VOYTENKO A.A. “This Scandal Could Last for Months”. Stages and Outcome of the Conflict of G.P. Fedotov with the Board of St. Sergius Orthodox Institute in Paris in 1939

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.6.6

Anton A. Voytenko

Candidate of Sciences (History), Leading Researcher,

Centre for Egyptological Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences,

Prosp. Leninskiy, 29, bld. 8, 119071 Moscow, Russian Federation

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3895-9909


Abstract. Introduction. The paper investigates the stages and outcome of the conflict of Georgy Fedotov with the Board of the Orthodox Institute in Paris (first half of 1939). Methods and materials. The paper focuses on the published materials of G. Fedotov’s correspondence during the conflict, as well as on his article To Defense of Ethics, the article by Nikolay Berdyaev, Yu. Semenov’s brief article and memoirs. Analysis. It can be established that the conflict had two stages of its development. Tactics by Fedotov and his supporters in the first stage was to organize a broad campaign in his defense in the emigre press. However, due to the position of P. Milyukov and the newspaper Poslednie Novosti, the tactics failed, and the position of Fedotov’s opponents on the Board were strengthened. In the second phase of the conflict, Fedotov and a group of his supporters changed tactics. Now the idea of organizing a campaign in the foreign press and the promulgation of information on the conflict to the foreign sponsors of the Institute had put in the forefront. A publication of N. Berdyaev’s article in Fedotov’s protection in the journal Put had played a principal role in the second phase of the conflict. The Board members feared a further publicity of the conflict and chose to cease it: they did not remove Fedotov’s reprint, but he was allowed to teach at the Institute, and the issue of his expulsion had no longer been risen. Fedotov subsequently published an article To Defense of Ethic, where he attempted to understand the basic reasons for the behavior of his opponents and his ideological differences with them. Fedotov was inclined to see the reasons for their actions in the ideology of “Church Revival” (i.e. orthodox modernism), the main feature of which was the replacement of ethics with aesthetics, which is expressed in understanding of monastic asceticism as moral theology. From his point of view, the application of the principles of asceticism to the behavior of a Christian in the world crashes inevitably and leads either to inactivity or to conformism. The Christians, refusing to elaborate independent moral teaching for life in the world, are not able to meet the actual challenges. Results. Based on the studied materials, it can be concluded that Fedotov’s conflict was a conflict with the whole Board of the Institute, and not with its individual members. The underlying causes of the conflict lay in the ideological differences between Fedotov and the members of the Board. The author of the article argues with the recently expressed point of view that the conflict did not have some fundamental reasons, only the position of Fedotov’s wife played the decisive role in its later interpretations (published materials of Fedotov’s correspondence do not confirm it). The author also argues with the established point of view that the beginning of the Second World War played the main role in resolving the conflict. In his oppinion, the beginning of the war did not affect the conflict, because all the important decisions had been made a few months earlier.

Key words: history of Russian emigration, Georgy Petrovich Fedotov, St. Sergius Orthodox Institute in Paris, Nikolay Alexandrovich Berdyaev, philosophy of ethics, Bakhmetyev’s archive (Columbia University, USA).

Citation. Voytenko A.A. “This Scandal Could Last for Months”. Stages and Outcome of the Conflict of G.P. Fedotov with the Board of St. Sergius Orthodox Institute in Paris in 1939. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2018, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 94-106. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2018.6.6.

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“This Scandal Could Last for Months”. Stages and Outcome of the Conflict of G.P. Fedotov with the Board of St. Sergius Orthodox Institute in Paris in 1939 by Voytenko A.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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