→References and select bibliography: fixed italics
[[Image:Boyarynja Morozova.jpg|frame|Detail of the painting ''Boyarynya Morozova'' by Vasily Surikov depicting the defiant Boyarynya arrested by Tsarist authorities in 1671. She holds two fingers raised: a hint of the old (i.e. "proper") way of [[Sign of the cross|cross-signing]] oneself: with two fingers, rather than with three.]]
In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the '''Old Believers''' (Russian: ''старове́ры'' or ''старообря́дцы'') became separated after 1666-1667 from the hierarchy of the [[Church of Russia]] as a protest against church reforms introduced by [[Patriarch]] [[Nikon of Moscow]].
Russian-speakers refer to the schism itself as ''raskol'' ('''раскол''' - etymologically indicating a "cleaving-apart").
== Introductory summary of origins==
[[Patriarch]] [[Nikon of Moscow]] ( r. 1652 -1658) introduced a number of ritual and textual reforms with the aim of achieving uniformity between Russian and Greek Orthodox practices. Nikon, having noticed discrepancies between Russian and Greek rites and texts, ordered an adjustment of the Russian rites to align with the Greek ones of his time. He acted without adequate consultation with the clergy and without gathering a council. After the implementation of these innovations, Muscovite state power [[anathema]]tized and suppressed those who acted contrary to them. These traditionalists became known as "Old Believers" or " Old Ritualists" .
== Church Regulations ==
In the early days, services in temples and monasteries of the Russian church were conducted according to the Studite liturgical
statute [typikon]. This statute received wide acceptance because of the high importance of the Studion monastery founded in the year 463 in Constantinople at the Church of John Baptist. This monastery in the course of short time became one of the main spiritual and liturgical centers of orthodoxy. This monastery acquired singular value during the epoch of the iconoclasm, when the monks of monastery were the most zealous defenders of icon veneration. Studite regulations (typikon) prepared by Constantinople Patriarch Aleksy were brought to Russia in 1065. He also glorified the renowned Old-Russian St. Theodosius Pecherskiy as a saint. From Kiev, the Studite regulations were extended along other cities and abodes of our country . In the 14th century during the service of the metropolitans of Fotiya and Cypriana, the Russian divine services began to gravitate towards another eastern regulation - Jerusalem. It, first of all, reflects the liturgical practice of the ancient monastery of the Holy Land. The authors of the Jerusalem typikon are considered to be Saints Savva Osvyashchenny and Efim Velikiy. In the 15th century, the Jerusalem typikon obtained a certain advantage in the Russian church. One of the first translations of the Jerusalem regulations into the Slav language was completed at the end of the 14th century by the student of Saint Sergius Radonezh - Saint Afanasy Vysotsky, by the founder of the Vysotsky monastery in Serpukhov. This regulation obtained the designation “eye of the church” [“oko tserkovnoe”]. The co-existence in Russia of two regulations not only did not interfere with the order of divine service, but even enriched the liturgical life of our church. Especially important is the fact that the all ancient typikons, in contrast to contemporary ones, completely preserved the early-Christian dogmatic, symbolic and ontological sense of divine service. Well-known scholar academician E. Golubinskiy believes that the Jerusalem and Studite regulations are only variations of general ancient-orthodox regulations, and “are characterized by not so much chinoposledovaniyami [??] themselves, as by time and manner of their accomplishments”.
== Church Singing ==
Along with the transfer of liturgical regulations into the Russian church from Byzantium passes the ancient tradition of liturgical singing. In the 10th century a Greek
osmoglasie [??] style developed in the form of monotone or unison singing which defined the entire style of Christian hymns. In Russia, the Christian monotone osmoglasie [??] is called “cherubic”, according to the legends of the saints hearing the holy angels singing. In the course of a short time Christian church singing penetrated all corners of our country. Already in the 11th century at Russia appear raspevy [??] dedicated to the domestic saints. Unknown Russian authors by the 15th- 17th centuries create the huge amount of forms of pesnopeniy [??]: travelling, stolpovoy [??], large and small sign demestvenny [??], Novgorod, Pskov and many others. Possessing significant variety, Russian sacred music nevertheless remained for hundreds of years in the present Christian church, distant from the influence of fashionable secular flows.
== The Publishing Business ==
In the life of the Old-Russian church the book occupied an especially significant place. Before the invention of printing, the liturgical books, the works of holy fathers, lives of the saints, theological and other spiritual literature were valued by their weight in gold. The contribution of the book to the monastery or the temple frequently was equal to the cost of land it was put on. The high craftsmanship of the ancient manuscript and the uncommonly deferential attitude to the book by the people, made its production an extremely honorable occupation. Books were even written about princes. So for example, it is established that liturgical books were copied that dealt with Prince Vladimir Galitsky, and several liturgical texts rewrote the life of Tsar Ivan IV
Grozny [the Terrible ]. Each page, each paragraph, each proposal, each letter of the book was thoroughly compared during a census. In the Old-Russian manuscript books there were many less errors than in the contemporary book of misprints. To spoil the book for the Old-Russian rukopistsa [copyist?] would tarnish all their activities. In the18th-19th centuries, church and secular historians formed a theory about the allegedly blatant illiteracy which prevalied in Russia in the 10th-16th centuries. The overwhelming majority of the population of Kiev, and then Moscow Russia was illiterate according to the opinion of such “scientists”. A small quantity of semiliterate people were occupied by written office management, and simultaneously copied spiritual literature. In this case into the liturgical books fell many errors, errors and even fabrications of these ignoramuses.
Today this pseudo-scientific opinion is completely disproved. In the course of impartial historical research in the 20th century, it was established that the very substantial part of the population of ancient Russia was literate. Archaeologists could find on the site of ancient cities and populated areas, thousands of birch bark certificates with records belonging to commoners. After the philological analysis of Old-Russian liturgical texts, the scientists drew the conclusion that their translators and compilers know the wide layers of the literature of the Christian east. The academician of RAN
[Russian Academy of Science], V. Kirillin, conducted a tedious study of some canons of lenten and colored Triodions of the first half of the 15th century. It turned out that many texts of that time were philological more competent than contemporary ones, are more transparent for the perception and are theologically reconciled. A scientist characterizes the Old-Russian compiler of Lenten Triodion thusly: “There is an obvious and striking theological and philological culture, and a deep (Christian) understanding of unknown editor”. Sometimes the literary achievements of the ancient Russian church proved to be unprecedented throughout entire orthodox east. So in 1490, Novgorod archbishop Gennadiy's efforts for the first time in the history of eastern Christianity created a manuscript bible.
Contemporary scientists have proved also that discrepancies found in the ancient manuscripts were produced not by the ignorance of compilers and by their supposed fraudulent intent, but by the extraordinary complexity of the book, and by the absence of the possibility of rapidly checking out one questionable place or another. However, concerning differences in the ancient divine service, their reason was the co-existence of the Studite and Jerusalem regulations, which were discussed above. Let us note, however, that all this was not a special concern. The correction of errors, and the considerable improvement of various controversies took place gradually, publicly and only after serious study of the problem. In certain cases such questions were solved in the course of local church councils. Thus, for instance, the sobor of 1551 decided to correct punctuation marks, and at the sobor of 1619 after a thorough study it was decided to withdraw from holy-water prayers at Epiphany the incorrect addition “and by fire”. The appearance of a first-printed “apostle” Ivan Fedorov became a landmark stage in the life of the Russian state. The book became more accessible and available. Printed matter especially bloomed strongly with the Patriarchs
Filaret and Joseph. Tsars and pious patriarchs, worrying about the completeness of divine service, generously sent the books to churches without any commercial benefit. The old publication books to this day remain the standard of publishing quality, a model for the font and artistic imitation.
A new phenomenon in Orthodoxy was the appearance of a printed bible in 1581. The so-called Ostrog Bible became the first printed bible in the entire orthodox eastern world. A Greek printed Bible appeared only in 1821, was even then it was printed in Moscow. The first-printed bible was created because of the efforts of pious prince Constantine Ostrozhskiy, who was patron of the printing affair of Ivan Fedorov. The composition of the Ostrog Bible used a huge amount of resources brought from Russia, Greece and other countries. The text of this Bible was a close as possible to the original Greek, and the division into chapters of the Old Testament corresponded to ancient Jewish models.
== Sobornost ==
===Vladimir Sobor of 1274===
During the Mongolian- Tatar invasion the Russian lands were devastated in a significant manner, some churches were ruined, and the priests killed. This led to a specific point of spiritual decline. Metropolitan Cyril during a journey to Russia noted such sentiments and initiated a large church sobor. The sobor examined the existing problems and published the appropriate decisions. Among them were such:
Bishops, when they want to place a priest or deacon, but did not know his life experience, will call the neighbors, who knew him from childhood. The diaconate should be aged 25 years, and priests - 30 years. Baptism to be performed only with three dunkings. Pouring is not allowed. The decisions of Vladimir sobor played a significant role in the strengthening of church piety.
===Sobor of 1441===
This most important sobor was convoked on the initiative of great prince Vasiliy Vasilyevich
[Basil]. Pious prince, boyars and Russian bishops were outraged by the behavior of first-hierarch of the Russian church in those days, Metropolitan Isidor. He participated in the Florentine Greco- Latin Council of 1439 that together with Greek hierarchs signed the union of the Orthodox Church with Catholic Rome. It is notable that metropolitan Isidor was one of the main actors of the Florentine sobor. He among the first to sign the union and persuaded the remaining orthodox bishops to sign.
Returning to Moscow, Isidor gave orders to carry in front of the procession a Latin cross, and during the first liturgy, he mention in the first place the Roman Pope Eugene. After a few days, a church sobor was called which condemned Metropolitan Isidor as a heretic and rejected the Florentine union. From this point on, in Russia, the relationship to the Greeks changed because they changed the faith of the fathers.
===Sobor of 1448===
At this sobor was interrupted the dependence of Russian church on the Constantinople patriarchate. At it,
Bishop Jonah of Ryazan, was solemnly proclaimed the Russian metropolitan. The sobor took place in the church of the St. Archangel Michael and was characterized by special solemnity. Many bishops, father superiors, priests and laymen were assembled at the sobor.
===The Sobor of 1492===
The Sobor of 1492 was convoked on the matter of the composition of a new Paschalion. At it were present all Russian hierarchs. The sobor determined to continue the Paschalion to eight thousand years.
===Sobor of 1503===
It took place in Moscow under Metropolitan Simon's chairmanship. It was attended by St. Nile Sorsky 's father, Joseph Volokolamsky, the Grand Duke John III and his son Basil. The sobor settled questions of postavleniya [?] in priests and piety of the monastic life. The sobor of 1504 finally condemned the heresy of the sect of Skhariya the Jew.
===Sobor of 1547===The history of the long and pious life of Russian church gave to the entire Christian world an example of many ascetics of God. The need for their canonization, the establishment of special holidays and days of remembrance led to the convocation of a special sobor. Under the chairmanship of St. Macarius at the sobor were glorified numerous Russian obsequious men, saints and miracle workers. Among them were canonized John archbishop of Novgorod, St. Prince Alexander Nevsky, Nikon abbot of Radonezhsky, St. Jonah Metropolitan of Moscow, Zosim Solovetsky, Makarius Kalyazinsky, St. Arseny bishop of Tver, St. Prince Peter and Princess Fevroniya Muromskaya. Following the sobor, by Metropolitan Macarius were comprised “the great Cheti-Minei” [?].
===Stoglavy Sobor of 1551===The Stoglavy sobor became the
perhaps brightest phenomenon of the history of the ancient Russian Orthodox church. At this sobor were present St. Metropolitan of Moscow Macarius, St. Philip, future prelate of Moscow, Saint Maxim the Greek, holy Gury , Barsonofius Kazan, St. Akaki the bishop of Tver , and others. Tsar Ivan Grozny [the Terrible] actively contributed to the convocation of sobor. More than 70 questions regarding all aspects of the church life were examined by the sobor: to divine service, to piety, to spiritual instruction, to church control and to law court, to the rules of Christian behavior , to the relations between the spiritual and secular authorities. At the sobor were confirmed many orthodox traditions including the dvuperstnoe [?] sign of the cross , and especial the aleluias. In the course of the sobor a committee drew up a collection of acts with 100 chapters. Specifically, on the basis of this collections, the sobor of 1551 obtained the name “Stoglavogo” or “Stoglava”. Issues developed at this sobor became the unique set of laws for the entire church life in the course of the subsequent 100 years. And today, after 450 years of its solution they have great authority among the Russian Christian Old Believers.
===The Sobor of 1581===
By the middle of the 17th century Greek and Russian church officials, including Patriarch Nikon, had noticed discrepancies between contemporary Russian and Greek usages. They reached the conclusion that the Russian Orthodox Church had, as a result of errors of incompetent copyists, developed rites and missal texts of its own that had significantly deviated from the Greek originals. Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church had become dissonant from the other Orthodox churches. Later research was to vindicate the Muscovite service-books as belonging to a different recension from that which was used by the Greeks at the time of Nikon, and the unrevised Muscovite books were actually older and more venerable than the Greek books, which had undergone several revisions over the centuries and ironically, were newer and contained innovations (Kapterev N.F., 1913, 1914; Zenkovskij S.A., 1995, 2006).
Nikon, supported by Tsar
[[Alexis I of Russia|Alexis I ]] (r. 1645-1676), carried out some preliminary liturgical reforms. In 1652, he convened a [[synod]] and exhorted the clergy on the need to compare Russian '' [[Typikon ]]'', ''[[Euchologion]]'', and other [[liturgical books ]] with their Greek counterparts. Monasteries from all over Russia received requests to send examples to Moscow in order to have them subjected to a comparative analysis. Such a task would have taken many years of conscientious research and could hardly have given an unambiguous result, given the complex development of the Russian liturgical texts over the previous centuries and an almost complete lack of textual historigraphic techniques at the time.
The ''[[locum tenens]]'' for the Patriarch, [[Pitirim of Krutitsy]], convened a second synod in 1666, which brought Patriarch [[Michael III of Antioch]], Patriarch [[Paisius of Alexandria]] and many [[bishop]]s to Moscow. Some scholars allege that the visiting patriarchs each received both 20,000 roubles in gold and furs for their participation (Zenkovskij S.A., 1995, 2006). This council officially established the reforms and anathematized not only all those opposing the innovations, but the old Russian books and rites themselves as well. As a side-effect of condemning the past of the Russian Orthodox Church and her traditions, the messianic theory depicting Moscow as the
[[Third Rome ]] appeared weaker. Instead of the guardian of Orthodox faith, Russia seemed an accumulation of serious liturgical mistakes.
Nevertheless, both Patriarch and Tsar wished to carry out their reforms, although their endeavours may have had as much or more political motivation as religious; several authors on this subject point out that Tsar Alexis, encouraged by his military success in the war against Poland-Lithuania to liberate West Russian provinces and the Ukraine, grew ambitious of becoming the liberator of the Orthodox areas which at that time formed part of the
[[Ottoman Empire]]. They also mention the role of the Near-East patriarchs, who actively supported the idea of the Russian Tsar becoming the liberator of all Orthodox Christians (Kapterev N.F. 1913, 1914; Zenkovsky S.A., 1995, 2006).
| Ісусъ || Іисусъ
| рождена, '''а''' не сотворена ''(begotten '''but''' not made)''; И в Духа Святаго, Господа''' истиннаго''' и Животворящаго ''(And in the Holy Ghost, the '''True''' Lord, the Giver of Life)'' || рождена, не сотворена ''(begotten not made)''; И в Духа Святаго, Господа Животворящаго ''(And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the Giver of Life)''
Notes on other differences
appear below. Modern readers may perceive these alterations as trivial, but the faithful of that time saw rituals and dogmas as strongly interconnected: church rituals had from the very beginning represented and symbolised doctrinal truth (see the section on ''Backgrounds'' below). Furthermore, the authorities imposed the reforms in an autocratic fashion, with no consultation of the people who would become subject to them, and the reaction against the so-called Nikonian reforms would have objected as much to the manner of imposition as to the actual alterations. In addition, changes often occurred arbitrarily in the texts. For example, wherever the books read 'Христосъ' ("Christ"), Nikon's assistants substituted 'Сынъ' ("the Son"), and wherever they read 'Сынъ' they substituted 'Христосъ'. Another example is that wherever the books read 'Церковь' ("Church"), Nikon substituted 'Храмъ' ("Temple") and vice-versa. The perceived arbitrariness of the changes infuriated the faithful, who resented needless change for the sake of change.
== The Schism or "Raskol" ==
After 1685 a period of persecutions began, including both torture and executions. Many Old Believers fled Russia altogether. However, Old Believers became the dominant denomination in many regions, including Pomorye (Arkhangelsk region), Guslitsy, Kursk region, the Urals, Siberia, etc. A compact 40,000-strong Lipovan community of Old Believers still lives in neighboring Kiliia raion (Vilkov) of Ukraine and Tulcea County of Romania in the Danube Delta. By the 1910s, about 25% of the population in Russia said that they belonged to one of the Old Believer branches.
Government oppression could vary from relatively moderate, as under
[[Peter the Great ]] (r. 1682-1725) (Old Believers had to pay double taxation and a separate tax for wearing a beard), to intense, as under Tsar [[Nicholas I of Russia|Nicholas I ]] (r. 1825-1855). The Russian synodal state church and the state authorities often saw Old Believers as dangerous elements and as a threat to the Russian state.
In 1905 Tsar [[Nicholas II of Russia|Nicholas II]] signed an Act of religious freedom, which ended the persecution of all religious minorities in Russia. The Old Believers gained the right to build churches, to ring church bells, to hold processions and to organize themselves. It became prohibited (as under
[[Catherine the Great ]] (reigned 1762 - 1796)) to refer to Old Believers as ''raskolniki'' (schismatics), a name they consider insulting. People often refer to the period from 1905 until 1917 as "the Golden Age of the Old Faith". One can regard the Act of 1905 as emancipating the Old Believers, who had until then occupied an almost illegal position in Russian society. Nevertheless some restrictions for Old Believers continued: for example, they had no right to join the civil service.
== Modern situation ==
[[Image:Evstafiev-old-believers-oregon-usa.jpg|thumb|250px|Russian Old Believers in Woodburn, Oregon. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev.]]
Within the Old-Believer world, only
[[Pomortsy ]] and [[Fedoseevtsy ]] treat each other relatively well; none of the other denominations acknowledge each other. Ordinary Old Believers display some tendencies of intra-branch [[ecumenism]], but these trends find sparse support among the official leaders of the congregations.
Nowadays, Old Believers live all over the world. They scattered mainly due to persecutions under the Tsars and due to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Significant Old-Believer communities exist in Plamondon, Alberta; Woodburn, Oregon; Erie, Pennsylvania; Erskine, Minnesota and in various parts of Alaska including near Homer (Voznesenka, Razdolna, and Kachemak Selo), Anchor Point (Nikolaevsk), Willow, the Palmer/Wasilla Area, Anchorage, Delta Junction, The Anton Larson Bay Area, and on Raspberry Island. A flourishing community also exists in Sydney, Australia.
== Old Believer groups ==
=== Popovtsy ===
Since none of the bishops joined the Old Believers (except Bishop Pavel of Kolomna, who suffered execution), apostolically ordained priests of the old rite would have soon become extinct. Two responses appeared to this dilemma: the “priestist” Old Believers (поповцы (''
[[Popovtsy ]]'')) and the non-priestist Old Believers (беспоповцы ( [[Bespopovtsy ]] — literally "priestless ones")).
The Popovtsy represented the more moderate conservative opposition, those who strove to continue religious and church life as it had existed before the reforms of Nikon. They recognized ordained priests from the new-style Russian Orthodox church who joined the Old Believers and who had denounced the Nikonian reforms. In 1846 they convinced Amvrosii Popovich (1791-1863), a deposed
[[Greek Orthodox ]] bishop whom Turkish pressure had had removed from his see at Sarajevo, to become an Old Believer and to consecrate three Russian Old-Believer priests as bishops. In 1859, the number of Old-Believer bishops in Russia reached ten, and they established their own [[episcopate ]], the [[Belokrinitskaya hierarchy]]. Not all priestist Old Believers recognized this hierarchy. Dissenters known as беглопоповцы (''beglopopovtsy'') obtained their own hierarchy in the 1920s. The priestist Old Believers thus manifest as two churches which share the same beliefs, but which treat each other's hierarchy as illegitimate. [[Popovtsy ]] have priests, bishops and all [[sacrament]]s, including the [[eucharist]].
[[Belokrinitskaya hierarchy ]] - The largest [[Popovtsy ]] denomination. One can refer to the Russian part of this denomination as the [[Belokrinitskoe Soglasie ]] (the "Belokrinitsky Agreement") or as the [[Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church]].
* Okruzhniki (extinct)
* Neokruzhniki (extinct)
* [[Beglopopovtsy]] (extinct, now the Russian Old-Orthodox Church)
* Luzhkane, also known as ''Luzhkovskoe soglasie'' (extinct). In some places, they had no priests and so belonged to
=== Bespopovtsy ===
The Bespopovtsy (the "priestless") rejected "the World" where
[[Antichrist ]] reigned; they preached the imminent end of the world, [[asceticism]], adherence to the old rituals and the old faith. The Bespopovtsy claimed that the true church of Christ had ceased to exist on Earth, and they therefore renounced priests and all sacraments except [[baptism]]. The Bespopovtsy movement has many sub-groups. [[Bespopovtsy ]] have no priests and no [[eucharist]].
[[Pomortsy ]] or Danilovtsy (not to be confused with Pomors) originated in North European Russia (Russian Karelia, Arkhangelsk region). Initially they rejected marriage and prayer for the Tsar.
* Novopomortsy, or "New Pomortsy" - accept marriage
* Staropomortsy, or "Old Pomortsy" - reject marriage
[[Fedoseevtsy]] – “Society of Christian Old Believers of the Old Pomortsy Unmarried Confession” (1690s- present); deny marriage and practise cloister-style asceticism.* [[Fillipovtsy ]].* [[Chasovennye ]] (from a word ''chasovnya'' - a chapel) - Siberian branch. The Chasovennye initially had priests, but later decided to change to a priestless practice. Also known as [[Semeyskie ]] (in the lands east of Baykal Lake).
====Bespopovsty: Minor groups====
Aside from these major groups, many smaller groups have emerged and died out at various times since the end of 17th century:
* ''Aristovtsy'' (beginning of 19th to the beginning of 20th centuries; extinct) - from the name of the merchant Aristov;
* ''Titlovtsy'' (extinct in 20th cent.) - emerged from
[[Fedoseevtsy ]], supported the use of [[Pontius Pilate |Pilate]]'s inscription upon the cross (''titlo''), which other groups rejected;* ''Troparion'' confession (troparschiki) - a group that commemorated the tsar in the hymns ( [[troparia ]]);
* Daniel’s confession of the “partially married” (''danilovtsy polubrachnye'');
* Adamant confession (''adamantovy'') - refused to use money and passports (as containing the seal of
* Aaron's confession (''aaronovtsy'') - second half of the 18th century, a spin-off of the Fillipovtsy.
* “Grandmother’s confession” or the Self-baptized - practiced self-baptism or the baptism by midwives (''babushki''), since the priesthood — in their opinion — had ceased to exist;
== Validity of the Reformist Theory: sources of Russian traditions ==
Vladimir officially converted the Eastern Slavs to Christianity in 988, and the people had adopted Greek Orthodox liturgical practices. At the end of 11th century, the efforts of St. Theodosius of the Caves in Kiev (''Феодосий Киево-Печерский'', d. 1074) introduced the Studite Typikon to Russia. This [[typikon]] reflected the traditions of the urban monastic community of the famous
[[Studion Monastery ]] in Constantinople. The Studite Typikon predominated throughout the western part of the [[Byzantine Empire ]] and was accepted throughout the Russian lands. In the end of 14th century, through the work of St. [[Cyprian of Moscow |Cyprian]], metropolitan of Moscow and Kiev, the Studite liturgical practices were gradually replaced in Russia with the ''Jerusalem Typicon'' or the ''Typicon of St. Sabbas'' - originally, an adaptation of the Studite liturgy to the customs of Palestinian monasteries. The process of gradual change of ''typica'' would continue throughout the 15th century and, because of its slow implementation, met with little resistance - unlike Nikon's reforms, conducted with abruptness and violence. However, in the course of 15th-17th centuries, Russian scribes continued to insert some Studite material into the general shape of ''Jerusalem Typicon''. This explains the differences between the modern version of the ''Typicon'', used by the Russian Orthodox Church, and the pre-Nikonian Russian recension of ''Jerusalem Typicon'', called ''Oko Tserkovnoe'' (Rus. "eye of the church"). This pre-Nikonian version, based on the Moscow printed editions of 1610, 1633 and 1641, continues to be used by modern Old Believers.
However, in the course of the polemics against Old Believers, the official [[Church of Russia
|Russian Orthodox Church]] often claimed the discrepancies (which emerged in the texts between the Russian and the Greek churches) as Russian innovations, errors, or arbitrary translations.
This charge of "Russian innovation" re-appeared repeatedly in the textbooks and anti-''raskol'' treatises and catecheses, including, for example, those by [[Dimitri of Rostov]]. The critical evaluation of the sources and of the essence of Nikonian reforms began only in the 1850s with the groundbreaking work of Nikolai F. Kapterev (1847-1917), continued later by Serge Zenkovsky. Kapterev demonstrated—for the first time to the wider Russian audience—that the rites, rejected and condemned by the Nikonian reforms, were genuine customs of the Orthodox Church which suffered alterations in the Greek usage during the 15th-16th centuries, but remained unchanged in Russia. The pre-Nikonian liturgical practices, including some elements of the Russian typicon, ''Oko Tserkovnoe'', were demonstrated to have preserved many earlier Byzantine material, being actually closer to the earlier Byzantine texts than some later Greek customs (Kapterev, N.F. 1913; Zenkovsky, S.A. 2006).
Both the popovtsy and bespopovtsy, although theologically and psychologically two different teachings, manifested spiritual, eschatological and mystical tendencies throughout Russian religious thought and church life. One can also emphasize the schism's position in the political and cultural backgrounds of its time: increasing Western influence, secularization, and attempts to subordinate the Church to the state. Nevertheless, the Old Believers sought above all to defend and preserve the purity of the Orthodox faith, embodied in the old rituals, which inspired many to strive against Patriarch Nikon’s church reforms even unto death.
In the past the Old Believers' movement was often perceived as an obscure faith in rituals that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of ignorant people. Old Beliers were accused of not being able to distinguish the important from the unimportant. To many people of that time, however, rituals expressed the very essence of their faith. Old Believers hold that the preservation of a certain "microclimate" that enables the salvation of one's soul requires not only living by the commandments of
[[Christ ]], but also carefully preserving Church tradition, which contains the spiritual power and knowledge of past centuries, embodied in external forms.
The Old Believers reject the idea of contents ''a priori'' prevailing over form. To illustrate this issue, the renowned Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky (1841–1911) referred to poetry. He argued, that if one converts a poem into prose, the contents of the poem may remain intact, but the poem will lose its charm and emotional impact; moreover, the poem will essentially no longer exist. In the case of religious rituals, form and contents do not just form two separable, autonomous entities, but connect with each other through complex relationships, including theological, psychological, phenomenal, esthetic and historic dimensions.
However, Russian economic history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries reveals the Old-Believer merchant families as more flexible and more open to innovations while creating factories and starting the first Russian industries.
==Similarities between Old Believers and Oriental Orthodox Christians==
''(These are not true with all Christian Churches)''
Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox Churches]] and the rest of Christendom ( [[Eastern Orthodoxy|Eastern Orthodox Churches ]] and the [[Roman Catholic Church]]) separated in 451 AD following the [[Council of Chalcedon]], striking similarities can be found today between the Old Believers Russian Orthodox Christians and the Oriental Orthodox Christians, such as the [[Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria|Copts]], the [[Armenian Apostolic Church|Armenians]], the [[Syriac Orthodox Church|Syriacs]], the [[Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church|Ethiopians]], and the [[Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church|Eritreans]].
This similarity can be attributed to the fact that both groups are much stricter than any other Christian denomination in resisting even the slightest changes to their liturgy, practices or Orthodox faith as it has been handed down to them by the fathers of the early Church in the first 4 centuries of Christianity.
Some of the most notable similarities between the Old Believers and the Oriental Orthodox Christians include the following:
* Both adhere strictly to the practice of
[[baptism ]] by three full immersions, and reject the validity of [[baptism ]] by sprinkling or pouring of water.
* Both reject any changes or emendations of liturgical or religious texts.
* Both employ monodic singing, as opposed to the polyphonic singing of most other Christian denominations.
* Both reject the use of modern realistic iconography, and adhere to the veneration of traditional icons.
* Both groups practice bows and prostrations during liturgical services, and do not kneel during prayer.
* The liturgical services of both the Old Believers and the
[[Oriental Orthodoxy|Oriental Orthodox ]] are considerably longer than those of other Christian denominations. These services can last for as long as eight hours on feast days.
* Preparation for communion is very strict for both groups and lasts for days prior to receiving the sacrament.
**Crummey, Robert O. ''The Old Believers & The World Of Antichrist; The Vyg Community & The Russian State'', Wisconsin U.P., 1970
**Gill, T. ''The Council of Florence'', Cambridge, 1959
": Russia - Ritual and Reform: The Liturgical Reforms of Nikon in the 17th Century ", St Vladimir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1991
**Zenkovsky, Serge A. "The ideology of the Denisov brothers", ''Harvard Slavic Studies'', 1957. III, 49-66
**Zenkovsky, S.: "The Old Believer Avvakum", ''Indiana Slavic Studies'', 1956, I, 1-51
**Zenkovsky, Serge A.: ''Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia'', Harvard U.P., 1960 and 1967
**Zenkovsky, S.: "The Russian Schism", ''
[[Russian Review ]]'', 1957, XVI, 37-58
w/ index.php?title=Old_Believers &oldid=144360416 Wikipedia:Old Believers] (accessed July 13, 2007)
*[http://www.rpsc.ru Russian Orthodox Old-Rite Church (official site of the Moscow Metropoly)]
*[http://www.starover.ee Old Believers in Estonia]
*[http://members.tripod.com/old_rite_orthodox/index.html Orthodox Kellion of the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius]
*[http://www.churchofthenativity.net/ Old Rite ROCOR Church of the Nativity]
[[Category:Old Believer Jurisdictions|*]]