Fortress Press

Understanding World Christianity: Russia

Understanding World Christianity


Scott M. Kenworthy (Author), Alexander S. Agadjanian (Author), Dyron B. Daughrity (Series Editor)


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Understanding World Christianity: Russia is a broad examination of Christianity--especially Orthodox Christianity--in modern Russia. The Russian Orthodox Church is currently playing a very prominent role in Russian society and politics, and it is not possible to fully understand Russia today without it. The role of Russian Orthodoxy today is a dramatic reversal from the suppression it suffered for most of the 20th century under the Soviet regime. Based upon a wealth of recent research in multiple fields, this book examines the complexity of contemporary Russian Orthodoxy within a historical context. It first introduces the reader to what is distinctive about Orthodox Christianity in general and Russian Orthodoxy in particular, then provides an overview of the history of Christianity in Russia, its various regional expressions, the experience of representative individuals during the 20th century, an examination of modern Russian theology, and ends with an analysis of the post-Soviet relationship of religion, politics, and society. It is an ideal introduction for students and non-specialists interested in Global Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, Russian Studies, and any others who wish to know how Christianity influences, and is influenced by, the Russian context.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451472509
  • eBook ISBN 9781506469171
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 311
  • Publication Date January 19, 2021


"Written by two of the world's leading scholars of Russian Orthodoxy, this splendid volume fills a huge gap in the literature of World Christianity. Kenworthy and Agadjanian's skillful overview balances theological traditions and historical developments with nuanced treatment of contemporary issues. Accessible to broad audiences, and also useful for specialists, it introduces the rich devotional and institutional life of Russia's majority Christian tradition. I recommend it very highly."

Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, Boston University

"This powerful and engaging book provides clear-headed knowledge about Russian Orthodoxy, its faith and religious practice, its aspirations and fears. No one could read this book without gaining understanding and insight. A wonderful book! Essential reading!"

Archpriest Andrew Louth FBA, Professor Emeritus, University of Durham, UK

"Scott Kenworthy is one of the world's leading authorities on Russia and its church. In this luminously written study we have a most beautiful introduction to Russian Christianity that is at once masterly in its coverage and also deeply fascinating in its level of detail."

John A. McGuckin, Oxford University Faculty of Theology

"Agadjanian and Kenworthy have admirably untangled the many different strands of "the complex tapestry" of Russian Orthodoxy. Their interdisciplinary work outlines not only the broad theological contours of Eastern Orthodoxy, but also the beliefs and practices of Russian Orthodox believers as well as Russian Orthodoxy's historical development, its dissenters and competition, its key modern religious figures within and outside Russia, and its paradoxical position within contemporary Russian society which values religious identity over religious practice. It is essential reading for non-specialists and specialists alike."

Christine D. Worobec, Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, Northern Illinois University, author of Peasant Russia and Possessed: Witches and Demons in Imperial Russia

"This excellent guide to Russian Orthodoxy is much needed, as the subject is poorly understood, even by many experts on Russia. Kenworthy sums up lucidly the serious research done by scholars in recent years, and displays the Orthodox Church in all its spiritual, theological, geographic and ethnic diversity."

Geoffrey Hosking, Emeritus Professor of Russian History, University College London

"This compact study of Christianity in Russia, by leading historian Scott Kenworthy and historical sociologist Alexander Agadjanian, provides a systematic and sophisticated account of Christianity in Russia from its medieval origins to the present day. It is a state-of-the-art piece of scholarship, reflecting the massive research in Russia and abroad since the collapse of the Soviet Union moved the study of religion to the front burner. Specialists and non-specialists will profit from a close reading of this important volume."

Gregory Freeze, Brandeis University

"This extraordinarily clear and beautifully-written introduction to Orthodoxy in Russia is also a superb introduction to Orthodoxy theology and spirituality in general. With remarkable historical depth and fair and thoughtful evaluation of Orthodoxy's place in Russia's past and present, Kenworthy and Agadjanian correct caricatures that too often shape Western views of Russia and its Church."

John Burgess, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, author of Holy Rus': The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia

"Agadjanian and Kenworthy masterfully produced both a readable survey for students and a critically-nuanced, interpretive study for the more advanced specialist--all under one cover. Interdisciplinary in approach, the book is multi-layered, shedding light as much on political and institutional features of Russian Orthodoxy as on its lived, devotional, and theological dimensions. Groundbreaking in its overturning of numerous persistent stereotypes, the book challenges readers to consider the internal diversity of 'Russian Christianity' as an institution, lived tradition, and identity marker."

Vera Shevzov, Smith College, author of Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution