Reviews

Ingunn Lunde, ed. Kirill of Turov: Bishop, Preacher, Hymnographer. Slavica Bergensia 2, Bergen: Department of Russian Studies, University of Bergen, 2000. Index. 230 pp. Approx. $13/?8.00/DM 24 (paper).

The second volume of Slavica Bergensia, published by the Department of Russian Studies of the University of Bergen, should be welcomed by the community of Slavic scholars. This selection of nine articles dedicated to the works of Kirill of Turov reflects a continuing scholarly interest in the heritage of the early Kievan author, whose very existence is questionable, yet to whom were ascribed the best homiletic works of the early Rus' literature. This collection covers a variety of aspects of the Corpus Cyrillianum, successfully incorporating topics that range from the theological, culturological, and literary to linguistic and bibliographical.

The opening essay, by David Kirk Prestel, explores theological premises of monasticism in Kirill's Tale of a Layman and discusses them in relation to the monastic tradition of the Kievan Caves Monastery. The scholar posits that this work by Kirill of Turov offers the most explicit exposition in Kievan homiletics of the so-called caves theology. In his analysis of Kirill's Tale of a Laymen, Prestel distinguishes four themes central to the narrative: the theme of caves and mountains; of cenobitic life; of monastic virtues and imitatio Christi; and the theme of withdrawal from the world. Prestel first explores Kirill's treatment of these themes and then proceeds to their discussion in the context of the literary heritage of the Kiev Cave Monastery. The scholar proposes a thorough revision of the time-honored view once offered by George Fedotov. While Fedotov contrasts the positions of Kirill and Feodosii of the Caves Monastery vis-a-vis monastic ideals, Prestel convincingly shows that these two spiritual leaders "shared a similar view of monasticism" (25) which was styled on the cenobitic ideals upheld by the Kievan Cave Monastery.

Alexander Pereswetoff-Morath examines putative antisemitism of Kirill to conclude that it did not amount to a racial hatred or aggression against physical Jews. The scholar argues that in Kievan Rus' it was rather theological anti-Judaism, which was a continuation of Byzantine theological tradition and discusses Kirill as one of the first Kievan exponents of this theological tendency. Pereswetoff-Morath reaffirms the conclusion of his scholarly predecessors that anti-Judaic polemic in Kievan Rus' did not aim to refute Judaism but was rather utilized for affirmation and extolling of Christianity. The scholar deduces that in Kirill's work, just as in textual sources on which he relied, the Jewish theme was but corollary. (74) While the overall impression from this well-argued and engaging article is most satisfying, the author's occasional choice of terminology does not serve him well. Thus, when referring to Kievan Rus' the scholar uses an anachronistic term Russia in conjunction with the modifier Kievan. On several occasions 'Kievan' is dropped altogether and the reader has to deal with Russia as it is. This choice of term is questionable, because during the historical period under the discussion (twelfth-thirteenth centuries) the term Russia (English equivalent of Rossia) did not exist; there has never been a country/territory/polity named Kievan Russia; at the same time Kievan Rus' is a well-established term for this historical entity.

Fedor Dviniatin's article deals with semantics of antinomical oppositions in the works of Kirill. The scholar posits that antinomies, which are traditional for the Christian and medieval worldview, are presented and resolved in Kirill's homilies in a way which is unique in the Old Russian literature. He discusses distinctive stylistic features of Kirill's homiletics to conclude that Kirill's focus is on contradictions and antinomies of existence as well as on ways of overcoming them. While the first part of the essay discusses main semantic antinomies in Kirill's works, its second part offers close reading of Kirill's Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter (Homily Concerning a Sick Man) and detailed analysis of the binary opposition, God-man, which is central to this text.
The contribution by the editor of the collection, Ingunn Lunde, brings the reader's attention to the role and functions of Biblical quotations in Kirill's work. In the introductory part Lunde offers a comprehensive overview of the scholarship on the amply studied subject of Biblical quotation and then builds her own discussion in a direct dialogue with previous research. The scholar argues that the rhetorical strategy identified by her as 'multiplicity of voices' illustrates Kirill's most characteristic use of Scripture. This strategy consists in lining up a number of quotations, which in a multiplicity of voices pronounce time and time again the very same statement thus enhancing its semantic prominence. After discussing basic functions of Biblical quotations in Kirill, Lunde explores differences in the meaning and rhetorical effect of the same quotation vis-a-vis different contexts. Lunde concludes that by drawing on the Biblical text, Kirill amplified his own, bringing about "an intensification of the semantical volume." (127)

Vladimir Kolesov discusses symbol as the semantic nucleus of Kirill's texts.  The scholar calls into question the opinion of literary critics such as Vasilii Petrovich Vinogradov and Francis J. Thompson, who expressed their skepticism regarding stylistic originality of Kirill's work. Kolesov's close look at these scholars' censure of Kirill's style reveals their inability to recognize the orator's originality. The scholar's discussion of specifics of Krill's symbolism is at the same time a convincing revision of the claims of the above researchers.
Robert Romanchuk's essay tracks in detail the history of compilation of Pentecostarion Homiliary by its editor, monk Efrosin of Kirillo-Belozerskii monastery. The scholar argues that this collection of homilies was fashioned on no direct model; that its editor "broadened the 'canon' of communal (liturgical and refectory) homiletic readings" by including works of Kirill of Turov; and that this inclusion reflects the Muscovite interest in the literary heritage of Kievan Rus'.  (151) Romanchuk claims that the discovery of Kirill's works at Kirillo-Belozerskii monastery in c. 1471, was "linked to a rationalistic bibliographical trend that perceived texts qua texts, and to one individual working within this trend" (168).

C. M. MacRobert makes the subject of her investigation the textual sources of Kirill's prayers and hymns. The scholar addresses the problems that arise in the area study of medieval texts, providing new data about the dissemination of the texts comprising Corpus Cyrillianum. She opts to fill at least part of the gap between the twelfth century, when Kirill's works were written, and the high point of their popularity in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries. In conclusion MacRobert expresses her skepticism about the possibility of establishing a canon of Kirill's liturgical works, because the oeuvre under examination might be not a creation of one author but rather be representative of penitential literary tradition of East Orthodox Slavs.

Joy Bache discusses Kirill's concept of time in the texts of his three prayers. The scholar relies on such notions of time as measured, significant, and sacred. She shows how Kirill employs this threefold concept of time in order to reconcile the central controversy in the medieval writer's venture-the challenge of rendering sacred and eternal in profane and temporal terms.

Ekaterina Rogatchevskaia's concluding article explores Kirill's creative renditions of the concept of sin against the backdrop of Early Christian doctrines of Fall, Original Sin, and sinfulness. She argues that while Kirill drew upon ideas expressed by all Fathers known in Kievan Rus', his predilection was for the views of Cappadocians and the Alexandrians who elucidated the concept of the Fall in an allegorical manner. Consistently with other contributors to the collection, Rogatchevskaia points to the originality of Kirill's interpretation of imagery and ideas inherited from his Greek sources.

Lunde's selection is an indisputably valuable contribution to the scholarship of Kirill of Turov's work, to the studies of Kievan spirituality and culture, and to the Slavic Studies in general. Besides innovative, highly informative, and engaging articles, the volume offers short bio-bibliographical essays and an Index.

 

Svitlana Kobets
University of Toronto, CREES

 
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