Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 9 стр.



5. What is the core of the scientific debate as to Kievan statehood? What are
the general criteria of a state? Does Kiev match them, from your point of view?
Chapter 2
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Few institutions have been as persistent and constant in their influence upon
people as the church and the system of beliefs and customs which it preaches and
practices. This propensity for religious beliefs seems to be anchored in the inner
recesses of the human psyche. Whether you call this the divine spark in man or
superstition does not matter. The fact is that religion is something indestructible in
human nature and in human history.
After more than 70 years of Soviet rule and the propagation of atheism, the
Russian Church still exists and there are no signs of immanent death. No history of
Russia, therefore, would be complete or even meaningful without due consideration
of the formative influence of religion and the church, particularly in its early history.
Christianity and Russia before the Conversion
Prior to their conversion, the eastern Slavs were heathen and worshipped crude
images representing the forces of nature. It is likely that Christianity was known in
the territory of future Russia in the ninth century and perhaps earlier. The Grand
Duchess Olga became a Christian in the middle of the tenth century. By that time
many Russians, Varangians, as well as Slavs, had probably received baptism. The
intimate trade contacts with Constantinople, by which scores of merchants annually
visited the Byzantine capital marveled at the splendor of its churches, was responsible
for many conversions.
Indeed, this trade contact paved the way for the eventual acceptance of
Christianity by Kiev. Byzantine colonies in the Crimea - the Eastern Empire as
successor to Rome had fallen heir to the Greek towns in the peninsula - brought
Russians in contact with Christianity. The Slavs of Moravia and of Galicia, with
whom Kiev maintained trade contacts, had long been Christian and the Bulgars had
been won over by 864. Missionaries from Moravia and Constantinople had appeared
in Kiev even before it was seized by Oleg, Olga's predecessor.
Whether Oleg and Igor ever considered accepting Christianity is uncertain.
There was good reason why they should not accept it. That reason lay in the fact that
converts to the church headed by the patriarch of Constantinople must accept the
authority of the patriarch in religious matters and at the same time the eastern
emperor insisted upon recognition of his authority over the new converts in political
matters. Whenever a pagan nation in the East accepted the new faith, there arose this