VLADIMIR SOLOV'EV ON SPIRITUAL NATIONHOOD, RUSSIA AND THE JEWS
by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt
The Russian Review 56 (April 1997: 157-77
© 1997 The Ohio State University Press
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"Thus the absolute is nothing and everything (nichto i vse): nothing, insofar as it is no-thing, and everything, insofar as it cannot be deprived of anything. Both [the absolute as nothing/the absolute as everything] lead to the same conclusion, for everything that is no-thing is nothing, and, on the other hand, nothing that is (a positive nothing) can only be everything.
"This positive nothing, or the En-Sof of the Kabbalists, is the exact opposite of Hegel's negative nothing, or pure being (chistoe bytie), which is derived from simple abstraction or deprivation of all positive determinations."
This pole of the absolute is "the principle of unconditional unity or 'unityness' as such, the principle of freedom from all forms, from all manifestations, and, consequently, from all being.''
"We are distanced from the Jews because we are not yet fully Christian, and they are distanced from us because they are not yet fully Jews. The fullness of Christianity embraces itself and Judaism, and the fullness of Judaism is Christianity."
-- Vladimir Solov'ev on Spiritual Nationhood, Russia and the Jews, by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt
By the way, how can [N. Ia.) Danilevskii's [ultranationalist] theory explain that the purely Russian, Orthodox culture we share does not prevent you from being a Chinaman, and me -- a Jews? -- Solov'ev, letter to N. N. Strakhov, 1890
Despite the very Christian, indeed trinitarian nature of his religious philosophy, Vladimir Solov'ev (1853-1900) was known to call himself a Jew."  Because he believed that "to despise Judaism is folly, to quarrel with Jews is useless, it would be better to understand Judaism, although that may be more difficult," the great Christian theologian and philosopher of late nineteenth-century Russia learned to read Hebrew Scriptures, studied Talmud with a partner in the traditional yeshiva manner, and became an expert on Jewish mysticism.  By no means a blind Judeophile, he was nonetheless fascinated by the Jews throughout his adult life.  According to his friend, Sergei Trubetskoi, Solov'ev invoked the Jews even on his deathbed: "At one point, he said to my wife: 'Do not let me fall asleep, force me to pray for the Jewish people. I must pray for them,' and began to recite a Hebrew psalm in a loud voice." 
One historian understands Solov'ev's constant support of the Jews as a product of his sincere Christianity: "For Soloviev, the Christian attitude towards Jews was already fixed by Christ and his disciples in the first century A.D., and there is no need for any further development."  Solov'ev's Talmud instructor, Faivel' Gets, attributed Solov'ev's interest in the Jews not only to his Christian belief but also to the philosopher's understanding of the world as a whole: "Solov'ev's relationship to the Jewish question, in my opinion, was conditioned by his entire religious-philosophical world view, by his entire spiritual-ethical being."  Although the level of Solov'ev's interest in the Jews may have remained constant, we can nonetheless discern the development of interest in different aspects of Judaism and the Jewish people, shedding light, in turn, on his developing "spiritual-ethical being." In fact, in the statements above both Glouberman and Gets rely too heavily on Solov'ev's (albeit central) essay Jewry and the Christian Question, from 1884, and ignore other places where the Jews play a somewhat different role in his philosophical system. 
A proper analysis of Solov'ev's understanding of the Jews demands that we place it in the context of his entire oeuvre. Such a contextual study will show that Solov'ev's interest in the Jews goes well beyond the "Jewish question" and anti-Semitism. It in fact corresponded to his most central philosophical categories, variously expressed as reconciliation, integration, or interactive, organic wholeness (tsel'nost'), the meaning of which he worked out in his early ontological and epistemological formulations. He believed the Jews to be both spiritually and nationally integral (tsel'nyi) in their understanding of and relationship with God, in their national "personality," and in the institutions that arose because of that character.
The present study will show that Solov'ev moved from an interest in Judaism (iudeistvo), including questions of doctrine and the historical significance of the Israelites' understanding of God, to an interest in the "national character" of ancient and contemporary Jewry (evreistvo), ultimately arriving at an understanding of the Jews in terms of the active relationship between Judaism (their "spirituality") and Jewry (their "nationhood"). Thus, the Jews integrated two major strains in Solov'ev's philosophy: bogochelovechestvo —or the interaction of humanity and the divine—and theocracy (teokratiia)—the ideal structure of human society, subsuming Solov'ev's ideas on the Universal Church.  As a people both choosing and chosen by God, the Jews furthermore served Solov'ev as a model for Russia. Although he rejected self-proclaimed "patriotic" messianism when used to exclude or dominate others, whether on the part of the historical Jews or modern Russian nationalists, he continued to assert both Jewry's and Russia's potential for true "spiritual nationhood." 
Solov'ev's introduction to Judaism came through his interest in mysticism, which was fuelled by readings in Eastern and Western esoteric traditions at the Moscow Theological Academy in 1874 and the British Museum in 1875, and even more by his personal search for a language with which to articulate his own mystical visions. As Solov'ev argued in his early work, The Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge (1877), mysticism is the highest level of the highest sphere of human reality. Both his master's thesis and his doctoral dissertation critique Western modes of thought (labeled, variously, positivist, idealist or abstract) and present an alternative epistemology, drawing on the early Slavophiles' identification of integral (tsel'noe) knowledge, on faith integrated with reason.
Solov'ev first refers to Jewish mysticism, or Kabbalah, in defining the "absolute first principle" (absoliutnoe pervonachalo) or "that which absolutely is" (absoliutnosushchee):
Thus the absolute is nothing and everything (nichto i vse): nothing, insofar as it is no-thing, and everything, insofar as it cannot be deprived of anything. Both [the absolute as nothing/the absolute as everything] lead to the same conclusion, for everything that is no-thing is nothing, and, on the other hand, nothing that is (a positive nothing) can only be everything. (1:348)
Solov'ev includes a footnote to explain this paradoxical statement: "This positive nothing, or the En-Sof of the Kabbalists, is the exact opposite of Hegel's negative nothing, or pure being (chistoe bytie), which is derived from simple abstraction or deprivation of all positive determinations" (1:348-49, emphasis added).
Shortly thereafter, Solov'ev again refers to En-Sof which in Hebrew literally means "there is no end," this time as one pole of the absolute, which he defines as "the very absolute as such, or positive nothing (En-Sof) (1:350). This pole (polius, or, in a typical Solov'evian paradox, center [tsentr]) of the absolute is "the principle of unconditional unity or 'unityness' (edinichnost') as such, the principle of freedom from all forms, from all manifestations, and, consequently, from all being (bytie)'' (1:350). Such an absolute unity cannot truly exist, however, without manifesting itself as its opposite: multiplicity. The second pole, therefore, is the principle of the multiplicity of forms, the "stuff" of the absolute (sushchnost' ili prima materia absoliutnogo). It seems here that Solov'ev has limited En-Sof to a single side of the absolute, but he asserts that the ability to posit its opposite, the fact that positive nothing has the potential for being (bytie), reinforces, rather than diminishes, the power of the absolute. "Thus, it eternally finds its opposite in itself, so that only through a relationship to this opposite can it assert itself, so that it is perfectly reciprocal" (3:351). En-Sof, in other words, is eternal unity of self, integrally reconciled with its potential for eternal multiplicity.  As a term for "that which absolutely is," En-Sof helps Solov'ev define reality as an eternal, reciprocal relationship between the one and the many.
When Solov'ev returns to En-Sof in The Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge, he makes it yet more complex, for he uses it to label the "first principle" of the Trinity: "We reserve the name 'EnSof (positive nothing) for the first proper principle of the first center; we could not better express the proper character of the second principle than with the name 'Word' or 'Logos'; finally, the third principle we will call the 'Holy Spirit'" (1:358). Here we see that Solov'ev's use of the Jewish kabbalistic term is central to an expression of what he understood, at least in the first decade of his career, to be the "really real." With no explicit recognition that En-Sof might have a different meaning within a specifically Jewish context, Solov'ev appropriates this term from mystical Judaism to explain the universal structure of both ontological and theological reality.  En-Sof simplifies his task by providing a single term for a complex of contradictory ideas: nothing that is, a oneness that is infinitely multiple, an absolute essence utterly other yet fully immanent in life. Most importantly, the Hebrew word signals recognition, here perhaps only latent, that a Jewish term, precisely because it incorporates contradictions (that is, positive nothing), can best describe reality.
Beginning in January 1878, only two months after the last installment of The Philosophical Principles of Integral Knowledge, Solov'ev read his Lectures on Bogochelovechestvo before a packed audience in St. Petersburg. In these twelve lectures, we can recognize the origin of a lifelong search for terms to identify a third principle that reconciles the contradictions of reality by transforming them into an organic and integrated whole. Sophia, beauty, light, Eros, and, strangely, the Jews all take their turn at explaining what Solov'ev saw as bogochelovechestvo, a dynamic process of reconciliation between creation and Creator, leading to "spiritualized matter" and "embodied spirit." As he later wrote about the beauty of diamonds, borrowing traditional christological vocabulary: "In this unmerged, yet undivided union of matter and light, both preserve their nature, yet neither are visible in their separateness. What is visible is pure light-bearing matter and incarnated light: enlightened coal and petrified rainbow." 
There is no room here to investigate fully Solov'ev's many, and sometimes contradictory references to the Jews in Lectures on Bogochelovechestvo. What is clear, however, is Solov'ev's continued interest in the "absolute" of Judaism, here called more directly "God," and in the Israelites' relationship to that God. Unlike the gods of Indian Buddhism (where the divine principle is determined only "negatively"), or the gods of Greek Idealism (where it is determined only "objectively"), Solov'ev argues that Judaism provides a ''living God'' (3:70), a "divine principle in itself" that is "an actual reality for itself" that declares the "ideal all or the unconditional ideal" to be the unconditional principle itself, and not just "the property or content of the unconditional principle" (3:71). By contrasting "abstract" Idealism and "negative" Buddhism with the God of the Jews, Solov'ev begins to argue that Judaism is not just one of several historical stages, but a true reconciler, a "third element," that gives life to the divine principle. Through the God of Israel, the objective becomes subjective, the negative becomes personal (3:74).
Solov'ev claims that the God of Hebrew Scriptures is a true person or living lichnost' because of Its paradoxical reconciliation of contradictions:
Thus, the truth is obviously that the divine principle is not a person (lichnost') only in the sense that it is not exhausted by a personal determination, that it is not only one (edinoe), but is all (vse), is not only individual, but also an all-encompassing being (vseob"emliushchee sushchestvo), not only existence (sushchee), but also essence (sushchnost'). (3:73)
Like the "positive nothing" of Kabbalah, the God of Hebrew Scriptures thus reconciles unity with multiplicity.
Solov'ev's ideas here on the "positive revelation" of the "personal God" are only loosely tied to a national group.
[Dr. Huston Smith, Philosopher] Nominally, I was one of the guides as having had some experience with the substance. But all that went by the board when it turned out that I was one of the recipients of the psilocybin. For me, it was the strongest experience I have had of the personal god.
-- Fierce Grace, directed by Mickey Lemle -- Screenplay
He moves to a look at the actual Jewish people only later in the Lectures, with his analysis of the Old Testament prophets. As he prepared his lectures in the late 1870s, Solov'ev clearly did not yet know the difference between Hebrew Scriptures (TaNaKh)—in which the books of the prophets immediately follow the first five books of Moses—and the Old Testament, in which the books are organized so that the prophets come at the very end, forming a bridge to the New Testament. Because of his understanding of the structure of the Bible, he could see the Jewish prophets as a connecting link between the Old and the New. As a consequence of their "expansion of the religious principle," claims Solov'ev, the prophets also expanded the national Judaic (iudeiskoe) consciousness; all-human (obshchechelovecheskoe) consciousness replaced national egoism (3:79). The prophets, and not only their God, thus embodied, or reconciled within themselves, a crucial contradiction for Solov'ev:
And while the Jewish prophets were great patriots, completely infused with the national idea of Judaism, but precisely because they were completely infused with it, they had to understand it as universal (vseobshchaia), as meant for all, of sufficient magnitude and breadth to unite all of humanity and the whole world with an internal bond. (3:80)
Thus, the prophets were able to understand the God of the Jews as both a subjective "I" and an objective ideal, leading the Jewish people as a whole toward an integral, fully reconciled understanding of reality; the law turns into love, and the Jewish people, freed from "national exclusivity and egoism," exhibit both "true patriotism" and "true universalism" (3:80). Solov'ev never fully explains this paradox of Jewish particularism and universalism. Yet, as we will see, he reiterates the paradox repeatedly in his discussions both of the chosenness of Abraham, and of the potential for any uniquely personal, but nonetheless universal nation.
Could Russia be such a nation? In a lecture delivered in March 1881, following the assassination of Alexander II, Solov'ev called on the new tsar to spare the murderers in light of the "Christian ideal of forgiveness," thus launching his career in what he called "Christian politics," through which he developed his ideas on theocracy. 
"The Dalai Lama has never distanced himself from Miguel Serrano. Instead of decisively opposing fascism in any country, he recently called for the former Chilean State President and fascist, Augusto Pinochet, to be spared a trial."
-- The Shadow of the Dalai Lama, by Victor and Victoria Trimondi
He resigned his official teaching positions after the controversial lecture and moved away from his former conservative colleagues, devoting much of his time to journalism, largely in the Russian liberal press and abroad. Solov'ev's entrance into liberal journalism in the 1880s corresponded to a turn from the questions of epistemology and ontology discussed in his works of the 1870s toward an interest in social activism. He sought explanations of the structure of contemporary society, and elaborated his solution to its problems: the union of Eastern and Western Christianity following the dictates of "Christian politics." Such a union would lead to the establishment of a "Universal Church" and, ultimately, a united theocratic polity, devoid of isolating and hateful nationalism, but enriched by a plurality of peoples.
The Ars Vivendi principle of breathing up to the V in the forehead is the direct road towards the Light which shineth in Darkness, and is therefore the final and universal religion embracing all nations, all sects and all creeds in a comprehensive unity of Inspiration and Aspiration, for God is Light and God is Spirit, and they who worship must worship in the Light of the Holy Spirit of Breathing and Truth.
-- Ars Vivendi, by Arthur Lovell
We should not see this interest in politics as a change in philosophical conviction, however, since his vision of the structure of reality as described in his seemingly more esoteric works of the 1870s derives from a belief in the active nature of that reality and our ethical interaction with it. If religion is the principle that unites heaven and earth, as he stated in Lectures on Bogochelovechestvo (3:3, 12), it is always a social religion, a process that involves humanity in active development of bogochelovechestvo. We in fact already saw some of this movement in the Lectures of the late 1870s, as he moved from an initial discussion of Judaism to a growing interest in Jewry and the Jews, particularly the prophets and the apostles, and their historical, human institutions.
Conservatives accused the "new" Solov'ev of Westernizing tendencies, to the point of conversion to Catholicism. As Solov'ev makes abundantly clear in a number of forums, however, his interest in and, sometimes, praise of the West was not a rejection of Russia and Eastern Orthodoxy, but a vision of the reconciliation of East and West, as a model for the reconciliation of all. The Jews, now as Jewry (evreistvo) more than Judaism (iudeistvo) it turns out, play a vital role for Solov'ev in this process of reconciliation.
Solov'ev expressed his understanding of the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches in a series of articles collected as The Great Debate and Christian Politics (1883). Despite their inclusion in the threefold problematics of contemporary society identified in the introduction to the collection (the "Polish question," the "Eastern question," and the "Jewish question," 4:13), the Jews are curiously absent from the articles themselves, even from his discussion of the immediately pre-Christian world, where they belonged in Lectures on Bogochelovechestvo. Solov'ev withheld discussion of the "Jewish question" until 1884, when he inverts the traditional formulation and refers, instead, to Jews in terms of the Christian question.
Jewry and the Christian Question is not only a central work for any discussion of Solov'ev and the Jews, as has been noted; it is also crucial for a discussion of Solov'ev and Christianity, Solov'ev and Russia, and of Solov'ev and reality as a whole. Solov'ev begins this work explicitly on the Jews by accusing his fellow Christians, and especially Russian Christians, of anti-Semitic behavior. He thus frames this work on the Jews in social and political, rather than theological or doctrinal, terms, as he had done in his work of the 1870s. Even if we were to assert that Christian laws are good and Jewish ones are not, he writes, so much the worse is anti-Semitic behavior, for "if it is bad to be true to a bad law, then it is much worse to be untrue to a good law, to a commandment that is unconditionally perfect" (4:135).
Solov'ev openly states his premise: the Christians and the Jews are essentially one, united "on the real soil of spiritual and natural kinship and of positive religious interests."  Moreover, if we acknowledge that Christ is God, then we must acknowledge the Jews (iudei) to be a people who gave birth to God (4:141). It behooves us, writes Solov'ev, to better understand the Jews; only in that way can Russians be better Christians. "We are distanced from the Jews because we are not yet fully Christian, and they are distanced from us because they are not yet fully Jews. The fullness [or fulfillment, polnota] of Christianity embraces itself and Judaism, and the fullness of Judaism is Christianity" (4:139).
In all likelihood, neither the majority of Russians nor of Jews welcomed Solov'ev's views: the Russians because Solov'ev accuses them of un-Christian behavior (4:136); the Jews because Solov'ev insists on placing them within the process of bogochelovechestvo and the building of a decidedly Christian Universal Church. Indeed, like other sympathetic observers of Jewry of his time, Solov'ev ideally sought total conversion.  His outlook remained ever Russian and Orthodox; Solov'ev's unique understanding of the Jews confirmed his own, essentially Christian view of the world. We must recognize at this point that Solov'ev's writings on the Jews are significant less for proof of Judeophilia or -phobia, to which they have often been limited, and more for what they reveal about the whole of his philosophical stance.
Jewry and the Christian Question is divided into three parts, in order to ask three questions: Why was Christ a Jew? Why did the majority of Jews not recognize their savior? and Why was the strongest segment of the Jewish population moved to Russia and Poland and established on the border of the Greek-Slavic (Orthodox) and the Latin-Slavic (Catholic) worlds? (4:141). In answer, Solov'ev does not question that the Jews are God's chosen people. The Bible asserts that they are chosen, Christ was born among them, and there must be an explanation for this, to be found in their national character. Why would God choose them? As is typical of his triadic thinking, Solov'ev finds the Jewish character to be composed of three elements: a deep religiosity; an extreme development of its own national, familial, and personal Ego (in the form of samochuvstvie, samosoznanie and samodeiatel'nost'); and an extreme materialism (4:142). Although these traits seem contradictory—How can one be spiritual and materialist at the same time? How can one fully love God and oneself at the same time?—the very fact of paradox allows the possibility of reconciliation so important for Solov'ev's metaphysics since Lectures on Bogochelovechestvo. As opposed to the one-sided character of Buddhism (an overwhelming feeling of divine unity at the expense of human individuality) and of Humanism on the other extreme (an unbalanced development of the human principle at the expense of the divine), "in Judaism all this lives together, in no way destroying the integrity of the national character" (4:143). It is no coincidence that Solov'ev uses the same term for the integrity of the Jewish character (tsel'nost') as he had for the type of knowledge he deems is necessary for comprehension of reality in The Philosophical Principles of Integral [tsel'noe] Knowledge.
In what sense are the Jews integral? They are neither divided among themselves, nor fused into a monolithic whole; they neither deny a personal God, nor attempt to lose themselves in One. It is not a Jewish principle, Solov'ev tells us, to merge with God, to disappear into Its unity; the goal of religious life, rather, is "personal interaction between the divine and the human I." Here Solov'ev emphasizes a very Jewish interpretation of Judaism's defining principle: the concept of covenant (Hebrew: brit). God chose the Jews because the Jews chose God: "God-That-Is made Israel Its nation because Israel made God-That-Is its own." Solov'ev recognizes that a covenant requires two partners; it must be a mutual agreement (soiuznyi dogovor). Most significantly: "The phenomenon is unique in all of world history, for the religion of no other people accepted this form of union or covenant between God and humanity, as between two beings although not of equal strength, nonetheless morally akin'' (4:144).
A strong God chooses a strong partner, a partner with whom It can wrestle.  Thus the Jewish God is a personal God, and chooses a partner with an equally sure sense of personhood; "God-Who-Is-Holy unites with a person who seeks holiness and who is capable of an active moral holy deed" (4:145). As for the Jews' materialism, this too is holy, claims Solov'ev, for through it the Jewish people manifest the ideal of holy corporeality (sviataia telesnost').  The sacred matter Solov'ev here describes is in fact the reconciling ideal of bogochelovechestvo: the iaterpenetration of divine and human, the incarnation of the spirit together with transfiguration of the flesh.
To answer his first question, Solov'ev thus asserts:
Firmly believing in God-Who-Is, Israel attracted to itself the manifestation and revelation of God; believing as well in itself, Israel could enter into a personal relationship with Yehovah, could stand before Him face to face, could conclude a covenant with Him, could serve Him not as a passive instrument, but as an active partner. Finally, by the strength of that same active faith that strives toward the ultimate realization of its spiritual principle, through the purification of material nature, Israel prepared within itself a pure and holy dwelling for the incarnation of God-the-Word.
This is why the Jews (evreistvo) are the chosen people of God; this is why Christ was born a Jew. (4:150)
How could a people whom God felt was so right go so wrong and not accept Christ? asks Solov'ev in the second part. The problem does not lie in the national character per se, he suggests, but only in the balance of its three parts. The Jews' national sense of self (natsional'noe samochuvstvie), originally so attractive to God, turned into national egoism (natsional'nyi egoizm); because of an overabundant belief in themselves, they missed the truth of the Bogochelovek (4:151). Jews share a goal with Christians ("The final goal for Christians and Jews is one and the same: universal theocracy, the realization of divine law in the human world, the incarnation of the divine in the earthly" [4:156; see also 4:160]), but, historically, they missed the path to that goal: the cross (4:156-57).
Solov'ev blames the Jews' failure to take up the cross on two related points: an imbalance in the triadic national character, so that sense of self becomes egoism; and a resultant reliance on the form of worship over its essence:
[They] were concerned not only with the purity and holiness of their physical nature, but also with the justification of their national spirit. But those who upheld the Jewish laws looked on the very process of that justification more in terms of form than essence. The [Jews at the time of Christ] sought union with God by means of an external conditional agreement, and not by internal deification based on the way of the cross, through moral holy deed, through personal and national self-renunciation. (4:157-58)
Thus, an imbalance in the character of Jewry (evreistvo) led to a misunderstanding of Judaism (iudeistvo), a doctrine, as he had defined, which reconciles self-renunciation (that is, complete devotion to God), with a fully developed sense of self. Because in this work Solov'ev is increasingly interested in Jewry, and despite this foray into doctrinal issues of Judaism and Christianity, he makes a somewhat slippery transition to a discussion of a different sort of balance, that between the three administrative organs required of a "righteous society," which he later calls theocracy (4:160). Three organs must govern society in cooperation: "The priest directs (napravliaet), the tsar administers (upravliaet), and the prophet corrects (ispravliaet)." 
According to Solov'ev, the three have always existed in Jewish society, but not always in equal proportions; the "Judaic (Old Testament) theocracy" possessed priest (since the time of Aaron) and tsar (from the time of Saul), but the first two were overshadowed by the last: prophet (4:161-62). Thus, historically, the Jewish contribution to the "history and future of theocracy," as he will call it in a work of 1885-87, is largely through its prophetic spirit. Solov'ev does not explain how he has moved from a discussion of the integral nature of the triadic Jewish national character to an assertion of one of its "spirits," nor how the "prophetic spirit" is related to the Jews' acceptance or nonacceptance of Christ. Instead, he now associates the Jewish people (evreistvo) solely with the principle of prophecy, and thus answers his third question regarding their migration to the border of the Greek-Slavic (Russian Orthodox) and the Latin-Slavic (Polish Catholic) worlds: "Into the midst of these two religious nations [Orthodox Russia and Catholic Poland], each having its own special theocratic idea [tsar and priest, respectively], history has thrust a third religious people that also possesses its own form of theocratic presentation [prophet]: the people of Israel (narod izrail'skii)" (4:172).
In framing the issue in these geopolitical terms, Solov'ev claims that anti-Semitism, the alleged topic of Jewry and the Christian Question, is not a question of conflicting national characters, nor of incompatible theological models (that is, covenant and cross), but a result of the schism within Christianity. Reconciliation of East and West, by means of the Jews as the third principle, will then obviate the entire "Jewish question," just as Solov'ev had claimed it would obviate the Polish and Islamic questions in The Great Debate and Christian Politics.
The modern Jewish people therefore serve as a reconciling link between the two opposing Christian/Slavic nations, lending to the latter's respective priestly and kingly principles their own principle of prophecy. Indeed, they are more than a link, for, as the third, reconciling principle, they actively create a new reality, transforming one-sided tsar and one-sided priest into an integral theocracy. In addition, these contemporary Jews, like their biblical ancestors, by their very materialism practice the principle of "holy corporeality," a vital aspect of bogochelovechestvo.
In the several years following Jewry and the Christian Question, Solov'ev wrote two more important works based on his Judaic studies, one on the Talmud and the other on the Torah. At the same time, Solov'ev was writing the essays on Russia collected in the two volumes of The National Question in Russia. As we will see, his research into Judaism's written documents infused these essays, in which he discusses the "chosenness" of Russia by means of a comparison to the chosenness of Israel.
In 1885, Solov'ev published "The Talmud and Recent Polemical Literature on It in Austria and Germany." Anti-Semitism in Central Europe took perhaps a more dangerous path than did the popular anti-Semitism of Russia and Poland, although the latter erupted in violent pogroms, and the former remained purely "intellectual." Nineteenth-century Germany was the center of the new Bible criticism, in which linguistic and historical "proof" of the nondivine origins of much of the Old Testament often turned to anti-Semitic polemics against the Jews. Some of the same scholars turned their attention to the Talmud, and in it found proof of fanatic Jewish exclusivity, immorality and injunctions to hate non-Jews. At best, the Talmud was seen as a retreat from and perversion of the Mosaic laws. Because its supposed proofs were erudite and academic, this German anti-Semitism achieved a certain legitimacy among intellectuals. In his review of some of this work, however, Solov'ev attempted to use the scholars' weapons against them. As in Jewry and the Christian Question, Solov'ev calls on enemies of the Jews to abide by their own precepts and to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," identified by the author as "the highest rule of Judeo-Christian morality (iudeisko-khristianskaia moral'). 
Solov'ev repeats several times that the Talmud was the literary expression of the Jews' special religious-national character (religiozno-natsional' noe obosoblenie) after the destruction of the Temple (77 CE.) and their loss of political independence (6:4, 11). In this statement we can find the crux of Solov'ev's mature definition of the Jews; they are both a religious and a national people, even when deprived of land and political power. The Torah and the Talmud, documents which declare the spiritual doctrine of Judaism, guarantee that unique religious-national identity of Jewry.
Solov'ev quotes from the Talmud to prove that, far from requiring hatred of non-Jews, the most important post-Biblical Jewish document always gives credit to and demands respect for non-Jews.  In fact, Solov'ev places too much emphasis on the ethical teachings of the Talmud (and glosses over those problematic passages that do indeed suggest a kind of militant exclusivity), but he does perceptively identify a guiding principle: the important practical role of humans, imperfect as we may be, in carrying out the word of God (6:15). The Talmud, he tells us, brings all details of personal and social life into religious law (6:16); we might say that the Talmud reconciles Judaism with Jewry in the sense Solov'ev has used the terms. Solov'ev does see a problem, however: the rabbis of the Talmud relied too heavily on the formalism of law, so that law (Solov'ev uses both Russian and Hebrew: formal'nye uzakoneniial halakhah) came to outbalance grace (milost'/chesed) and truth (pravda/emet). As was the case in answering the question of why the majority of Jews did not accept the Messiah, about whom they themselves, prophesied, the problem here is not in principle, but in balance. As we will shortly see, just as the neo-Slavophiles or "pseudo-Christians" came to glorify form over essence (cf. 5:394), so Jews at the time of Christ lost sight of their organic union of spirit and flesh, of religion and history, of humanity and nation, to which the Talmud in fact gives witness (6:16). But this imbalance in no way negates the inherent truth of the Jewish law.
This truth, Solov'ev repeatedly asserts, is a truth of unity despite diversity (6:16). Most significantly, the union is an organic reconciliation of opposing principles; Jews, he reminds us, are paradoxically accused of nationalism and cosmopolitanism. But, "the fact is that the very national idea of the Jews has a notable degree of universal significance" (6:17-18). The Jews represent a "religious-national unity" (religiozno-natsional'noe edinstvo, 6:19), as well as form the "axle of universal history," "the trunk to the branches" of other religions and peoples (6:19, 18), Here again is the crux of Solov'ev's understanding of the Jews: spiritual and material, as is bogochelovechestvo; national and universal, as are the theocratic ideal and the Universal Church.
Anti-Semitism as defined in this essay is largely a case of the Christians accusing Jews of their own sins, and Solov'ev accuses Russian Christians in particular of hypocrisy (6:24). As opposed to the spiritual wholeness of the Jewish nation (religiozno-natsional'noe edinstvo), Russians suffer from religious-national separatism (religiozno-natsional' noe obosoblenie, 6:24). To convince Jews of Christian rightness before God, Christians would have to practice what they preach, for the Jews are a practical people; they do not separate theory from practice, or service of God from love of man (6:30). The greatest rejection of the Gospels, as always throughout the 1880s for Solov'ev, was the schism between the Churches. Mistaken Jewish exclusivity as expressed in the early Christian, talmudic period has not yet lost its meaning: "It stands to this day as a living reproach to the Christian" (6:32). "The calamity for us is not in the excessive working of the Talmud, but in the insufficient working of the Gospels" (6:32). Thus, by turning against his fellow Christians that with which they condemn the Jews, Solov'ev deflates their anti-Semitism. He praises Jewish practical activity, social consciousness and, above all, "religious-national" identity, insofar as it is a unity of multiplicity and a reconciliation of matter and spirit, humanity and God. 
It is in the second major work to result from his study of Jewish texts in the 1880s that Solov'ev begins to explore the question of chosenness, toward which the present study— and Solov'ev's own writings on Russia—lead. Through a detailed commentary on Hebrew Scriptures, in The History and Future of Theocracy: An Investigation of the World-Wide Historic Path to True Life (1885-87), Solov'ev traces the development of theocracy, elaborating on his earlier identification of the Jews with active religiosity and claiming that, under King Solomon, they were the only nation to experience the true balance of priest, tsar and prophet that will be known again in the future theocracy. He uses the model of the Jews to buttress many of his central arguments: humanity is intimately connected to both the spiritual and the material worlds (4:339, 342); man was created so as to stand "face to face" with God (4:340); humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is good, so that the Fall was a fall in deed, not in essence (4:347, 348, 357).
Referring to God's choice of Abraham, Solov'ev states, "One is chosen not to the shame of the rest, but rather for their blessing. One is chosen from the midst of all, but for the sake of all" (4:360). Thus Abraham's chosenness was not a case of arbitrary exclusivity, but a necessary outgrowth of his "ability to become the head of the theocratic fate of humanity" "Here is the foundation of chosenness, here is the principle of theocracy—a divine-human (bogochelovecheskoe) principle—the free interaction between Creator and creation" (4:363). With the Bible as authority, Solov'ev asserts that Judaism was the first and necessary origin of bogochelovechestvo. At its start, and still at the heart of bogochelovechestvo, lies the question of individual versus universal selfhood, of Abraham chosen as one, but one for all. The assertion of this paradox of the reconciliation of self and universe, with the Jews as model, repeats throughout (cf. 4:385, 391).