Moscow region, Sergiev Posad, Lavra, Academy

Research

Academic research at the Moscow Theological Academy is carried out by its subdivisions - the departments, their academic schools, the library and sub-departments.

Research results are presented at departmental workshops and conferences, as well as at traditional academic conferences - the student conference in May and the of the Academic Pokrovsky Conference in October of each year.

The following academic research schools are currently operating in the MThA:

1. "The legacy of Apostle Paul in the exegesis of the Holy Fathers, the Russian pre-revolutionary and to modern Biblical Studies" - an academic research school of the Biblical Studies Department.

The academic research school of the Department of Biblical Studies at the MThA Department for the Study of the works of St. Paul has been in operation since 2010.

The main purpose of this is research school is the comprehensive study and actualization of the legacy of the "Apostle of the Gentiles."

The main objective of the school is to carry out research projects that address contemporary issues of isagogy, hermeneutics, exegetics and the theology St. Paul. The main practical problem that requires a solution from the research school was formulated as a lack of modern Russian research that summarizes and details the character of the epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul.

Research work is carried out in the following areas: first, archaeological research in places where Apostle Paul preached; second, participation in scientific conferences and seminars; and third, the development of topical issues in the study of the Apostle's legacy and the publication of the results of research in church and secular academic publications; fourth, providing the Departmental journal with relevant material for publication.

The theoretical result of the school's work was the formation and development of a new exegetic approach characterized by cholism, continuity, historicism, as well as special attention to the issues of chronology and context. The practical result of the school's activity is the filling the gap in Russian research on the Apostle Paul, which appeared after 1917.

Since it started to function, the research school of the Department of Biblical Studies of the MThA has implemented 3 research projects, supported by grants of the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation (RHNF) and the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research (RFBR):

  1. RFBR research project No. 16-04-00407 "The concept of "two centuries" in the textual corpus the Apostle Paul. The Director of the project is Archpriest Alexander Timofeev, head of the MThA Department of Biblical Studies.
  2.  Research project of the RHNF No. 15-34-01304 "Plot-composition and thematic specificity of Apostle Paul's epistles to the Romans and the Galatians". The Director of the project is Associate Professor of the MThA Department of Biblical Studies M. V. Kovshov.
  3.  RHNF research project No. 10-04-00133 "The Apostle Paul and his epistles in light of modern biblical data". The Project Manager is Head of the MThA Department of Biblical Studies Archpriest Alexander Timofeev.

2.1. "Christian morality in the modern world" - an academic research school of the Theology Department.

Christian morality has always been the most important topic of Orthodox theology, because a righteous and pious life is necessary for the salvation of man. Moral theology attempts to explain the system of Christian ethics in the narrow sense of the word, a recognized specialist in which is professor Archimandrite Plato (Igumnov), the author of the textbook "Orthodox moral theology".

However, in modern society the problems that played a secondary role in traditional moral theology come to the foreground. First of all, these are the issues of how to interact with the surrounding world and the human body. Modern man has unprecedented opportunities to influence the surrounding nature, which has already led to an environmental crisis on a global scale, and one of the most important tasks of modern Christian ethics is to respond to this challenge. In addition, scientific and technological progress in the field of biology and medicine has led to the exacerbation of traditional problems of medical ethics and the emergence of completely new ones, so that a new ethical discipline - bioethics - has emerged.

 Therefore, the academic efforts of the Department of Theology of the MThA focus their activities, first of all, on bioethics and ecology as being of paramount importance for modern society, although it also takes into account other pressing moral issues (in the economic sphere, in the field of digital communications, etc.). This direction is headed by the Honored Professor M. S. Ivanov. Archpriest Oleg Mumrikov and Priest Stephan Domuschi are also authors of a number of works in this field.

The answer to the question of how a person should act, is largely determined by the answer to the question of who is a person. Thus philosophical and theological anthropology has become a promising direction in the academic school in recent years: graduate students of the department conduct research in the field of consciousness and personality problems.

Orthodox theology is inconceivable without a live connection with Church Tradition, thus the works other research directions of the department, devoted to patrology, as well as religious and philosophical thought are of great importance for the solution of moral problems of our time. They allow us to make relevant the spiritual and moral experience of the previous generations, which is necessary in order to make a response to modern challenges.

2.2. "School of Patrological Research" - an academic research school of the Theology Department.

The academic research school of patrological research was established at the MThA Department of Theology in 2017.

The school is led by Aleksei Ivanovich SidorovProfessor of the MThA, Doctor of Church History, Candidate of History, author of numerous translations from the Greek language and studies (books and articles) on various patrology-related topics (see, inter alia, 5 volumes of his works - "The Holy Fathers' Heritage and Church Antiquities"). His leading areas of research are: the legacy of St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Theoleptus of Philadelphia and other late Byzantine authors, monastic writing, patristic asceticism and patristic exegetics.

Members of the Research School:

Dobrotsvetov Pavel Kirillovich, Candidate of Philosophy, Candidate of Theology, Associate Professor of the MThA. The main directions of his research are: the legacy of St. Maximus the Confessor and the Areopagite Corpus, monastic writing, the relationship between philosophy and theology in ancient church writing. In addition, he carries out translation, publishing and editorial activities to translate the works of the Holy Fathers of the Church and church writers, as well as academic works of modern foreign researchers.

Alexei Ruslanovich Fokin,Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute for Postgraduate Studies. The main directions of his research are: Latin church writing, translations and studies of the works of Western Church fathers and church writers (Marius Victorinus, St. Augustine, St. Jerome of Strido, etc.).

Roman Mikhailovich Kon', Candidate of Theology, Associate Professor of the MThA, teaches sectology. The main directions of his research are: the methodology and typology of sectarianism, the history of sectology in Russian theology and the formation of sectology as an academic science in Russian theological education, the study of modern sectarianism and esoterism, a comparative analysis of the foundations of spiritual life in sectarianism and Orthodoxy.

The purpose of the research done by the school is to study of the patristic heritage of Holy Fathers of the Church and other church writers and to make their works relevant in relation to the problems of modern theology and church life.

The main research areas of the school are:

  1. Newly commented translations and refinements of earlier Russian-language translations of the works of the Church Fathers and other church writers.
  2. Translations of modern foreign patristic research and discussion of the issues they raise and their use in the academic and educational process.
  3. Updating the Holy Father's experience to protect the Gospel Message from distortion and substitution in the face of ancient and modern heresies (sects and paganism - both traditional and neopaganism).
  4. Study of the patristc methodology of polemics with heresies to refute modern religious misconceptions.
  5. Investigation of the method in theological-philosophical and patrological fields.
  6. The credibility criteria problemme regarding mystical and ascetic religious experience in Orthodoxy and other religious (heresy and paganism).

А. I. Sidorov, P.K. Dobrotsvetov, A.R. Fokin are working together on a patrology textbook, the 1st volume of which was published in 2019:

А. I. Sidorov, P. K. Dobrotsvetov, A. R. Fokin. Patrolology. Volume 1. Church writings of the Antenicean period. A textbook of a Bachelor of Theology. - Moscow: Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute for Postgraduate Studies, Publishing House "Poznanie", 2019;

 and a patrological anthology, volumes 1 and 2 which were published in 2017:

1. Bachelor of Theology textbook. Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church. Anthology. Volume 1. Church Literature of the Antenicean period (I - beginning of the IV c.) / general editing by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Moscow: Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute for Postgraduate Studies, Publishing House "Poznanie", 2017. 384 pages.

2. Bachelor of Theology textbook. Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church. Anthology. Volume 2. The Golden Age of Patristic Literature (beginning of the IV — beginning of the V c.) / general editing by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Moscow: Saints Cyril and Methodius Institute for Postgraduate Studies, Publishing House "Poznanie", 2017. 720 pages.

Associate Professor P. K. Dobrotsvetov creates content for a distance learning course. In 2018 the 1st year was launched:

A distance learning course of lectures on patrology for first year Bachelor students of Theological Seminaries of the Russian Orthodox Church. Classes with questions, illustrations and with auxiliary materials. Bachelor of Theology course. A portal for distance learning of the ROC Educational Committee. Classes 1 – 50.

All the above mentioned members of the Research School participate in the organization and holding of conferences and speeches, in the publication of collections of works, as well as help graduate students and undergraduates prepare presentation for events of the Research School.

3. An Academic Research School of the Department of Applied Church Disciplines and Archaeological and Church-Practical Disciplines "Church-archaeological, liturgical and canonical studies of the Balkan region during the medieval period."

The Christian heritage of the Balkan region is of crucial importance for the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic Churches, as it is here that the Byzantine tradition, which in many ways followed the national Slavic traditions, was formed and developed. Accordingly, a corpus of Slavic translations of the Holy Scripture, a series of Slavic translations of liturgical texts and Slavic translations of patristic texts were formed in the region.

The Moscow Theological Academy has always paid special attention to the study of the Christian tradition on the Balkan Peninsula. The names of Professor Archpriest Alexander Gorsky, professors G. A. Voskresensky, E. E. Golubinsky, and N. L. Tunitsky are found not only on the pages of the "Cyril and Methodius Bibliography" and other academic directories, but also in the bibliographic apparatus of modern research.

The objectives of the academic school of the Department of Applied Church Disciplines are:

  • Organizing and conducting interdisciplinary research on the Christian heritage of the Balkan region;
  • Organization and preparation of special educational programmes related to the study of Christian heritage in the Balkan region;
  • Ensuring the unity of research work within the Balkan subdivision of the Department with the educational process at the Moscow Theological Academy.

The main tasks of the academic school are:

1. Coordinating and conducting interdisciplinary research related to

- the study of Christian heritage in the Balkan region,
- the study of the heritage and traditions of Slavic enlighteners Saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples,
- the study of church and state relations in the Balkan region in the Middle Ages.

2. Attracting students, undergraduates and doctoral students of the Moscow Theological Academy, as well as teachers for research work at the school.

3. Use of research findings in the educational process and increase of the instructors' qualifications.

4. An Academic Research School of the Department of Church History "History of the Russian Church seen through events and personalities (regional studies, archival studies, church-historical archeology)".

The reason that topics related to the 20th century history of the Russian Orthodox Church have been chosen as the main research focus, can be explained by desire to rethink this stage of Russia's historical past and develop new approaches of understanding the role of Orthodoxy in public life. Until recently, this page of the church's history had remained beyond the academic interest of historians. In connection with this a comprehensive study of the history of the Russian Church in the post-revolutionary period seems necessary. A true view of the history of the Church in this period is of particular importance at the current stage of the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian statehood.

A return to the traditional spiritual and moral values of Orthodoxy can contribute to a more complete and correct understanding and resolution of socio-political, cultural and national issues in the region.

Looking at the historical paths of the Russian Church, one cannot help but stop at the period that is closest to us - the 20th century. At this point? what attracts the observer's attention is not so much the acquaintance with the realities of the time and the richness of actual material, but rather the desire to realize the tragedy that took place in our Fatherland in those difficult years.

The beginning of the XX century is a unique time when the foundations of the Russian Empire, based on ancient traditions, collapsed, when society experienced serious changes. The Russian Church had to react dynamically to the challenge of modernity, it corresponds to the realities of those difficult days. The controversy around that time has not subsided so far. It is obvious that the newest period in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church seems to be one of the most promising objects of research for the church historian. 

Historian Igor Smolich described the historical circumstances of the time: "The Church is trying to enter the free and an independent path of development and conduct a top-down reform. But the domestic political coup d'état in Russia now puts it in jeopardy of the new state power. The church is theoretically separated from the state, but in practice the government interferes in the life of the Church. The Russian Church, or better the Eastern Orthodox Church in the USSR must now fight for its Christian existence. This struggle has an epochal meaning for this period."[1].

Sources on the history of the Russian Church during the Soviet period remain poorply analyzed: documents concentrated in state archives, including those of Special Services, often contain false information; memoirs of contemporaries, correspondence and even official church-legal documents cannot be accepted by researchers without regard to the conditions in which they were created. Critical understanding of the sources on the history of the Russian Church of the XX century is one of the pressing problems of modern Russian historical science.

Compiling extensive research on the latest period is a task for the future. As archimandrite Theodosius (Almazov) aptly put it, "History has not yet given birth to a new "Nestor" who, with an artistic hand and a understanding heart would describe the fall of the Empire and the Russian Church."[2].

This is why the Research School of the MThA Church History Department focuses its scientific activities primarily on the issues of study the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the events of the 20th century, on personalities, on the history of churches and monasteries, on the basis of church-archaeological research. This direction is headed by the head of the department Professor A. K. Svetozarsky. Some of the authors of a number of works in this field are Professor Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, Professor V. M. Kirillin, instructors G. E. Kolyvanov, M. V. Pervushin. A separate research topic is the history of the Catholic Church and other "Western" trends and their relationship to Orthodoxy in the historical perspective. The important role of professor Archpriest Maximus Kozlov and his teacher, Father Anthony Borisov should be noted here .

Study of the History of the Russian Church on its historical frontiers provides a comprehensive view of cultural/historical uniqueness of Russia, her place in world and European civilization.

5. 1. An Academic Research School of the Department of Philology "Works of Ascetic Byzantine Literature (IV-XIV centuries): research, publications, translations".

The Academic Research School of the Department of Philology - "Works of Ascetic Byzantine Literature (IV-XIV centuries): research, publications, translations" - unites the efforts of teachers and students of the department in the study of the heritage of Byzantium, dedicated to the issues of Christian asceticism. Instructors publish new editions of ascetic literature, conduct their research of both published and newly published workds, translate original works into Russian from ancient Greek and other ancient languages. The members of the department who take part in the implementation of this project also seek to identify the impact of Byzantine ascetic literature on the literary work of the authors of Ancient Russia. The school also works on translations and research of various works of the ascetic Byzantine literature of the department's students.

5. 2. An Academic Research School of the Department of Philology "Reception of Christian Culture in Russian literature".

"Reception of Christian Culture in Russian literature" as a research topic of the Department of Philology reflects the academic interests of our instructors, whose research focus is on the study of the paradigm of perception of Christian tradition in Russian and Church Slavonic verbal culture and literary heritage. The direct subject of study is the Orthodox mentality, worldview, principles of life, reflected in both secular and ecclesiastical spheres of language use and literary creativity. Depending on the scientific objectives, theoretical preparedness, and methodological research base, the work of the staff of the department may be linguistic or literary criticism.

The indicated area of research correlates with the educational profile of the Master's degree "Russian spiritual literature", which is reflected not only in the content of the of the educational programme, but also in the subjects of students' work.

6. An Academic Research School of the Department of History and Theory of Church art "Problems of the study of Art from the Eastern Christian World: Balkans, Russia, Christian East".

Head researcher: Candidate of the Arts, Head of the MThA Department of History and Theory of Church Art N. V. Kvlividze.

Within the framework of the research school there is a seminar devoted to the problems of studying Eastern Christian art. The seminar is attended by MThA teachers, as well as specialists from other universities, research institutes and museums, whose sphere of academic interests includes Christian art of the period before the division of churches, the art of Orthodox countries, as well as Armenia, Syria, Palestine, Ethiopia, Egypt. The issues of architecture, painting and applied arts of the Eastern Christian world and their connection with Christian worship and theology are the subject of discussion.


[1] Smolich I. On the question of the periodisation of the history of the Russian Church (translated from German by archimandrite Macarius (Veretennikov) // Alpha and Omega. – 1998. — № 3. – P. 173.

[2]  Theodosius (Almazov), Archimandrite. My memoires (Solovki prisoner's notes). Мoscow, 1997. P.10.