Open Access

Conflicting Authorities. The Byzantine Symphony and the Idea of Christian Empire in Russian Orthodox Thought at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


The ideal of Byzantine symphony is still present in contemporary debate on church-state relations. A worldly notion of power interferes with a theological assessment of authority in the Church: hence the identification of the Christian empire with the kingdom of God, in a kind of a realized eschatology. This paper undertakes the deconstruction of the notion of “byzantine symphony” through its interpretations by some Russian religious thinkers at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when the whole of Russian society faced dramatic changes. The idea of Christian empire, represented by Constantine the Great, emerges as the foundation of the new orthodox Russian Empire (Tjutčev), contrasted to European civilization (Danilevskij, Leont’ev); but Constantine is also an apocalyptic figure (Bukharev), a political leader (Bolotov), a tyrant (Solov’ev) and the symbol of an entire epoch in Christian history that definitely came to an end (Bulgakov, Berdyaev).

English, German
Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception