Russia’s Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and
Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830-1917

Sergei I. Zhuk 2004
Assistant Professor of History, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins University Press

Excerpt from Page 126

Along with the traditions of "God's people," the radical Molokans contributed to the new Shalaput theology and rituals as well. [i] By 1864, the Molokan dissident sect of "Pryguny" (jumpers) became the most important part of the Shalaput movement. A police officer described this sect's creed in detail.[ii]This document reveals another important influence on the Shalaputs and Pryguny: the ideas of "Sabbatarians" among the Molokan sect, who followed Hebrew traditions of the Old Testament. After 1864, new Molokan and Sabbatarian influences gradually replaced the old traditions of Skoptsy in the Shalaput movement. A return to the Hebraic origins of the Christian faith and an emphasis on the Jewish roots of Christian theology was a prominent feature of the European Reformation as well.[iii]  From medieval times on, Russian religious radicals shared the same interest in the Hebrew religious background of the first Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles. Pryguny and other Shalaput groups introduced Sabbatarian theology and practices into the Russian radical reformation and elaborated rituals based on the Old Testament, which became an important component of the popular Russian Sabbatarian movement up to the twentieth century.

[i]  The Shalaputs: the Beginning of the Radical Reformation in Imperial Russia, 1830s-1890s

Sergei I. Zhuk - Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Woodrow Wilson International Centre
Slovo  Volume 15, Part 2 Autumn 2003

The Shalaputs were the largest and most controversial religious group among the post Emancipation peasantry of the southern Russian frontier. Their name derives from a Russian and Ukrainian word that referred to those who lost their way and took a wrong track in life. Contemporaries applied this word to the very broad religious movement among peasants linked with the traditional indigenous sects of the Molokans, Khlysty, and Skoptsy in central Russia. Eventually this movement became the largest and most popular on the southern frontier. It included all those who were disappointed with the formalism of the Russian Orthodox Church. By the 1860s, Shalaput communities made up the majority in the villages of the provinces of Tavrida, Ekaterinoslav, and Stavropol'. The Shalaput movement absorbed various elements of Russian religious dissent on the southern frontier. During its evolution in the 1860s-90s it became a mass evangelical movement of pious peasants who attempted to recreate their own version of Christianity in opposition to Russian Orthodoxy.

[ii] The creed included
(1) a complete belief in various acts of the Holy Spirit;
(2) non-admittance of sinful people to the meetings;
(3) a public repentance in front of  the whole meeting or the elected person;
(4) a celebration not only of New Testament holidays, but Old Testament biblical holidays as well; following the old Jewish tradition, they kept observance of three such days
  • September 1, Day of Labor (or Pipes),
  • September 10, Day of Purification, and
  • September 15, a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles;
they celebrate both the Old Testament and New Testament holidays according to the lunar calendar rather then the general Christian one"; GARF, f. 109, 1 ekspeditsiia, op. 40, d. 2 1, part 2, 1. 68ob.
[iii]  Sergei Zhuk, "'La tradition hebraique': les Puritans, les Calvinistes hollandaise et le debut de l’ambivalence des Juifs dans l'Amerique britannique coloniale," Les Chretiens et les Juifs dans les societes de rites grec et latin, Approche comparative. Textes reunis M. Dmitriev, D. Tollet et E. Teiro (Paris: Honore Champion, 2003), 123-164.
See Also:

 W Baron, "John Calvin and the Jews," in Essential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict: From Late Antiquity to the Reformation, ed. J. Cohen (New York, 1991), 380-400;
Armas K. E. Holmio, The Lutheran Reformation and the Jews: the Birth of Protestant-Jewish Missions (Hancock, Mich., 1949);
Peter Toon, Puritans, the Millennium, and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600 to 1660 (Cambridge, 1979);
Richard H. Popkin, "Jewish Messianism and Christian Millenarianism," in Culture and Politics from Puritanism to the Enlightenment, ed. P. Zagorin, (Berkeley, Calif., 1980), 70-71;
Egal Feldman, Dual Destinies: The Jewish Encounter with Protestant America (Chicago, 1990), 5-6; and
David S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655 (Oxford, 1982).