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Religion and Language in Post-Soviet Russia

by: Brian P. Bennett
published by
: Routledge
pp: 214
ISBN: 9781138657267 Paperback
price: £34.99

Book's frontpage

Church Slavonic, one of the world's historic sacred languages, has experienced a revival in post-Soviet Russia. Blending religious studies and sociolinguistics, this is the first book devoted to Church Slavonic in the contemporary period. It is not a narrow study in linguistics, but uses Slavonic as a passkey into various wider topics, including the renewal and factionalism of the Orthodox Church; the transformation of the Russian language; and the debates about protecting the nation from Western cults and culture. It considers both official and popular forms of Orthodox Christianity, as well as Russia's esoteric and neo-pagan traditions. Ranging over such diverse areas as liturgy, pedagogy, typography, mythology, and conspiracy theory, the book illuminates the complex interrelationship between language and faith in post-communist society, and shows how Slavonic has performed important symbolic work during a momentous chapter in Russian history. It is of great interest to scholars of sociolinguistics and of religion, as well as to Russian studies specialists.


Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Religion, language, religious language
3. Az, buki, vedi: the ABC’s of religious literacy
4. Translator, traitor? the debate over liturgical language
5. Logos: Slavonic letterforms and the graphic environment
6. From Marx and Lenin to Cyril and Methodius
7. Scripting Russian history: alphabet mysticism and conspiracy theory


"One of the many virtues of Brian Bennet’s book is that he views the many changes in Russian society through a rather neglected perspective: the prism of language… The book is an interesting and well written contribution to the literature on religious (and socio-linguistic) developments in present-day Russia."
- Annika Hvithamar, University of Southern Denmark, 2012

"Brian Bennett’s sound academic research is copious and abounds in expressive empirical details… A well-balanced and thoroughly documented style, pinpointing a tremendously rich and revealing aspect of a culture in flux and drawing attention to the linguistic dilemmas behind the society’s quest for identity."
- Alexander Agadjanian; Slavic Review, Vol. 71, No. 4 (WINTER 2012)

"Brian Bennett offers a compelling, in-depth study that reminds us that the very language that serves as one of the defining visual features of the institution has experienced a long and contentious history of politicization… ln all. Religion and Language in Post-Soviet Russia offers an outstandingly researched examination ofthe contemporary cultural history of Church language, thoroughly grounded in the history of both the Church and the language."
- Michael S. Gorham, University of Florida; Slavic and East European Journal 2013


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