Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev

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Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev

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Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev
by Maria Carlson



-- History, Sophia and the Russian Nation, A Reassessment of Vladimir Solov'ev's Views on History and His Social Committment, by Manon de Courten
-- Vladimir Soloviev and the Jews in Russia, by Walter G. Moss
-- Vladimir Solov'ev on Spiritual Nationhood, Russia and the Jews, by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt
-- On Tyranny, by Leo Strauss
-- The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, by Sergyei A. Nilus
-- The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, by Maurice Joly, commentary by John S. Waggoner
-- De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri, edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry
-- The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston Stewart Chamberlain
-- Occult Roots of the Russian Revolution, by New Dawn International News Service,
-- Pistis Sophia, translated by G.S.R. Mead
-- Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry

Chapter 2: Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev, by Maria Carlson (pp. 49-67), from Russian Religious Thought, Edited by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt & Richard F. Gustafson

Prayer of the Revelation of the Great Mystery
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Ain-Soph, Jah, Soph-Jah

In the name of the Unutterable, Awesome, and All-powerful, I call upon gods, demons [daimons] men, and all living creatures. Gather into one the rays of your power, block the path of the source of your own desires, and become partakers of my prayer, that we may capture the pure Dove of Zion and acquire the priceless pearl of Ophir, that the roses may unite with the lilies in the valley of Sharon. O most holy Divine Sophia, essential image of the beauty and sweetness of the transcendent God, the bright body of Eternity, the Soul of worlds and the one Queen of all souls, by the inexpressible profundity and grace of thy first Son and beloved, Jesus Christ, I implore thee: descend into the prison of the soul, fill our darkness with thy radiance, melt away the fetters that bind our spirit with the fire of thy love, grant us light and freedom, appear to us in visible and substantial form, incarnate thyself in us and in the world, restoring the fullness of the Ages, so that the deep may be confined and that God may be all in all.

-Vladimir Solov'ev, "Album I [MS]." 1875 [1]

Vladimir Soloviev wrote the "Sophia Prayer" in London in 1875, where he had been sent by the administration of Moscow University specifically "to study the monuments of Indian, gnostic, and medieval philosophy at the British Museum" (Sergei Solov'ev 113). The Sophia Prayer is only one of several textual clues that provide justification for Dmitry Merezhkovsky's observation in 1908 that "Vladimir Soloviev is a gnostic, possibly the last great gnostic of all Christianity" (Merezhkovskii 133). Merezhkovsky meant to imply by his comment not that Soloviev had become a heretic in the eyes of the Orthodox Church by embracing a mystical, heretical doctrine, but that he came to religion by meditation, intuition and spiritual cognition rather than by either faith or willed and pragmatic action (Merezhkovskii 132). A modern reader of Soloviev might add that behind Merezhkovsky's observation stood a highly specific, Neoplatonic world view shared by both Soloviev and Merezhkovsky, as well as by other representatives of the God-seeking intelligentsia of the Russian religious renaissance.

Merezhkovsky's comment on Soloviev does not imply that Soloviev identified, adopted, and mechanically applied a specifically gnostic doctrine in his work, although he was without question familiar with the theological and historical contours of that doctrine and found certain aspects of it congenial to his own thought. Vladimir Soloviev, however, was by no means the first intellectual to be seduced by the poetry of the gnostic cosmogony, by the concept of the primacy of Sophia Wisdom over the Creation, or by the psychic power of gnostic imagery and mythology (which can be very powerful indeed). Being a profoundly creative man, Soloviev was creative in his appreciation of gnostic concepts, particularly of the gnostic Sophia.

Soloviev's work contains a certain base of assumptions and uses terminology so highly evocative of the gnostic tradition that the latter's influence cannot be lightly dismissed. An examination of this tradition can only serve to clarify Soloviev's choice of terminology and to focus certain concepts more precisely, although it is bootless to look for complete coincidence between Soloviev's sophiology and that of the various streams of Christian gnosticism. For the sake of limiting this potentially boundless discussion of gnostic influences on Soloviev's thought, I would like to address broadly one theme: the influence of gnostic cosmogony (i.e., the hypothesis of creation and evolution) on Soloviev's thought. The material presented on the following pages is by no means exhaustive; it serves only to initiate the discussion of Soloviev's gnostic tendencies by pointing out certain curious parallels between the best-known gnostic speculation, the Valentinian gnosis, and Soloviev's own sophiology. The ramifications of the discussion, however, are manifold, for the seed of gnostic sophiology, nurtured by Soloviev, would bear fruit in the theology of Sergei Bulgakov and other contemporary sophiologists, none of whom are entirely free of this heretical doctrine.

Many contemporary discussions of gnosticism (outside professional religious/philosophical contexts) reduce it to mere pantheistic dualism or to a simplistic cosmic struggle between Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, or between Spirit and Matter. Gnosticism is in fact a far more complex and sophisticated phenomenon, its arcane texts presenting a variety of both Christian and non-Christian formulations and dealing with many subjects in addition to the origin of things and the nature of God. A highly developed Christian gnosis frequently appears to have much in common with traditional Christianity, and Christian gnostics enthusiastically claimed Jesus Christ as their own. Jesus, after all, wrote down no doctrine himself; the Scriptures were written by others who lost, suggest the gnostics, the real meaning of his message. [2] Being highly syncretistic, however, gnosticism freely added Judaic, Buddhist, Egyptian, and Persian elements to the Christian mystery. The differences among the various systems of gnosis, such as Manicheanism, Mandeanism, and Barbelo-gnosticism, or Ophitic and Basilidean gnosticism (not to mention later incarnations, such as the Bogomil or Albigensian doctrines of the Middle Ages or the modern Theosophists), can be considerable, and tracing their specific influence is no simple task.

Tracing gnostic influence is further complicated by the dearth of concrete texts and reliable sources. Until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi "library" in Egypt in 1945, original sources were relatively few. Only a handful of purportedly gnostic manuscripts or contemporary works about gnosticism existed at the turn of the century. These included the Coptic fragments of the Pistis Sophia (discovered in the late eighteenth century and held in the British Museum, where Soloviev probably saw them), The Two Books of Jeu (also called The Book of the Great Mysterious Logos), parts of the Corpus Hermeticum, the Odes of Solomon, and the "Hymn of the Pearl," to mention the best known. Most of the information on gnosticism available to Soloviev would still have come from the works of the early heresiologists Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Clement of Alexandria. These Fathers of the Church wrote extensively on the gnostics, and several of them (notably Irenaeus) had studied the Valentinian speculation in great detail, citing extensively from now lost sources. Additional gnostic themes and elements are found in the writings of the mystical theologians most admired by Soloviev: Origen, Saint Maximus the Confessor, and Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite (whose works incorporated or discussed various Neoplatonic and gnostic elements and who placed special emphasis on the doctrine of theosis, or the deification of man). Soloviev, who studied at the Moscow Spiritual Academy as well as at Moscow University, would have been familiar with this body of literature.

Soloviev was also well versed in the literature of mysticism (oriental Buddhism, Hebrew Kabbalah, and various occidental streams) and theology (patristic and modern). His knowledge clearly extended to the literature of Neoplatonism. In the British Museum Soloviev additionally read the Renaissance "theosophists," such as Jakob Boehme (1573-1624), and very likely was familiar with Boehme's disciples John Pordage (1607-1681), Johann Georg Gichtel (1638-1710), and Gottfried Arnold (1666-1714), author of Geheimnisse der gottlichen Sophia (Leipzig, 1700). Finally, Vladimir Soloviev had read the works of his brother Vsevolod's eccentric acquaintance, Mme. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), founder of the Theosophical Society and creative architect of a compelling modern gnostic gospel. Her first major work, The Secret Doctrine (1888), claimed to be just such a "synthesis of science, religion, and philosophy" as Soloviev's "grand synthesis" or "universal religion," which was to reorient all of human knowledge and redefine metaphysics based on a modern reading of secret ancient models. This striving to re-cognize and reunite the various elements of a lost tradition fragmented by the ravages of modern positivism and pragmatism, to discover the single and harmonious metaphysical Truth that underlies all material complexity, is a basic feature of gnostic systems, past and present; this same syncretic impulse is everywhere present in Soloviev.

Thus Soloviev's own philosophical thought, which appears to be as eclectic and syncretistic as gnosticism itself, was opened early in his life to the entire tradition of metaphysical speculation (he was a young and impressionable twenty-two when he went to London to work in the British Museum). The mature Merezhkovsky, no casual heretic himself, must have easily recognized the gnostic roots of the cosmogony Soloviev originally considered and then repeatedly refined, divesting it of its more sensational mythological elements and adding contents from other systems. Neither did Soloviev's younger contemporaries, the second generation of symbolists (the "philosophers"), view Soloviev's eclectic mix of gnostic, idealist, and mystic thought with esoteric Christianity as at all inconsistent. Andrei Belyi, one of Vladimir Soloviev's most devoted admirers, brightly observed that, after all, "Christian metaphysics is the result of the intersecting influences of hermeticism, gnosticism, and philosophy of the Neoplatonists" (Belyi 620).

With the limited exception of Samuel D. Cioran (17-20) and Paul M. Allen, explicators of Soloviev have avoided detailed discussion of gnostic elements in his philosophical writings. Many commentators perceived certain gnostic aspects in his world view, but speedily labeled them "Neoplatonic" (possibly to avoid rough theological terrain or unwelcome ecclesiastical attention). In some cases they erroneously mistook Soloviev's elaborations of Christian gnostic terminology and conceptualization for an esoteric Christian paradigm. This would partially explain why Soloviev has not more often been discussed by secondary literature within a gnostic context, although his contemporaries certainly recognized that dimension of his work.

A second and more compelling reason for the avoidance of the discussion of Soloviev's gnostic dimension would be that the Church itself discouraged the explicit exploration of anyone's gnostic tendencies, let alone Soloviev's, who was revered by many members of the God-seeking intelligentsia as the greatest of all Russian Orthodox metaphysicians. Gnosticism had been declared a heresy almost from the first days of Christianity, and the first six centuries of the Christian era witnessed attacks on the doctrine by dedicated heresiologists and respected Fathers of the Church. In turn-of-the-century Russia, the Orthodox Church continued to persecute heretical sects, especially the khlysty, whose doctrine had a considerable gnostic dimension. Thus the less-marked term "theosophy" (lower-case t) or "Christian theosophy" was not infrequently used as a euphemism for gnostic tendencies; the term was certainly applied to Soloviev more than once.

Various historical, intellectual, and spiritual parallels between the time of the gnostics (most broadly the first century B.C. through the first six centuries A.D.) and the fin-de- siecle were not lost on contemporaries. They viewed both periods as times of "crisis of culture and consciousness," times that saw a confrontation between Eastern and Western cultures, times when new faiths were evolving out of old and discredited mystery religions. Gnosticism was a historically earlier expression of a similar human sense of existentialism, spiritual emptiness, and alienation from a decadent world that we associate with the end of the nineteenth century. That Soloviev and his generation (rejecting the prevailing scientific positivism and decadence of the period, coping with the weakening of traditional religion, and seeking a new religious worldview) should be interested in and conversant with gnosticism is not at all surprising. During their lifetime Soloviev's contemporaries not only saw the publication of many studies of gnosticism and the enthusiastic activity of archaeologists and historians of comparative religions, but also witnessed the creation of entire systems of modern gnosis, both pagan and Christian. Here one might mention that the neo-Buddhist Theosophy of Mme. Blavatsky, mentioned above, and the "Christian Theosophy" (upper-case T) of Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), are both modern gnostic doctrines; Dr. Steiner would later speak in his lectures of Soloviev as a mediator between East and West and a true clairvoyant who anticipated Steiner's own vision of the coming of the Christ in the etheric world, while Western Anthroposophists would write books about Soloviev (Allen 341-43). [3]

How should we understand gnosticism, then, for the purpose of this discussion? Gnosticism is a religious-philosophical system that holds that the concept of knowledge is superior to the concept of faith (the foundation of traditional religion). Gnosticism is thus a religious philosophy, but not a religion; as such, it would have a certain appeal to thinkers of mystic inclinations who were raised in a historically positivistic age, as was Soloviev. The knowledge that gnosticism claims to have or to seek, moreover, is a total and systematic knowledge, including within itself all the natural and speculative sciences, cosmology, history, anthropology, mythology, philosophy, and theology/theogony. Gnosticism is both highly syncretic and synthetic, for all its unfamiliar and esoteric detail. But the Gnosis, being "knowledge of God," is not to be identified with mere rational cognition, since God is Unknowable and Ineffable; rather, gnostics claim, their system is a higher, more intuitive form of spiritual cognition, a vision of truth, or revelation, revealed to the elite few who are spiritually sophisticated enough to receive it.

The basic premise of gnostic thought is that the Godhead is utterly transcendent and alien to the material world in which mankind dwells. The undefined and undefinable Godhead dwells beyond all time, space, and understanding, in an Abyss of Profundity, whose "light is darkness to mortal eyes, because of the superabundance of its brilliancy" (Mead 311; this is also the photismos of the monks of Mount Athos, the "Light of Tabor" of the Hesychasts, the mystic or divine Light, the Invisible Fire, etc.). Yet for all its "beyondness" and incomprehensibility, the Godhead is the ultimate source of All, including the pneumatic, spiritual self in man. The gnosis teaches that the origin of the human pneumatic self is divine and that the material world that holds the pneumatic self prisoner is demonic. It is important to note that in gnostic systems, evil, matter, and the demonic are defined relatively, by their distance from the Goodness and Spirituality of the Godhead. Evil and matter are less perfect, hence more demonic, only because they are further in distance from the complete perfection of the Godhead. The point of existence is to release, through special knowledge (i.e., gnosis), the pneumatic self from the fetters of matter and to return it to its natural home in the realm of the light of pure Spirit. Thus all gnostic thought is dualistic; it is premised on the perceived but illusionary oppositions of Light and Darkness, Divine and Demonic, Spiritual and Material, noumenal and phenomenal. Gnosticism begins here, but it does not end here.

In all cases, gnostic doctrines are emanationist, eschatological, and soteriological. The redemption of spirit from matter, of light from darkness, and the restoration of a precosmic status quo are, in fact, the central principle of the gnosis. The world exists because divine substance, spirit, removed itself sufficiently from the Godhead to fall into matter. The story of the redemption of this divine substance is human history. The difference among gnostic systems lies precisely in their speculations about the nature of the precosmic fall of Spirit (divine element) into Matter and the precise agent and manner of redemption, but not in the fact of the fall itself.

The best known of the gnostic cosmogonies that describe the precosmic fall of Spirit into Matter is that of Valentinus, in which the key protagonists in the precosmic fall and the subsequent redemption are the Sophia, the Christos, and Jesus. Valentinus (2d cent., ca. A.D. 140), the most influential of the gnostic theologians, based his system on Ophitic texts (with some Platonic and Pythagorean matter). That Soloviev was well acquainted with the Valentinian speculation is clear not only from his article "Gnosticism" for the Brokgauz-Efron Encyclopedia (Entsiklopedicheskii slovar' Brokgauza-Efrona; "Gnostitsizm," in Solov'ev 10:323-28), but also from a second article in the same work, "Valentinus and the Valentinians" ("Valentin i Valentiniane," in Solov'ev 10:285-90). Valentinus was, according to Soloviev, "the most famous of the gnostic philosophers and one of the most brilliant thinkers of all time," the creator of a "rigorous, consistent, and poetically original system" ("Valentin," 10:285, 288). Defining gnosticism as a philosophy, Soloviev termed it a "theosophical" system whose purpose was to unite "the divine principle and the world, absolute and relative being, the infinite and the finite" ("Gnostitsizm," 324). The articles reveal Soloviev's detailed knowledge of gnosticism; they should, however, be approached cautiously by the reader. During the late nineteenth century, while the Brokgauz-Efron Encyclopedia was being published, Soloviev's articles would have been strictly overseen by the Church censorship (dukhovnaia tsenzura; Church censorship was lifted only in 1905). Since gnosticism was a heresy, Soloviev's encyclopedia entries would have had to reflect the Church's position; indeed Soloviev's article "Gnosticism" conforms strictly to Irenaeus' Adversus omnes haereses in the approved manner.

The Valentinian speculation represents the mainstream of gnostic thought; it received the greatest attention from the patristic heresiologists and was the best-known and most accessible tradition before the later discoveries of Nag Hammadi (1945). One of the more important implications of the Valentinian speculation for mystic thought is its assumption that matter is derived from an original spiritual source. Since matter is viewed negatively, this implies a divine "failure" on some level; it also implies that this failure, being divine in origin, can and will be redeemed. Materiality, for the Valentinians, was a devalued and derivative spirituality, less perfect and more "evil" for being the more distant from the source of all perfection; matter remained, however, an esentially spiritual (if devalued) condition. Immensely complex, the Valentinian cosmogony supporting this idea is given in simplified form below.

At the beginning of Valentinus' gnostic universe stands the All-Unity (Gk. hen kai pan; Soloviev's Vseedinstvo). It has also been called the Pure Light, the Unknowable, the Ineffable, the Unutterable, Bythos (Abyss of Profundity), the Divine Principle, the Absolute One, and many other names. This Principle, in order to make Itself known, autonomously emanates, producing a series of pairs, or syzygies, in a descending order of dignity; these are the Aeons, also called Eternities, of the Pleroma. The first emanation, or Aeon, is the feminine Silence (sometimes called Ennoia [Thought], or Grace). The syzygy of the Abyss and the Silence engenders the masculine Nous (Mind, Intelligence) and the feminine Aletheia (Truth); they in turn emanate the Logos (Word) and Zoi (Life), and they, in turn, produce Anthropos (Man) and Ecclesia (Church). This Ogdoad (the sum of the first eight emanations) engenders twenty-two further syzygies (the Decad and the Dodecad), the last being the feminine Aeon/Eternity Sophia (Wisdom; hence Soloviev's reference to Sophia as the "bright body of Eternity" in the Sophia Prayer).

The totality of thirty Aeons constitute the Fullness of Absolute Being: the nonmaterial, nonspatial, and nontemporal Perfection of the Pleroma. The fullness of the Pleroma is consolidated and encompassed by the Power of Limit (horos; sometimes called the Cross and associated with the Christos). Beyond the Pleroma is the Shadow (Darkness) and the Void; it will eventually become Cosmos, the realm of matter, space, and time.

Of all the Aeons, only Nous has been granted the possibility of understanding the One, but all of the other Aeons wonder about the One and wish to know It. Most curious of all was Sophia, who was farthest from the Ineffable One and who existed at the very edge of the Fullness and Perfection of the Pleroma. In her desire and passion to comprehend the One that cannot be comprehended, she gives way to her desire to imitate the One and emanates without syzygy (i.e., without a consort, as the One did). She produces only "formlessness" (the Abortion) and thereby "falls" (sins) into the Cosmic Darkness. [4]

Concerned about the repercussions of Sophia's fall into the darkness beyond the Pleroma, the Power of Limit returns the Fallen Sophia to the Fullness of the Pleroma, but pushes the "formlessness" she has produced out of the Pleroma. The One now emanates two additional Aeons, the Christos and the Holy Spirit (the Comforter). The Christos ensures that the Pleroma will remain untroubled by explaining the One to the Aeons (this explanation is the Gnosis). Christos also temporarily leaves the Pleroma to "enform" the formlessness as a lower Sophia, and then returns into his perfect pleromic state. All of the Aeons together then produce the unpaired Aeon Jesus, the "Common Fruit" of the Pleroma (the "fruit of the cross"), who will have an important role to play in the redemption of the enformed offspring of Sophia. Thus occurs the precosmic "Fall" of the Aeon Sophia that initiates human history.

The lower Sophia is granted awareness of her divine origin by Christos. She longs to return to the light of the Pleroma, but she is unable to penetrate the Limit. Alone in the Darkness of the Void, she suffers, and her sufferings become states of being, becoming eventually psychic and material substance, the prima materia of the world in which man lives. Thus in some variants the material world was created from the Grief, Fear, Bewilderment, and Ignorance experienced by the lower Sophia in the Void, while her "Turning Back Toward the Life-Giver" produced the psychic world, standing between matter and spirit (Jonas 187-88). [5] In other variants Laughter, the "luminous substance," is added to the passions that create the material world. [6] Certainly a lower Sophia with a sense of humor would have appealed to Soloviev, who was well-known for his satiric and humorous poems and plays on lofty subjects.

Eccentric as this cosmogony may seem to the modern reader, Soloviev presented a nearly identical cosmogony in an interesting manuscript, written in French in early 1876, while he was in Cairo and Sorrento. The manuscript, which Soloviev originally described as "a work of mystical, theosophical-philosophical-theurgical-political content" and finally titled "Sophie," was not published in his lifetime; provocatively, Soloviev's original title for it was "Principes de la religion universelle," implying that in mystical gnosticism he perceived some fundamental religious doctrine that underlies all others (Sergei Solov'ev 119, 129ff.; Pis'ma 2:23, 27). Although Soloviev himself chose not to publish this interesting conglomeration of dialogue between the Philosopher and Sophia and philosophical essays (with marginal automatic and mediumistic writings), he subsequently refined many of its ideas and presented them in his major work, La Russie et l'Eglise Universelle (1889 in French; 1911, trans. to Russian by G. A. Rachinskii; see Rossiia i Vselenskaia Tserkov' 11: 143-348). "Sophie" and "La Sophia; principes de la doctrine universelle" were finally published in 1978 in the French original. These seemingly unusual works were not really unusual for Soloviev, who continued throughout his life to combine philosophical speculation (derivative and original) with satire, parody, poetry, and literary prose (see Kornblatt, this volume).

In "Sophie" Soloviev described the creation of the world in a clearly gnostic manner, consistently equating Sophia with the rebellious Aeon and then with the World Soul (Sophia's primary role in the world of Darkness):

By itself, the Soul is feminine, and its bliss and power lie in its submission to the active male force of the Divine Nous. Liberating in herself blind desire, affirming herself in her autonomous selfness [samost'], the Soul leaves her state of passivity and potentiality and enters an active state, she herself becomes Spirit, but the Spirit of Evil -- she is no longer Soul, but spiritus, the spirit of darkness and evil. "The Soul is Satan, here is wisdom." In her fall, the Soul gives birth to Satan, the blind cosmic spirit, and to the Demiourgos, an intelligent force, but negative and external, the source of purely external forms, order, and relation. And the cosmic process begins, bellum ommium contra omnia. (Sergei Solov'ev 138; see below for clarification of use of the word "Soul")

In Soloviev, as in the Valentinian gnosis, the ensuing struggle between the Demiourgos and Satan then creates time and space, while the fragmenting Soul becomes the world's material substratum. The remainder of Soloviev's manuscript goes on to describe the Valentinian paradigm of telluric creation in considerable detail. Soloviev later cleared out many of the more sensational aspects of this Valentinian paradigm, but left the discussion of the World Soul and the Sophia, the particular redemptive role of Divine Logos, and other aspects of his theory intact in both the Lectures on Godmanhood (Chteniia o bogochelovechestve) and La Russie et l'Eglise Universelle.

The unpublished "Sophie" is a very rough draft and thus, while jejune in many ways, is more than a little revealing of Soloviev's early direction. That he considered his early attempt an important text is clear from his original (and most unsuitable, given contemporary circumstances) intention to defend it as a doctoral dissertation (Sergei Solov'ev 149); it would never have been accepted.

Despite her "sin," the gnostic Sophia remains a perfect emanation of the All-Unity and a bearer of Divine Light. Because of this particularly interesting complication (she is both sinner and sinless), Valentinian cosmology "found it necessary, in view of the wide span of the conditions represented by the female aspect of God (Sophia), to differentiate this aspect into an upper and a lower Sophia" (Jonas 177). Thus Valentinian Gnosticism postulates an Agia Sophia, the Holy Wisdom of God that remains in the glory and perfection of the Pleroma, and her antitype, the Sophia Prouneikos, Wisdom the Whore, the "formless" entity who, in being pushed out of the Light of the Pleroma and into the Darkness of the Void beyond, thrusts a spark of Divine Light into the Darkness. [7]

[T]ake hold of the divine whore who still cannot recover from her fall from grace and craves filth and power in raving blindness. Lock her up like a lecherous bitch who would like to mingle her blood with every dirty cur. Capture her, may enough at last be enough. Let her for once taste your torment so that she will get to feel man and his hammer, which he has wrested from the Gods.

-- The Red Book, by C.G. Jung

The fall into Darkness, Matter, and Evil of the lower Sophia, the Sophia Prouneikos, or Achamoth, was the very event that necessitated the creation of the world and of man for one very important purpose: to facilitate the eventual redemption of the fallen Light from the Darkness (the restoration of the complete Sophia to the Pleroma). Darkness and matter are defined as evil not absolutely, but relatively (for the physical world is the world of relativity): their distance from the perfection of the Pleroma means that they are less perfect, hence relatively more evil. Because of this state of events, the world and the universe exist, but within them also exist the means of returning the divine spark to the Godhead.

Once fallen into the realm of Matter and Darkness, the lower Sophia became nostalgic for her divine form and existence. In order to facilitate her return to the Light, she gave birth to the Demiourgos, who then created the earth and a human race to inhabit it. [8] Sophia splintered her divine Light and placed one spark of it into the soul of each human being, thereby herself becoming the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World. In the world, then, the lower Sophia lost the original state of All-Unity and dwelt in a state of multiplicity and fragmentation (the basic feature of matter in mystical systems). She lost all but intuitive memory of her divine nature, although from time to time a reflection of her divine nature would penetrate the world to remind both the World Soul and the human souls of their great mission. The World Soul, the lower Sophia, or Sophia Prouneikos, became utterly sensual and was eventually assimilated to the various forms of the Great Goddess and the Tellus Mater of oriental and ancient religions (Jonas 176). This Sophia was "enclosed in human flesh and migrated for centuries as from vessel to vessel into different female bodies. And since all the Powers contended for her possession, strife and warfare raged among the nations wherever she appeared" (Jonas 107, quoting Irenaeus).

In this interesting mythology we see the source of the Russian symbolists' belief that Sophia could and would actually be incarnated in a particular woman, as Belyi, Blok, and Sergei Soloviev believed she might be incarnated in Liubov' Dmitrievna Blok or as the admittedly eccentric Anna Nikolaevna Schmidt believed she might be incarnated in herself (see Shmidt). Such a view also explains why it was not contradictory for Aleksandr Blok to search for her in cabarets and whorehouses and among sectarians as well as in drawing rooms and churches. Sophia is the Eternal Feminine, found in its divine aspect in Agia Sophia, and in its demonic, dark aspect in the World Soul, the seductive whore marked by the spark of divinity, Sophia Prouneikos. Soloviev's terminology reflects the gnostic paradigm, for he clearly made this same distinction between two Sophias, naming the two aspects Sophia (Wisdom of God) and World Soul: "As the world, which this soul attempts to create, is fragmented, divided, and held together only by purely external means; as this world is the antithesis and the opposite of divine universality; so the soul of the world itself is the antithesis or the antitype of the essential Wisdom of God. This soul of the world is a creature [tvar'] and the first of all creatures, the materia prima and the true substratum of our created world," he wrote as late as 1889 (Solov'ev, Rossiia i Vselenskaia Tserkov' 11:295). This is pure gnosticism.

According to the gnostics, it was the goal of world history to redeem Sophia. She had opened a gateway between the Pleroma, the World of Light, Spirit, and Goodness, and the World of Darkness, Matter, and Evil. She had crossed the boundary and left the periphery of the perfect Pleroma open to infiltration by the Powers of Darkness. The lower Sophia, the World Soul, and through her, the Spiritual Light imprisoned in Darkness and Matter, would be redeemed by the descent into Matter of the Christos (a form related to the Aeon Logos; Soloviev's Divine Logos). There the Christos would unite with the soul of the man Jesus; in "human garments" (material form) he would undergo a passion and be crucified (symbolizing the rejection of Matter for Spirit). In the gnostic paradigm, the Aeon Logos- Christos united with the mortal Jesus at the latter's baptism; in this way Jesus became the Christ. Soloviev pointed out in a notebook entry from 1875 that "The restoration of Christ, as an individual man = the union of the Divine Logos with the individual soul of Jesus" (Sergei Solov'ev 120). The voluntary descent of the Christos and his seeming self-sacrifice bring the liberating gnosis to mankind, making redemption possible. This gnosis is Wisdom; men who "know" (gnostiki) search after it.

Through his voluntary descent, the Christos effects the redemption of the Sophia; he becomes her consort (syzygos) on the marriage bed of the Cross (Limit, Boundary). Ultimately, the Christos reascends into the Fullness of the Pleroma, leading the lower Sophia with him as his Bride. This event is to occur at the end of History, and signals the completion of the redemption of Divine Light from Demonic Darkness, the final redemption of Spirit from Matter. This act would unite the divine and the human and would lead to a new heaven and new earth inhabited by a divine humanity (Soloviev's bogochelovechestvo, toward which it is the purpose of mankind to strive). Since man was created originally as a repository for the spiritual fragments of the World Soul, the marriage of the lower Sophia with the Christos signifies the reestablishment of the original, precosmic status quo and symbolizes the syzygy of human spirit and divinity (as the divine spark, placed in man by the fallen World Soul, is reunited with its original source in the Godhead). Thus is the Sophia the "bridge" by which man comes (returns) to God.

-- Sophia Prouneikos, by Tara Carreon

The Gnostic Logos-Christos suffers not for the original sin of mankind (for there is none), [9] but for the precosmic guilt of the Sophia, whose original fall required the making of the world and of man so that the Christos would have a platform to which he could descend and a stage on which he could act out the drama of mankind's/Sophia's redemption. His coming brings a gnosis by means of which man (if sufficiently "awakened") can identify the spark of Divine Light that resides in him, purify himself of earthly, material dross, and restore the Light within to the All-Unity by completely identifying with the spiritual act of the Christos (i.e., descent into matter, passion, crucifixion, syzygy with the Sophia, and return to the Godhead). The coming of the Christos was thus the central event of human history; the restoration of the divine spark in man to its original source in the All-Unity became the very basis of the imitatio Christi and the only purpose of human existence.

The successful completion of this process of redemption is by no means predetermined or automatic (although some gnostic speculations assume it must and will happen). The descent of the Christos into the realm of matter, understood as an individual, inner spiritual event taking place in each human heart, means that the Christos is now subject to the illusions and temptations of material existence. [10] The Christ Feeling may not be strong enough to enable the individual to overcome the bondage of matter and awaken to his true spiritual nature; he may perish, trapped in the web of the World Illusion. [11] This is the risk that every mystic faces: the courage to descend into the abyss does not guarantee the strength to escape from it; the possibility of annihilation or eternal entrapment in matter is ever-present. Soloviev, toward the end of his life, felt this danger and at times despaired of man's ever having the strength to achieve a state of Divine Humanity (bogochelovechestvo).

In this way Soloviev's personal cosmogony derived to a great extent from this traditional gnostic paradigm. He continued to view the cosmic process, the creation of the world, and the redemption of the world in terms of the precosmic fall of Sophia (in her gnostic variant as the dark and demonic anima mundi, Achamoth), her separation from her heavenly bridegroom (Nous), her role as the Soul of the World in the creation of the material world, her nostalgia for her heavenly state, her creation of the Church on earth, her eventual redemption by the Bridegroom (Logos-Christos). In Soloviev's later works, the more sensational and clearly "mythological" gnostic elements disappear, some replaced by more traditional Christian vocabulary (although not always by traditional Christian meanings), some by patristic theological vocabulary, as Richard Gustafson's chapter in this volume makes clear. But certain essential aspects of the gnostic cosmogony remain.

An examination of gnostic cosmogony elucidates why Soloviev was able to call his Sophia by many names: Agia Sophia; the World Soul (Anima Mundi); the Bride of the Lamb, Christos; the New Jerusalem; the Universal Church; the Wisdom of God, an Eternity (as aeonic emanation); and the Creative Principle, the prima materia of creation (for the world is created from the body of Sophia for one reason only: to facilitate the redemption of divine light trapped in matter through her fall), etc. Soloviev's Sophia is not (as some critics, like Vasily Zenkovsky [47-48], have claimed) fragmentary, inconsistent, and ambiguous. She is entirely consistent within the framework of a particular and very ancient gnostic pattern with which Soloviev was clearly familiar.

The profoundly moving and poetic Sophia Prayer, cited at the start of this essay, more than any dry didactic discourse, reveals the depth of Soloviev's debt to gnostic ideas. The poem begins with an invocation of the "Unutterable," Ineffable One. It refers to "the priceless pearl of Ophir" (the Pearl of Great Price, a well-known gnostic metaphor for the soul [Jonas 125-29]). It names the Rose, symbol of the perfection of the Pleroma; the "Rose of Sharon" is Ecclesia, the Church, while the Lily of the Valley represents the Advent of Christ (Cooper 98,141-42). The Divine Sophia is "the bright body of Eternity" (Eternity being another name for Aeon; see above); she is the "Soul of worlds and the one Queen of all souls" as the anima mundi and the prima materia. She requests that her beloved, Jesus Christ (Christos-Logos), descend into the "prison of the soul" (the gnostics called the human body the "tomb" or the "prison house of the soul") and "fill our darkness with thy radiance" (descend into material reality with divine light), and "melt away the fetters that bind our spirit" (bring the gnosis that liberates the spirit from matter), "incarnate thyself in us and in the world, restoring the fullness of the Ages" (the perfection of the Aeons, the Pleroma), "so that the deep [the Void, the Cosmos] may be confined and that God may be all in all." When the reader learns the vocabulary, the gnostic power of the Sophia Prayer becomes clear.

Gnosticism, although heretical in the view of traditional Christianity, has exercised a tremendously seductive power over many thinkers within the Orthodox tradition; moreover, the gnostic heresy seems to be a "natural" heresy for Orthodox Christianity. The mystical theology of the Eastern Church was flexible enough to accommodate what would become the sophiology of Sergei Bulgakov and other post-Solovievian thinkers. But from the point of view of the traditional Orthodox church, Father Georges Florovsky was correct to point at Soloviev as a "pernicious influence" in his Ways of Russian Theology (Puti russkogo bogosloviia 469).

Certain aspects of gnosticism certainly affected Soloviev and his literary heirs. Gnosticism is also present in the various occult doctrines, notably Theosophy and Anthroposophy, which attracted converts from among the Russian intelligentsia during the early twentieth century (most of whom were, not surprisingly, fervent Solovievians; see Carlson). The vocabulary and symbology of gnosticism continued to be profoundly appealing to poets of all times and places, including the Russian symbolists. While most readers are acquainted with the Sophia paradigm as expressed by the "Beautiful Lady" (Prekrasnaia Dama) and "The Stranger" (Neznakomka) poems of Aleksandr Blok (1880-1921), the young, impressionable, and mystically inclined Andrei Belyl (Boris Bugaev, 1880-1934) took more from Soloviev's total system. This is especially clear in his First Symphony, whose heroine is a Sophia figure who gives the gnostic "Call of Eternity"; his short story "Adam" actually narrates the story of the precosmic fall into matter as an anecdote; and in the novel Silver Dove, the Logos-hero, Petr Darialsky, finds himself literally trapped in matter as in a spiderweb (the veil of Maya), then hears "The Call," and returns to his true home in eternity by dying to material existence.

Although the younger symbolists emphasized Soloviev's concept of Sophia as primary, others recognized in Soloviev's system of metaphysics the primacy of the Christ idea and the secondary role of the Sophia as the Herald of His Coming or the Bridge between man and God. For Soloviev, as for the Christian Gnostics, Christ was not a founder, not a teacher; Christ was the very content of Christianity. The life of the true Christian, if he desires to participate in that content, must be lived in imitatio Christi. Soloviev's Sophia, a figure whom many modern commentators erroneously endow with a primacy it does not possess in his system, is only a link, a mediating principle between the human and divine; Sophia is but the means of uniting man with Christ.

More recently, gnosticism has attracted the attention of analytical psychologists. Elaine Pagels has pointed out in her book The Gnostic Gospels that "the gnostic movement shared certain affinities with contemporary methods of exploring the self through psychotherapeutic techniques. Both gnosticism and psychotherapy value, above all, knowledge -- the self-knowledge which is insight" (124). Other scholars of gnosticism, notably Hans Jonas, have also noticed the "parallel vocabularies" of gnosticism and depth psychology, as both seek words to describe the indescribable and to express complex psychic contents. C. G. Jung wrote extensively about gnosticism and "deciphered" its symbology, translating it into the vocabulary of depth psychology, in numerous essays (see, for example, the anthology The Gnostic Jung; also Jung's Psychology and Alchemy and Aion). Gnostic thought repeatedly returns to enthrall human consciousness, as it does today in the manifold syncretic systems of New Age mysticism.

This essay has left many subjects (about which gnosticism had something to say) unexplored. These include Soloviev's understanding of the nature of divine and human love, syzygy, and abstract eroticism; morality and ethics; the nature of evil; the role of asceticism. The essay has focused instead on the contributing role played by gnostic cosmogony and the gnostic Sophia concept in the evolution of Soloviev's understanding of man's divine and human essences, of the nature of sin and redemption, and of the Sophia's particular role as bridge between the Godhead and humanity. [12] Soloviev's fundamental notion of divine humanity (bogochelovechestvo) may, ultimately, be understood only when its gnostic as well as its traditional Christian context is fully explored.

Soloviev was an essentially eclectic (even syncretic) thinker, and he found in the gnostic Sophia and her poetic genesis a rich vocabulary and imagery for spiritual events and experiences. This gnostic vocabulary and imagery he combined creatively with those of other religious, mystical and philosophical systems that attracted him and his contemporaries of the fin-de-siecle (including Kabbalah, the thought of Boehme and Swedenborg, mystical Orthodox theology, and even, occasionally, occultism, among others); the result was a system unique to Vladimir Soloviev. Thus Soloviev's syncretic sophiology may fruitfully be viewed in the context of a search for a modern gnosis, a search for new forms of meaningful spiritual knowledge, which, arguably, the Russian religious renaissance was.



1. Translation mine; the Russian original is given in Sergei Solov'ev 118-19. Sergei Soloviev included this material in the sixth and seventh editions of his uncle's Stikhotvoreniia; it can be found in Vladimir Solov'ev 12:148-49.

2. Concepts and vocabulary are particularly troubling. In Adversus haereses, Irenaeus writes, "Certainly they [the Valentinians] confess with their tongues the one Jesus Christ, but in their minds (sententia) they divide him" (cited in Rudolph 154-55). Kurt Rudolph points out that, indeed, for the gnostics Christ is Jesus Christ, the earthly manifestation of the Christos; Christ is a higher being, an Aeon, who dwells in the Fullness of the Pleroma; and finally, Christ is the "Perfect Fruit" of the Pleroma, who becomes the consort of the fallen Sophia. This scarcely conforms to the traditional Christian concept of the Christ.

3. Rudolf Steiner even wrote the introduction to the first German edition of Soloviev, emphasizing Soloviev's role as mediator between Eastern and Western spirituality. See Solov'ev, Ausgewahlte Werke.

4. That the one fallen Aeon, or Eternity, is feminine is interesting. Perhaps it reflects Aristotelian belief in a hierarchy of physical perfection in which the male human being was the acme. The female, as a step away from male perfection, was a step toward imperfection and deformity. Such a view seems to be present in the gnostic paradigm of the emanating Aeons, with the last, "sinning" Aeon being the feminine Sophia. The names of the Aeons, or Eternities (Christos, Holy Spirit, Divine Logos, Nous, Sophia, Achamoth, etc.), differ slightly in the various renderings, but their functions remain essentially the same.

5. The Valentinian speculation preserves the antique Greek view of the double soul, sometimes called the psyche and the pneuma. The former is a body soul, which endows life and consciousness, then perishes with the body; the latter is the imperishable spiritual soul.

6. The concepts of parody, grotesque, and the satiric are central to Soloviev's own work, as well as to the writings of the second-generation symbolists. Gnostic laughter (the laughter of the gnostic Christos at the moment of crucifixion, laughter as creative substance) is certainly an important element in the works not only of Soloviev, but also of Andrei Belyi, Sergei Soloviev, and Aleksandr Blok.

7. In some gnostic variants, Agia Sophia and Sophia Prouneikos are replaced by Sophia and her female offspring, Achamoth. Sophia then remains in the perfection of the Pleroma, but Achamoth must live with her mother's sin in the Darkness.

8. The gnostics thus viewed the God of the Old Testament as the evil Demiourgos, the Creator who would keep the World Soul and mankind enslaved eternally in matter. They viewed the "fall" of Adam and Eve as a happy event, brought about by the wise serpent. Only by tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil could Adam and Eve understand their divine origin and begin the work that was to restore the Divine Light.

9. In a gnostic cosmogony, there is no human "fall," only the fall of the Sophia from the Pleroma into the Cosmic Void. The serpent in the Garden of Eden is the hero of the gnostic paradigm, not the villain. In the gnostic Genesis, "God" is the material Demiourgos who places the divine spark of the World Soul into Adam and Eve, and then attempts to hide from them their divine origin in the Pleroma and to trap them forever in matter. The serpent (symbol of Wisdom), by encouraging them to taste of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Spirit and Matter), ensures that the human race will eventually become aware of the trap of matter, recognize its spiritual home, accept the gnosis, and hearing The Call, return to the Godhead (see Pagels Adam 65ff.; Jonas 93-94).

10. The Valentinian speculation did not intend for its initiates to take the Sophia story literally. The story functions as an allegorical paradigm for the redemption of the human spirit, pining in ignorance until redeemed by the knowledge (gnosis) of the Christ. This macrocosmic drama has its counterpart in the microcosmic tribulation of the human heart.

11. This is one of the many points at which gnosticism, Theosophy, Buddhism (all important at the fin-de-siecle), and other occult doctrines intersect. Theosophy and Buddhism both posit Maya, the cosmic Spider who spins the web of World Illusion which must be overcome. The image appears in a number of symbolist works, notably Andrei Belyi's Serebrianyi golub', where the entrapping web literally sends its viscous strands into the hero's breast. The web of World Illusion holds its victim trapped in matter and occludes the higher, "real" reality that stands behind illusion.

12. The understanding of theosis conspicuously highlights the difference between traditional Orthodoxy and gnosticism. Stated in extreme terms, the gnostic is God, albeit a fragmented and imprisoned God; his earthly task is to discover this fact, to reject and overcome the material world that keep him prisoner in his physical body and in nature (which are evil, having been created by an evil demiourgos), and to return to the unknowable Godhead. Most gnostic doctrines have no concept of grace or resurrection, let alone resurrection in the despised flesh. The gnostic path is a return, not a trial or a quest. In Orthodoxy, on the other hand, man is made in the image of God, but he is not God. Man dwells in nature, which is good, for it was created by God; man acquires the Holy Spirit only through divine grace and "dwells in" God, as God dwells in him. Man partakes of divine nature, joins with the divine energy of God, but is not himself divine.

Works Cited

Allen, Paul M. Vladimir Soloviev: Russian Mystic. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Steinerbooks, 1978.

Belyi, Andrew [Boris Bugaev]. Simvolizm: kniga statei. Moscow: Musaget, 1910.

Carlson, Maria. "No Religion Higher Than Truth": A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia 1875-1922. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Cioran, Samuel D. Vladimir Solov'ev and the Knighthood of the Divine Sophia. Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfried Laurier University Press, 1977.

Cooper, J.C. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols. London: Thames & Hudson, 1978.

Florovsky, Georges. Puti russkogo bogosloviia. Paris: [YMCA Press], 1937.

Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity. 2d rev. ed. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. 2d ed. Vol. IX, 2 of the Collected Works. Bollingen Series 20. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959.

Jung, Carl Gustav. The Gnostic Jung. Ed. Robert A. Segal. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Jung, Carl Gustav. Psychology and Alchemy. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. Vol. XII of the Collected Works. Bollingen Series 20. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Mead, G.R.S. Fragments of a Faith Forgotten. New York: University Books, 1960. Rpt. of orig. 1921 ed.

Merezhkovskii, Dmitrii. "Nemoi prorok." Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, ed. I. I. Sytin. 24 vols. Moscow: I.D. Sytin, 1914. 15:122-35.

Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. New York: Random House, 1979.

Rudolph, Kurt. Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism. Trans. R. McL. Wilson, P.W. Coxon, and K. H. Kuhn. San Francisco: Harper and Row, [1985].

Schmidt, Anna Nikolaevna. Iz rukopisei Anny Nikolaevny Shmidt. Budushchnosti. Tretii Zavet. Iz dnevnika. Pis'ma i pr. S. pis'mami k nei Vl. Solov'eva. Ed. S. Bulgakov. [Moscow]: Put', 1916.

Solov'ev, Sergei. Zhizn' i tvorcheskaia evoliutsiia Vladimira Solov'eva. Brussels: Zhizn's Bogom, 1977.

Solov'ev, Vladimir [Solowjew, Wladimir]. Ausgewahlte Werke. 4 vols. Trans. Harry Kohler (Harriet von Vacano). Stuttgart: Der kommende Tag, 1922.

Solov'ev, Vladimir. Pis'ma. Ed. E.L. Radlov. 4 vols. St. Petersburg: "Obshchestvennaia pol'za," 1908. Reprinted with appendix, Brussels: Zhizn's Bogom, 1970.

Solov'ev, Vladimir. Sobranie sochinenii. Ed. S. M. Solov'ev and E.L. Radlov. 2d ed. 10 vols. St. Petersburg: Prosveshchenie, 1911-14. Reprinted with 2 additional volumes, Brussels: Zhizn's Bogom, 1966-1970.

Solov'ev, Vladimir. "La Sophia" et les autres ecrits francais., Ed. Francois Rouleau. Lausanne: La Cite, 1978.
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Re: Gnostic Elements in the Cosmogony of Vladimir Soloviev

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 7:34 am

Vladimir Soloviev and the Jews in Russia
by Walter G. Moss
The Russian Review 29, No. 2 (April 1970)
© 1970 The Editors and Board of Trustees of the Russian Review, by Blackwell Publishing

Before 1881 Vladimir Soloviev's interest in the Jews seems to have been limited to the Jewish mystical speculations embodied in the Kabala and to the Jewish thought revealed in the Old Testament. In 1875, having recently defended his Master's thesis, The Crisis of Western Philosophy, and being twenty-two years of age, he arrived in England. There, at the British Museum, he studied Kabalistic and other mystical writings. Several months later he decided to go to Egypt. He seems to have told at least two individuals that the reason for his trip was to seek out an Egyptian tribe which supposedly guarded Kabalistic secrets. [1] After his eventual return to Russia in 1876, Soloviev's interest in the Kabala seems to have declined somewhat; but his exposure to its theosophical and cosmogonic strands permanently influenced, at least in a minor way, his own speculations. [2] During the course of his Lectures on Godmanhood, delivered in 1878 and attended by such notables as his older friend Dostoevsky and the novelist Lev Tolstoy, Soloviev recognized the theological contributions of pre-Christian Judaism and especially praised the Old Testament prophets. [3]

In 1879 Soloviev met Rabbi F. Gets, who was to remain a lifelong friend.
Until 1881, however, there is no evidence to indicate that he took any special interest in the plight of the Jews in Russia. [4]

It is perhaps no coincidence that Soloviev began speaking out on the Jewish question after 1881, for in that year the Jews were victimized by pogroms which, perhaps for the first time, dramatically brought the issue to the young philosopher's mind. Although the violence temporarily came to an end in May 1882, the Jewish agony was to continue. From 1882 until his death in 1900 Soloviev knew that additional sporadic pogroms took place and was aware of a number of new restrictions placed upon the Jews: for example, their rights of travel and domicile were further limited, and by means of quotas their educational opportunities were also severely restricted. [5]

In the 1880s Soloviev took issue with the ideological defenses of anti-Semitism which appeared in various conservative journals and newspapers. From 1881 to 1883 the pages of Rus bristled with the Judophobic writings of its editor, Ivan Aksakov. Since most of Soloviev's articles and the excellent poetry which he wrote during this period appeared in this journal, and since Aksakov was a friend of his, Soloviev was undoubtedly familiar with his editor's articles. Aksakov's anti-Semitism, like that of many of his educated contemporaries, was part of a Weltanschauung which in general professed the superiority of Russia and Orthodoxy and which regarded foreign elements such as Judaism, Catholicism, Western culture, and liberalism as serious threats. [6]

In his articles of 1881-83 Aksakov defended those who were responsible for the pogroms and said that their feelings were natural, considering the oppression and economic exploitation exercised by the Jews against the Christians. He believed that it was the Christians, not the Jews, who suffered most whenever the two came into contact. In general he criticized the Jews for their Jewish nationalism and for their desire to subdue Christians everywhere. From the religious point of view he blamed them for crucifying Christ and for proudly refusing to follow Him; he was especially critical of the Talmudists. [7]

K. E. Istomin, a member of the Kharkov Theological Seminary administration and a frequent contributor to the journal it published, Vera i Razum (Faith and Reason), took up in 1885 where Aksakov left off. His views also were undoubtedly known to Soloviev. [8] Istomin felt that although the pogroms might have taken an unjustifiable form, they reflected a just awakening of the national consciousness and the Christian spirit against an alien faith. In his view the Christians had risen against the cosmopolitan nationalism of Jews whose loyalty belonged not to the countries of residence, but to Judaism. The Jewish nationalism was accused of being marked by egoism, materialism, and a spirit of pride, all of which helped to explain its hostility towards Christianity. Like Aksakov, Istomin placed the principal blame on the Talmud, but he also had little sympathy for men like Jacob Priluker and his "New Israel" sect, founded in 1882, which rejected the Talmud and many Jewish customs and recognized only the teachings of Moses. To Istomin's mind such progressive Judaism smacked of the rationalism and cosmopolitanism which Russian conservative nationalists so often connected with all the other evils that they feared. [9]

NEW ISRAEL (Rus. Novy Izrail), Jewish religious sect initiated in Odessa during the 1880s. At the beginning of 1882 Jacob Priluker, a teacher at the government Jewish school of Odessa, published an article in the Odesskiy Listok in which he proclaimed the 15 principles of a sect to be known as New Israel, whose objective was to introduce reforms in the Jewish religion which would reconcile it with Christianity. These principles recognized the Mosaic law only, and articulated "an attitude of contempt" toward the Talmud. The day of rest was transferred from Saturday to Sunday, while circumcision and the dietary laws were abolished. The members of the sect were required to consider Russian as their national language and to observe the laws of the state. The Russian government was requested to grant civic rights to the members of the sect, to authorize them to spread their doctrine among the Jews, and to permit them to wear a special sign which would distinguish them from other Jews. Their platform was to be a breakthrough for Russian Jewry after the tribulations it had suffered through the riots and increased antisemitism which followed the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881. However, even those maskilim who strove for reforms within Judaism regarded Priluker's proposals with reserve. They pointed to the utilitarian nature of his reforms, which suggested that part of the Jewish heritage be abandoned in exchange for civic rights. On the other hand, Priluker was encouraged by the Russian authorities. During the same year, his book Reform Jews (published under the pseudonym of E. Ben-Sion) was published in St. Petersburg with government assistance. It contained a violent attack on the Talmud and traditional Judaism, thus supplying material for antisemitic propaganda. In 1887 Priluker traveled to Western Europe at the government's expense to establish contacts with missionaries. However, his preaching to the Jewish masses of southern Russia met with no success and the Russian government's sympathy for him declined. Indeed, his appeals for support in the publication of a Jewish newspaper which would propagate his ideas were rejected by the government. In 1891 Priluker apostatized to Protestantism and immigrated to England, and this marked the end [?] of the attempt to establish the New Israel sect.


N.N. (I.L. Gordon), in: Voskhod, 8 pt. 2 (1882), 1–29; S. Ginsburg, Meshumodim in Tsarishn Rusland (1946), 90–115.
[Yehuda Slutsky]

-- NEW ISRAEL, by Jewish Virtual Library

Istomin's ideas on how to cope with this alien element within Russia are quite revealing. He was in favor of denying the Jews their rights in order to protect Christian society. He counselled Christians against further pogroms, but advised them to force the Jews out by avoiding them and not trading with them. He believed that eventually the problem could only be solved by the Jews' rejection of the Talmud and their acceptance of Christianity. He summed up his position by saying that the Jewish question was not one of greater or lesser rights for the Jews, but only of how to bring them to Christianity. [10]

Perhaps not all publicists shared the feelings of Aksakov and Istomin, but hardly anyone came forth in the 1880s to defend the Jews. The deep-seated prejudice against them which had infected Russian society, and an ignorance of their way of life on the part of most writers outside of the Pale prevented even writers of normally good will from adequately answering charges like those of Aksakov and Istomin. [11]

That Soloviev emerged in the early 1880s as the leading non-Jewish spokesman for their cause is not surprising. From his father Sergei, one of Russia's most prominent historians, he had inherited a universal outlook which freed him from the exclusive Great Russian nationalism of many of his contemporaries. He abhorred divisiveness to such an extent that the desire for unity, whether it be cosmological, international, national or religious, played a central role in all his speculations. Social justice was another of his life-long concerns, a concern which had revealed itself at the early age of thirteen when Soloviev had temporarily abandoned his Orthodox faith to embrace the ideas of radicals such as Pisarev, believing that they would lead to the perfection of society. [12] Nor was he afraid to speak his mind on controversial topics. In 1881, a few weeks after the assassination of Alexander II, he had pleaded in a speech for clemency on the part of the new Tsar for the assassins, arguing that a Christ-like act of forgiveness by Alexander III would lead toward a renewed commitment to truly Christian principles throughout Russia. [13] This public utterance aroused suspicion in government circles and was to result in a number of serious inconveniences for the philosopher. [14]

His attention having once been firmly riveted on the Jewish question, Soloviev began to apply himself to learning more about Judaism. He studied Hebrew under the tutelage of his friend Rabbi Gets, and by no later than 1886-87 he seems to have acquired an excellent reading knowledge of the language. [15] He studied Talmudic writings and became especially knowledgeable about the Old Testament and pre-Christian Judaic thought. [16] After 1881 he became acquainted with many other Jews besides Rabbi Gets. He was welcomed as one of them, made an honorary member in one of their most important organizations, "The Society for the Spread of Enlightenment among Jews in Russia," and eventually became very familiar with the personal lives and suffering of Russian Jewry. [17]

Consequently, Soloviev attempted to do all he could to aid the Jews. As early as 1882 he had spoken favorably of them in public. [18] But it was in 1884 that he first published a full length article on the subject: "The Jews and the Christian Question," the most famous of his writings on the Jews. In subsequent years other articles appeared: "New Testament Israel" (1885), "The Talmud and the Newest Polemical Literature about It in Austria and Germany" (1886), "The Jews, Their Religious Doctrine and Morality" (1891), and "When did the Jewish Prophets Live?" (1896). His History and Future of Theocracy (1887) also dealt at some length with the Jewish experience in this matter. In addition, Soloviev attempted to aid the Jews in numerous other practical ways. He tried, for example, to help Gets obtain permission to publish a journal for the Jews. In 1890 he drew up a petition against anti-Semitism for publication in the press. Unfortunately, however, after he had obtained the signatures of over one hundred prominent individuals, including Tolstoy, all Russian newspapers were ordered not to print it. In the early 1890s Soloviev aided the vast Jewish emigration effort. [19]

Examining Soloviev's writings, [20] one realizes that he could not, however, be considered a blind Judophile. In the first place, he shared the belief of many anti-Semites that the mission of the Jews had been to prepare the way for Christianity and that once Christ appeared, their refusal to follow Him was a betrayal of this mission. [21] Soloviev further agreed that in contrast to their ancestors, the majority of Jews during the time of Christ had failed to subject nationalistic and materialistic concerns to religious principles. As a result, they had not been able to understand the necessity of accepting the cross of Christ; i.e., the rejection of exclusive nationalism and of a disproportionate concern with material welfare. In addition, Soloviev felt that the Jews had failed to appreciate that salvation had to come, not only from the appearance of a Messiah, but also by the personal transformation of each individual. Concerning specific charges against the Jews of his day, especially in Russia, Soloviev did not reject them all. He admitted, for example, that a number of Jews might be guilty of exploiting the peasants. [22]

What distinguished Soloviev's attitude was that he did not dwell on the negative aspects of the Jews, but tried to see the positive side also.
In general, Soloviev felt that the Jews had been much more successful than the Christians in bringing their lives into conformity with their religious tenets. [23]

Soloviev believed that because of three qualities in particular, the Jews had become God's chosen people. First, they were a deeply religious people. Secondly, they were a self-respecting people who in their adoration of God did not try to nullify their personal selves as members of other eastern religions did. Thirdly, they appreciated the material world: There was nothing gnostic about the Jews. Due to these last two attributes, the Jews did not neglect the human or the material elements; rather they tried to permeate them with the Divine principle -- thus, their theocratic ideal, and thus their ability to give birth to a Savior who affirmed the importance of the human and the material, one who wished to become all in all. If the Jews at times carried self-consciousness, in the national sense, and the appreciation of the material world to an extreme, this still did not negate the worth of these two national qualities. [24]

The Jewish qualities which led them to espouse the ideal of theocracy were the ones which Soloviev felt true Christians also possessed. In fact, in his "The Jews and the Christian Question," he expresses the idea that universal theocracy is the aim of both Christians and Jews and that it is only in a theocratic context that the "Jewish problem" could be solved. [25] The understanding of Soloviev's concept of theocracy is therefore important for an understanding of his position on the Jews at the time his major article on the subject was written.

Soloviev seemed to feel that it was God's will that man spiritualize matter, that he transform and prepare the whole world, man and nature, so that God would be willing to cooperate with man in inaugurating the millennium and the resurrection of the faithful foretold in the Apocalypse (20:4-5). The establishment of a universal, free theocracy was to be a means toward this end. The theocracy would contain three elements: 1) the priestly, 2) the kingly, and 3) the prophetic. [26] The first would be supplied by an ecumenical church reunited under the Catholic pope -- the Orthodox Russians had to be the first to reunite with their Catholic brethren. The second element would be furnished chiefly by the Russian Tsar, who would voluntarily exercise his authority in accordance with the principles of the spiritual power. The third element would be supplied by those moved by the Holy Spirit. It would be the task of the prophets to work in harmony with the other two powers and to point the way towards man's final goal. [27]

And where in this picture would the Jews fit? Once the Christians were reunited and had begun to put their Christianity into practice, Soloviev felt that the best Jews would enter the Christian theocracy. They would see that the universalism which the Christians contrasted with the religious nationalism of the Jews was not just a pious platitude. They would realize that the morality which the Christians preached could in fact be realized in the social order. [28]

Soloviev thought that upon entering the theocracy the Jews would have a most valuable contribution to make toward the economic reconstruction of society. Sounding very much like a European socialist, Soloviev severely criticized the economic systems of his day. He deplored the fact that in Western Europe and Russia man's relationship to other men and to nature was so heavily influenced by the drive for economic gain. He did not hold the Jews responsible for these economic practices, for even though they strove for money, they generally used it to do God's work on earth. Once they joined in the theocratic task, they would bring with them their ancient desire to spiritualize the material world, and they would contribute significantly to spiritualizing and humanizing man's economic relations, as well as his relationship to nature. Soloviev hoped that, along with the Polish landowning class, an unhampered Jewish business class could provide the social and economic leadership needed to prevent the further ruination of the Russian land and economy, a process due to backward agricultural methods, an urban population that exploited the countryside, and the lack of a strong and unified middle class in Russia. [29]

Peace and laisser aller are not types of politics for which I have any respect. Ruling, and helping the highest thoughts to victory — the only things that can make me interested in Germany. England's small-mindedness is the great danger now on earth. I observe more inclination towards greatness in the feelings of the Russian Nihilists than in those of the English Utilitarians. We require an intergrowth of the German and Slav races, and we require, too, the cleverest financiers, the Jews, for us to become masters of the world.

-- The Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche

The above ideas were spelled out in 1884. By 1887-88 Soloviev was emphasizing less the possible Jewish contributions to theocracy and more the idea that Russia had to treat the Jews and other religious and ethnic minorities with justice before she could get on with her theocratic task. As his hopes for the establishment of a theocracy gradually began to fade after 1888, Soloviev stressed more and more Russia's obligation toward her minorities to fulfill the minimal demand of Christianity, i.e., justice. [30]

With the exception of the above shift from treating the "Jewish problem" within a theocratic context to that of dealing with it according to the demands of justice, Soloviev's position on the Jews remained fairly consistent from the early 1880s until his death. [31] He always differed from men like Aksakov and Istomin in the means by which he wished to lead the Jews to Christianity. He was thoroughly convinced that this would occur only after Christians began acting like Christians. This was why he stated that the Jewish problem was primarily a Christian problem. [32]

Soloviev's general attitude led him to refute the accusations frequently made by men like Aksakov and Istomin. The Jews crucified Christ! Some Jews did, Soloviev answered; but some, including the Apostles, followed Christ; and the gentile Romans were not without a hand in the crucifixion. [33] The Jews are an inferior people! But God selected them over all others to be his chosen people, and Christ was a Jew, Soloviev declared. [34] The Talmud prescribes the Jews to hate Christians: it must be rejected by the Jews! Although, according to Soloviev, it permits injustice toward Christians at times, it does not prescribe it; and, on the whole, various high moral principles are enunciated in it. To ask the Jews to reject the Talmud would be like asking Christians to reject the Church Fathers. [35] The Jews are guilty of both cosmopolitanism and nationalism! They have been open to foreign influence, said Soloviev, and at the same time they have guarded the identity of their nation. If they had been too cosmopolitan, they would have lost their national identity; and if they had been too nationalistic, they would not have been open to foreign influence. [36]

Soloviev considered himself a patriot in the true sense of the word, and his concern was as much for the future of the Russian Empire as for that of the Russian Jews. He felt that an end to the restrictions on the Jews, especially those concerning residence, would help all of Russia. [37] He prophesied the dangers to Russia if she did not cast aside her prejudices and recognize the basic rights of the Jews. He concluded his 1890 petition with the following words:

The recognition and application of these elementary truths is important and necessary first of all for ourselves. The increased awakening of ethnic and religious enmity, so contrary to the spirit of Christianity, suppresses the feeling of justice and humaneness, demoralizes society at its root and can lead to moral anarchy, especially in view of the already noticeable collapse of humanitarian ideas and the weakness of the juridical principle in our lives. This is why, if acting only out of a feeling for national self-preservation, it is necessary to emphatically condemn the anti-Semite movement, not only as immoral in its essence, but as extremely dangerous for the future of Russia. [38]

On his deathbed Soloviev prayed for the Jews, [39] and upon his passing away they, in turn, conducted many services and memorials in his behalf. Jewish publications throughout the world noted his death with sorrow. Rabbi Gets concluded his article written shortly after Soloviev's death by stating: "In general one can unmistakably maintain that since the death of Lessing, there has not been a Christian literary and learned figure who could exercise such an honorable fascination and who could enjoy such wide popularity and such sincere love among the Jews as VI. S. Soloviev." [40]



* This article is based on a paper read at the Duquesne University History Forum, November 2, 1968.

1. K. Mochulsky, Vladimir Soloviev: zhizn i uchenie, Paris, YMCA Press, 1951, pp. 65-66, 60. This distinguished biographer also, however, on pp. 69-71 quotes from Soloviev's poem "Tri svidaniia" in order to show that Soloviev's real reason for going to Egypt was because he hoped to again encounter the mystical Sophia (the Eternal Feminine, the Wisdom of God). Although it would seem that Mochulsky is correct about the primary cause for the trip, it is still possible that the search for Kabalistic secrets was a secondary factor, especially since Soloviev's concept of Sophia seems to have been influenced to some extent by Kabalistic teachings. See the prayer that he wrote about this time which is found in his Stikhotvoreniia i shutochnye piesy ("Slavische Propylaen", Munich, Wilhelm Fink, 1958), pp. 300-01. There is a partial Englislh translation of it in Soloviev's Lectures on Godmanhood, intr. and transl. by Peter Zouboff, London, Dennis Dobson Ltd., 1948, p. 12.

2. Cf., Soloviev's Russia and the Universal Church, trans. Herbert Rees, London, Geofrey Bles, 1948, pp. 147-83, with his article, "Kabbala," written for the Brokgauz and Efron Encyclopedia and reprinted, along with his other articles on the Jews, in an untitled collection published in Berlin by Zaria in 1925, pp. 113-18. Zdenek V. David in his "The Formation of the Religious and Social System of Vladimir Soloviev" (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1960), pp. 198-290, attempts to show that the most important influence on Soloviev's mystical thought was Jacob Bohme. It seems, however, that Bohme was also influenced by Kabalistic thought. See Friedrich Heer, The Medieval World, trans. Janet Sondheimer, New York, Mentor Books, 1963, p. 316.

3. Lectures on Godmanhood, pp. 120, 122-27.

4. F. Gets, "Ob otnoshenii Vl. S. Solovieva k evreiskomu voprosu," Voprosy Filosofii i Psikhologii, XII, January-February, 1901, pp. 162-63. This article is also reprinted on pp. 119-49 in the collection of Soloviev's articles on the Jewish question which was published in Berlin.

5. S. M. Dubnow, History of the Jews in Russia and Poland from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Vol. II: From the Death of Alexander 1 until the Death of Alexander III (1825-1894), trans. I. Friedlaender, Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1918, pp. 247-304, 312-13, 340-41, 350, 401-05; Louis Greenberg, The Jews in Russia: The Struggle for Emancipation, 2 vols. in I, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1965, II, 19-26, 49.

6. This Weltanschauung and Soloviev's opposition to it are examined in detail in my unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, "Vladimir Soloviev and the Russophiles" (Georgetown University, 1968). On other anti-Semites of importance, especially Archimandrite Antony (Khrapovitsky), who by the time of the 1917 Revolution was one of the leading Orthodox prelates, see pp. 129-30, 182 of the dissertation.

7. I. S. Aksakov, Sochineniia, 1860-1886, Moscow, M. G. Volchaninov, 1886-1887, Vol. III: Polskii vopros i zapadno-russkoe delo; evreiskii vopros, 1860-1886, PP. 12223,121; Stephen Lukashevich, Ivan Aksakov, 1832-1886, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1965, pp. 102, 105-08, 109. Lukashevich offers an excellent summary of the anti-Semitic ideas which Aksakov held both before and after 1881.

8. Istomin, who wrote under the pseudonyms of T. Stoianov; I.; I--n; I--n, K.; and K.I., criticized Soloviev's theological and philosophical views during this same period. Since Soloviev answered this criticism which appeared in Vera i Razum, it is most probable that he also read Istomin's articles on the Jews, especially since an Istomin article of 1888 criticized Soloviev for defending the Talmud. See pp. 30-33 of my "Vllldimir Soloviev and the Russophiles."

9. T. Stoianov [K. Istomino, "Obrazovannye evrei v svoikh otnosheniiakh k khristianstvu," Vera i Razum, I, No. 1 (January, 1886) pp. 41-43, 44, 46, 60.

10. Ibid., pp. 43, 43n., 62-64; T. Stoianov [K. Istomin], "Sovremennaiia apologiia Talmuda i talmudistov," Vera i Razum, I, Pt. 2 (1888), pp. 164, 344-45.

11. The novelist M. Saltykov-Shchedrin was one exception who expressed in print his sympathies with the Jews. On this whole question, see Greenberg, II, 57-58. Soloviev in his Sobranie sochinenii Vladimira Sergeevicha Solovieva, ed. S. M. Soloviev and E. L. Radlov (2d ed.; St. Petersburg, Prosveshchenie, 1911-1913), IV, pp. 138.39, notes that Bishop Nikanor of Kherson and Odessa also printed a tolerant speech on the Jews which he had earlier delivered.

12. Pisma Vladimira Sergeevicha Solovieva, ed. E. L. Radlov, St. Petersburg, Tovarishchestvo "Obshchestvennaiia Polza," 1908-1911, I, pp. 158-59; III, p. 73. Ct., L. Lopatin, "Filosofskoe mirosozertsanie V. S. Solovieva," Voprosy Filosofii i Psikhologii, XII (January-February 1901), pp. 47-50.

13. VI. Soloviev, Pisma, ed. E. L. Radlov, St. Petersburg, "Vremia," 1923, IV, pp. 149-50.

14. Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev, Konstantin P. Pobedonostsev i ego korrespondenty: pisma i zapiski, Moscow, Gosizdat, 1923, I, pp. 278-79.

15. Pisma . . . , II, 140, 144.

16. Gets, p. 166.

17. Ibid., pp. 168, 197.

18. Pobedonostsev, op. cit., I, 278; Soloviev, Sobranie ... , IV, p.138 n. 2.

19. Pisma ... , II, pp. 148, 159-62; Dubnow, II, PP. 386·87; Gets, pp. 160-62.

20. The following analysis of Soloviev's attitude toward the Jews will be based chiefly on "The Jews and the Christian Question," which is to be found in Sobranie . . . , IV, pp. 135-85; and "The Talmud and the Newest Polemical Literature about It in Austria and Germany," Ibid., VI, pp. 3-32. Soloviev's other works on the Jews either reiterate what is said in these two articles or go into areas, such as a discussion of when the Jewish prophets lived, which have little bearing on our general topic.

21. Vladimir Soloviev, Russkaia ideia, translated from the original French into Russian by G. A. Rachinsky (2d ed.; Brussels, "Zhizn s Bogom," 1964), pp. 11-12.

22. Sobranie ... , IV, 156-58, 183.

23. Ibid., VI. 10, 17.

24. Ibid., pp. 137, 142-45, 147, 148-49.

25 Ibid., pp. 138, 156.

26 Ibid., pp. 160-61, 168; in Russia and the Universal Church, pp. 196-97, Soloviev again states that the aim of these three elements is to prepare for the Kingdom of God, to transform the world into a society "in which men find themselves in direct relationship to Christ" and in which they will no longer have any need of the agencies which heretofore had been bearers of the theocratic elements. Like the Marxian state, the organized theocratic structure would wither away once the millennium had arrived. That many scholars writing on Soloviev have not acknowledged that his theocracy was primarily an instrument for the preparation of the millennium is not surprising. Soloviev himself is partly to blame. At times he uses the terms "theocracy" and "Kingdom of God" interchangeably; at other times the latter term is used to convey the idea of the millennium or some vague post-historical existence. On the complex relationship of theocracy, the Kingdom of God, and the millennium, both before and after 1894 when Soloviev finally abandoned his theocratic hopes, see my "Vladimir Soloviev and the Russophiles," pp. 85-87, 177.

27. Sobranie ... , IV, pp. 181-83; Russia and the Universal Church, pp. 31, 35, 203-10. By what means the Tsar would assume the political leadership in a universal theocracy is not clearly spelled out by Soloviev. And once again his lack of clarity helps us to understand how scholars such as E. Trubetskoi in his Mirosozertsanie Vl. S. Solovieva, Moscow, published by the author, 1913, I, pp. 504, 506, 508, could speak of Soloviev's implied imperialism. Nevertheless, in a number of passages Soloviev indicates he would oppose a forced theocracy. See, for example, Sobranie ... ,V, pp. 389-91.

28. Eventually, Soloviev thought that St. Paul's prediction (Rom. 11 :23-27) that all Jews would be saved would be fulfilled. Although Soloviev is here talking about all Jews, he is especially concerned with the Russian Jews. The unity of Catholic Poles and Orthodox Russians and the solution of the "Polish problem" which this would bring would be especially impressive to the Russian Jews, most of whom lived in areas where the Orthodox and Catholics continually came into conflict. Sobranie ... , IV, pp. 159, 183-84.

29. Ibid., pp. 137-38, 172, 174-80, 183-85.

30. Ibid., VI, p. 416; Russkaia ideia, p. 25; Pisma ... ,II, p. 161; IV, p. 184; Truhetskoi, I, p. 530 n.1.

31. For his feelings during the last .few years of his life, see Sobranie . . . , IX, pp. 69-70; and also X, p. 219, where in his "Short Story of Antichrist," the Jews at the end of time reject the antichrist.

32. Ibid., IV, pp. 159, 183, 184; Pisma ... , II, p. 163.

33. Sobranie ... , IV, pp. 140-41.

34. Ibid., pp. 140-142, 149.

35. Ibid., VI, pp. 3, 20-21, 25.

36. Ibid., pp. 18-19.

37. To bolster his contention that the Jews' economic ability would be an asset to any town or city in which they were allowed to settle, Soloviev cited statistics showing that Christians were better off financially in the Pale of Settlement than in largely non-Jewish areas of Russia. He did this in 1891 in a preface to a work by Gets which was subsequently confiscated by the censors. See Pisma ... II, pp. 164-66.

38. Ibid., p. 161.

39. S. N. Trubetskoi, "Smert V. S. Solovieva," Vestnik Evropy, XXXV (September, 1900), p. 415.

40. Gets, op. cit., p. 198. Paul Berlin in "Russian Religious Philosophers and the Jews," Jewish Social Studies, IX (October, 1947), p. 274, writes concerning Soloviev's writings on the Jews that "in all Russian literature it is hard to find anything more noble and more worthy of a Christian than these utterances."
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