Earthly Paradise in the Religious Ideas of Old Rus'

Vladimir Milkov
2020 Quaestio Rossica  
This article examines the Old Russian ideas about the other world and various interpretations of the earthly paradise. The author focuses on the content of Orthodox, apocryphal, and legendary texts about the other world, referring both to published and archival sources. The article reviews and compares texts that describe the other world and the path to earthly paradise, including Epistle about Paradise, The Legend of St Macarius the Roman, Zosima's Journey to Rahmans, Agapius' Journey to
more » ... se, Is Paradise Sensuous or Sensible?, About Paradise Rivers, Questions and Answers of St Athanasius to Antiochus, The Explanatory Palaea, A Word about the Righteous Creed, etc. Issues connected with the other world are studied with an interdisciplinary approach, i. e. the ideological and religious interpretation is combined with the methods of specific historical and textual analysis. It is established that there was no common understanding of the other world in Old Rus', which is reflected in arguments about paradise. There were three concepts of the nature of paradise: earthly paradise; paradise as a noumenal and inaccessible entity; and paradise created by God for the forefathers, half heavenly and ethereal in nature. Vasily Kalika, the author of the Epistle about Paradise, was a supporter of the concept of paradise located on an island in a distant sea. Kalika's argument was based on data from church sources, apocrypha, and "eyewitness'" evidence. The archbishop considered literary and folklore stories about journeys to the earthly paradise the most important proof of the existence of an earthly paradise. The author concludes that belief in an earthly paradise in Russia was formed under the influence of Antiochian theology, apocryphal travels to paradise, and folk legends about reaching the edge of the world. Bishop Vasily Kalika and his flock's religious ideas are a synthesis of Orthodox, apocryphal, and pre-Christian ideas.
doi:10.15826/qr.2020.1.445 fatcat:wmwuhpdqhve4llg64kihzbep54