territories of the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union’s isolation from the rest of the world and the consequent separation of Russian emigrés from the church were disastrous for the church, which declined very significantly in the 1920s and 1930s. However, when Poland was partitioned in 1939 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Stalin allowed the Patriarch of Moscow, Sergei, jurisdiction over orthodox congregations in the conquered territories and went on, later, to encourage the church to promote patriotic activities as part of the resistance to the Nazi invasion. He agreed a Concordat with the church in 1943, and continued to encourage the church, especially its claims to jurisdiction over émigré Russian orthodox churches, in the immediate postwar period. Based on extensive original research, the book puts forward a great deal of new information and overturns established thinking on many key points.


"Meticulously researched and intricately structured, this monograph blazes a new trail in the historiography of the ROC. By reconstructing key formative moments of the church’s experience and action in the early twentieth century, this original analysis gives the reader a more comprehensive sense of context for understanding the ecclesiological identity of the Russian Orthodox today, its relations with the state and its more recent elaborations of the notion of canonical territory. Th is book will be welcomed by specialists and advanced students of the Orthodox Church, but though it is not intended as an introductory text its highly readable presentation will make it very rewarding to the non-specialist as well." - Andrii Krawchuk, St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 59:4 (2015) 485–498

"This is an important work of scholarship that will serve as a vital reference point for all future research on the international dimension of the Russian Orthodox Church. The book will most definitely be of use to specialists in twentieth-century church history and theologians who focus on modern inter-church relations."

James White, Europe-Asia Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The Dissolution of the Russian Orthodox Church (1917-1939) 2. The Sergian Church in the Annexed Territories (September 1939 – June 1941) 3. The Holy War of the Sergian Church 4. The Sergian Church and Western Christianity 5. The Moscow Patriarchate Restored 6. The Growth of Moscow’s Jurisdiction 7. Russian Émigré Churches beyond Stalin’s Grasp (1945-1947) 8. The Moscow Patriarchate and the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches outside the Soviet Union (1944-1947) 9. Toward an Eighth Ecumenical Council (1944-1948) Conclusion

About the Author

Daniela Kalkandjieva is a Researcher at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria

About the Series

Routledge Religion, Society and Government in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet States

This Series seeks to publish high quality monographs and edited volumes on religion, society and government in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states by focusing primarily on three main themes: the history of churches and religions (including but not exclusively Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism) in relation to governing structures, social groupings and political power; the impact of intellectual ideas on religious structures and values; and the role of religions and faith-based communities in fostering national identities from the nineteenth century until today.

The Series aims to advance the latest research on these themes by exploring the multi-facets of religious mobilisation at local, national and supranational levels. It particularly welcomes studies which offer an interdisciplinary approach by drawing on the fields of history, politics, international relations, religious studies, theology, law, sociology, and anthropology.

Lucian Leustean is Reader in Politics and International Relations at Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General