Демченков С.А. Последний из великих пророков (библейская профетическая традиция в «Житии» протопопа Аввакума). М.: СПб.: Центр гуманитарных инициатив, 2018. 256 с. (СИРИНЪ [series minor]). ISBN 978-5-98712-848-0
МОСКОВСКИЙ ДОМ КНИГИ: http://www.mdk-arbat.ru/bookcard?book_id=4415
Аннотация: Протопоп Аввакум – одна из самых ярких и загадочных фигур в истории Древней Руси. Оценки его личности и деятельности крайне противоречивы: его называют и величайшим на Руси еретиком, и святым; и дерзким литературным новатором, и последовательным традиционалистом. Ключ к пониманию «мятежного протопопа» как человека и как писателя даёт главное его творение – автобиографическое «Житие». Изучение идейно-философской и жанровой специфики этого памятника в аспекте библейской профетической традиции позволяет сделать вывод, что перед нами не модернизированный агиографический текст, не «первая ласточка» русского реалистического романа, и даже не духовное завещание, а … книга пророка, обнаруживающая последовательную ориентацию на ветхо- и новозаветные образцы и осмысляемая Аввакумом как самоотчёт вестника Божия об исполнении порученной ему свыше миссии.
Ключевые слова: протопоп Аввакум,житие, Раскол, старообрядчество, пророчество, профетия, пророк
Sergey A. Demchenkov
The Last of the Great Prophets (biblical prophetic tradition in “Zhitiye” by Protopope Avvakum)
Archpriest Avvakum seems to be one of the most outstanding and mysterious figures in the history of Ancient Rus. Appreciation of his church-religious and literary activity is most inconsistent.
Some look at him as an ignorant obscurant, striving to seal the national spirit in the narrow terms of medieval times. Others see him just the opposite, and speak of him as an impudent debunker of canons, not only with his creations, but also with his very life asserting a fundamentally new concept of personality and who managed to foresee the primary tendencies in the development of national verbal folklore, which were distinctively designated only one and a half centuries subsequent to his death.
The historical significance of the split within the Russian Orthodox Church for the Church itself and for the Russian society as a whole was not so determined and comprehensible compared to the importance of the Reformation for the pan-European social and cultural processes. However, the split became simultaneously the endpoint separating Rus of modern era from medieval Rus, and was a battlefield of two cultural paradigms and two types of mentality, the increasing opposition of which formed a “volcanic” cultural view of the “rebellious age”.
Archpriest Avvakum was the last “titan” of the passing epoch in whose heart and destiny the old and the new both vigorously and destructively manifested themselves. He became a living incarnation of not only one of the greatest schism that the Eastern Church had to experience since its formation, and not only of the seventeenth century Russia with its diverse spiritual and artistic aspirations, but also of the eternal fatalistic law of our history dictating, that any principal «change of milestones» cannot be realized in the purely evolutionary way and proves to be associated with a calamity, the more destructive in power the great transforming energy it bore in itself.
Undoubtedly, the key to understanding Avvakum as a unique personality, a writer and a religious thinker can be found in his autobiographical magnum opus “Zhitiye” (“Vita”). This very record has become the main object of consideration in the book brought forward to your attention.
The ideological inspirer of the Old Believers not only once called himself a prophet. Nowadays such autononations are connected exclusively with the inner self-determination of the individual (let us consider, for example, the poets «prophets» of the era of symbolism), then in the cultural context of the Middle Ages they testified to a claim to a certain «sacred status» and demanded mandatory canonical confirmation.
The word «zhitiye», used by Avvakum for his principal composition, predetermined the dominant aspect of the study of the record. Meanwhile, the hagiographical tradition only indirectly (in so far as it itself absorbed biblical prophetic intentions) influenced the life history of the outstanding advocate of the split.
«Zhitiye» of Avvakum is an extraordinary life story, the creator of which seems to deliberately neglect all the basic requirements of the hagiographic genre. But this is almost a canonical prophecy – with two important limitations. Firstly, the greatest of all revelations (the New Testament) has already been revealed, and even if this type of prophecy could never take place again for obvious reasons, it was seen in the eyes of the Christian scribe as the standard. Secondly, the presentiment of the coming redemption must definitely be different from the «last days» (Avvakum, like most of the schism leaders, was convinced that the end of the world would probably take place his generation lifetime).
So, in this book we will show that Protopope Avvakum regarded his «Zhitiye» and his life as the prophecy of the «end of time». The composition of the monograph is determined by this task.
In the first chapter «Prophecy as a revelation and as a genre» the question of the essence of biblical prophetism is considered; the most important stages of its development are singled out; the genre peculiarities of Hebrew prophetics are characterized.
Already by the VIII century BC on the territory of Ancient Palestine the development of a specific literary genre is completed, the genre is intended for the written fixation of the revelation received by the seer. It is generally accepted that it originates in the sphere of oral tradition, on the borderline of folklore and literature. However, this assertion requires revision. The most characteristic feature of the folklore text, besides being oral, is the collective nature of its creation and execution. Prophecy, in spite of its distant relationship with shamanic practice, initially arises as a text created by an individual author. It is not by chance that the narrative in such texts is often conducted from the first person and the name of the herald is invariably indicated in the beginning. Unlike the monuments of oral and poetic creativity, the speeches of the prophets were not passed from mouth to mouth. The author remained their only performer Prophetic preaching as a genre is not feasible to be separated from the personality of the seer.
The conducted analysis allows us to assert that the most important genre-forming principle of prophecy is its internal antinomy, the ability to combine the subjectivism of lyrical self-expression with the epic distancing of the narrator from the subject of the narrative. On the one hand, the prophet plays the role of the author-epic, displaying in his work an objective, «external» in relation to him the reality, which was perceived by him in the process of revelation; he seeks to convince the reader of his impartiality and the accuracy of the information he provides. But at the same time prophecies are extremely emotional, and emotions, as a rule, are brought to their extreme manifestations. The seer is never limited to the role of a passive mediator: he adds his voice to the voice of God; speaks simultaneously and on behalf of the Sender and on his own behalf.
The inevitable consequence of the setting for authenticity of all prophetic books is the appearance in the text of autobiographical episodes. The determining factor here is the nature of the mission, accepted by the herald. The prophet informs the reader about his actions only in those cases when they become a part of his sermon (symbolic actions made by him, his opposition to the authorities, etc.).
Prophecy is a poly-genre structure. Besides the dominant genre components – sermons and visions – it may include fragments of biographical narrative, songs, laments, praises, teachings, prayers, messages, proverbs, etc.
Although, at first glance, prophecy is a continuous author’s monologue, in reality it is internally dialogical. And this is not only the dialogue of the Sender and the messenger. The subject structure of the prophecy presupposes the existence of three narrative instances: the author-man, the hero-messenger, the hero-man. To separate them, the prophets of the Old Testament developed a special method: the alternation of speech from the first and from the third person. In those cases when the author speaks of himself as a «perishable person», reproduces his personal impressions, he usually speaks in his own name, on his own behalf. But, describing what he accomplished at the behest of the Creator, he goes on to narration from a third person. The presence in the work of an undisclosed inner conflict becomes the first step towards the profound psychologism that is characteristic of the modern literature. Sometimes this inner dialogue, the dispute between the prophet and man, is quite evident in the text.
And, finally, the dialogism of prophecy is manifested by the fact that it is always addressed to a specific audience. The text is constructed in such a way that even during its reading an illusion of alive, direct contact of two communicants was created. Numerous addresses to the addressee serve this purpose. Often the narration is dramatized. The author seems to enter into a dispute with his invisible opponent, responds to his cues, calls him to perform certain actions. At the same time, the dialogue often turns into a polylogue. Apparently, from the end of the VI century BC the prophetic movement was gradually weakening. The prophetic genre itself began to regenerate. The book of Daniel, the first of the Hebrew apocalypticists, reflects this most dramatically. Of the two features dominating the genre of prophecy – preaching and vision – the first, of course, played a leading role. In the books of the apocalypticists vision, on the contrary, comes to the fore. The second place is occupied by the genre of a legend, since to justify the authenticity of the predictions made by an anonymous author, it is necessary to assign them to some famous prophet. The visibility of autobiography is still preserved. However, if prophecy always gives a real biography of a real person, as applied to the legendary narrative, the question of the author’s personality loses its meaning. All the excursions undertaken by the prophet into the past or into the future are inextricably linked in his mind with the current events of the present day. The author-apocalyptic is entirely future-forwarded towards the end of history.As a rule, he usually does not set any preaching tasks. The sermon is designed for a specific addressee and, therefore, is always dialogical. The prediction, planned for the eternal times, is addressed to everyone, and no one specifically at the same time, and therefore it inevitably grows into a monologue. With all the external differences, the Gospels reveal a deep connection with the Hebrew prophetic tradition. Recognizing Christ as the subject of revelation (God), the evangelist sees himself as a prophet destined to bring this revelation to the people. In other words, the Gospel is the same prophet as any creation made by the Old Testament heraldists, and it tells the readers about the personal experience of the writer, acquired in the process of communication with the Supreme. It is also autobiographical in its own way, and the degree of its autobiography can also vary considerably, because the evangelist, like the prophet, reports about the events of his life only when they discover a direct connection with the revelation obtained (that is, they help clarify any details related to the mission of the Son of Man). The distinct differences between the Gospels and the prophecies are due to the specific features of the revelation itself, i.e.by the extra-literary factors. For the evangelist, as for the apocalyptic, revelation is an external reality, at which he looks from the outside. As a result, factographicism peculiar for all prophetic texts suppresses author’s emotionality in the Gospels, prevents the disclosure of the inner world of the writer. Like other poly-genre structures, the Gospel has its dominant genre components: it is a sermon, a legend and a parable. The chronological principle of the arrangement of the material prevaling in the Gospels, their narrative are explained by the fact that the very revelation itself (the preaching of Christ) had a considerable chronological extent and unfolded itself not only in time but also in space.
The second chapter «Zhitiye of the Protopope Avvakum: On the Crossroads of Traditions» is devoted to a range of problems related to the closest genre encirclement of «Zhitiye», the peculiarities of the Bible reception in Old Russian literature and the conflict between the two antagonistic concepts of the Word as an ideological prerequisite for the emergence of the ecclesiastic schism of the late 17th century.
The range of views on the genre nature of the autobiographical biography of Avvakum is extremely wide. However, essentially, the whole heterogeneous flow of concepts is divided into two main channels. In the first case, «Zhitiye» is regarded as a genre formation, which has no analogues neither in the contemporary nor in the prior literary tradition – the prototype of the major narrative forms of the XIX – XX centuries. (V.E. Gusev, V.V. Kozhinov). In the second, the demand is claimed for a more thorough study of the Old Russian system of genres, in which the «autobiography» of Avvakum also fits with some changes in the genre configuration. Among the most probable sources of autobiographical narrative in the literature of Ancient Rus, the following genres are distinguished: the spiritual testament and the monastic statute (S. Zenkovsky, N.V. Ponyrko, E.A. Krushelnitskaya), stories about the wonders of icons and the founding of monasteries (А.М. Ranchin), confession (B. Georg, M.B. Plyukhanova, A.N. Robinson, A. Chirkin), sermon (B. Georg, D. Likhachev, A. N. Robinson), pateric stories (N. S. Demkov), as well as a number of genres of oral obscene prose (J. Bertnes, N.S. Demkov). There is also a connection between «Zhitiye» and the hagiographic canon (J. Bertnes, M. M. Loevskaya, A. N. Robinson).
In our opinion, there is every reason to speak of the irreducibility of the autobiographical lives of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to one common genre source. There were at least two multidirectional principal traditions, each of them covered a significant number of genres that come to autobiography independently of each other, due to the inner logic of their development. The fact that taken together they form a separate intensively forming «biotope» is easy to see «from the outside», but it is almost impossible to realize «from within» the epoch when each of them is seen as a natural continuation of the tradition that gave birth to it. In a number of genres (walking, vision, a story about a miracle or about a foundation of a monastery, etc.), the role of the narrator-even if he is actively involved in action-goes down to the role of an eyewitness. The subjective experience fixed in the work seems to be detached from the subject of this experience. The figure of the witness is necessary; it is not so significant who become this witness. Perceived by him is self-valuable, it can exist before and outside his perception. The reader is not interested in the experience of a particular individual, but in the object of this experience; the personality of the writer is significant only insofar as he is involved in this object.
In another group of genres (prophetic sermon, apostolic message, paternal teaching, confession, spiritual testament, etc.), the subjective experience of the author, on the contrary, acquires its significance exactly because it is the experience of a particular person or a person having a certain social or spiritual status. The object to which this experience is directed is secondary.
Of the Russian autobiographical lifestyles of the XVI – XVII centuries, to the first branch, undoubtedly, goes «The Life of Eleazar of Anzersky» (30th of the XVII century). As a matter of fact, before us is not life and certainly not an autobiography, but a cycle of visions united by a common theme and the image of the observer himself. The same can be said about the «Life of Martyr Zelenetsky» (1570–1595 yy.). The figure of the hero-narrator serves only as a kind of guarantor of the authenticity of the miracles described in the work.
Unlike the «obvious» biographies of Martirius and Eleazar, «Zhitiye» of Avvakum (as well as the «Life» of his companion Elder Epiphany) is the highest point in the development of another tradition of autobiographical narrative, asserting a self-worthy personality as opposed to a self-significant event of visions and stories about miracles.
When trying to correlate the autobiographical composition of Avvakum with the «living» genres of Old Russian literature (which continued to function actively in the 16th–17th centuries), the number of fundamental differences each time significantly exceeds the number of common features. However, this does not mean that we need to look for the genre analogues of «Zhitiya» outside Old Russian literature, but it encourages us to pay close attention to the underexplored corpus of the translated «dead» Old and New Testament genres.
On the foundation of the concept of S. Matkhauserova, B.A. Uspensky etc., in the monograph we consider in detail specific features of the medieval understanding of the symbol. For medieval consciousness significatum is a relevant, but undoubtedly, secondary component of the sign. The main task of any symbolic construction is conceived in establishing a vertical correlation (not semantic, but real) between two denotative planes of reality. Denotata-1, being the material projection of denotata-2, is connected with it by the strongest metaphysical bracing and directly represents it in reality.
A significative sign (the usual sign-symbol in C. Peirce’s classification) allows for a relatively free substitution of the signifier. The denotative sign is particularly vulnerable to any formal modifications. Since its material shell does not express any abstract meaning, but serves as an «access code» to a completely defined two-fold denotative structure, any damage to the form automatically «reassigns» the sign, changes its referential setting. In other words, instead of becoming semantically «blank»,» it simply reorientes itself to another object as a result of formal intervention. Vivid illustrations of such a «re-coding» of the sign are the history of two graphic variants of the word «angel», the dispute about two-finger / three-finger matter, etc. For the «significally» thinking new believers, the refusal to write «Jesus» («Isus», «Исус») in favor of «Jesus» («Iisus», «Иисус») is a purely spelling reform; both variants are semantically absolutely identical. For the supporters of the denotative approach, adding an extra letter to the name terminates the connection between him and his carrier and leads to a faulty substitution of the essence.
It is the disagreement in understanding the nature of the symbol that has become one of the reasons for the split. And this is perhaps the most weighty argument in favor of the fact that the explanation of the evocative unconventionality of «Zhitiye» of Avvakum should be sought in the core of the Old Russian church-book tradition.
Starting from the concept of «biblical thematic keys» by R. Piccio, we come to the conclusion that the degree of manifestation of intertextual semantic links in medieval literatures might be different. R. Piccio describes the implicit type of interaction of Slavic book monuments with biblical proto-texts. In terms of structure, text-1 (sample) and text-2 (its semantic «projection») differ substantially and cannot be reduced to any general genre scheme. The «deep» meaning does not belong to any of the two monuments as such and arises from their complex semantic interference (interrelationship), generated by mutually «resonating» formal-content components (images, motifs, quotes, rhetorical techniques, etc.).
The complete explication of semantic parallels at the structural level assumes the genre relationship of the works: the text-2 is completely or partially constructed according to the same genre scheme as text-1. The role of certain citations and allusions in this case is noticeably reduced: even if text-2 is created following the pattern of text-1 (which for medieval literatures is much more natural than following an abstract genre pattern), it appeals not so much to a specific proto-text as to a genre tradition as a whole; it is the tradition that sets the «inner» meaning of the work. Following a certain genre norm is a much stronger tool for establishing meaningful links than using thematic keys, therefore, without canceling the latter, it gives them an optional status.
We believe that the correlation between «Zhitiye» of Avvakum and the books of the Bible is described by the second scheme, i.e. they are based not on the use of certain «thematic keys» to create a «sacred» semantic layer, but on a holistic genre of «citation» covering the most diverse levels of the creative organization of the work. The legitimization of one’s own text by referring to the biblical canon reflects the «retrospective» way of thinking that is natural for the Old Russian scribe.
In the third chapter of the work «Prophecy of Protopope Avvakum», in the process of analyzing poetics and the problems of «Zhitiye», we demonstrate how Avvakum creates his «prophecy», skillfully and subtly using the biblical «prophetic markers» at different levels of the artistic organization of the work.
Undoubtedly, the «rebellious protopope» considered himself a messenger of God. Undoubtedly, he persuaded this idea upon the readers. In his struggle against the official church, only the position of the prophet, the spokesman of the indisputable, absolute truth, could provide him with the confidence of the laity. The Church, despite the measures taken to correct liturgical books and the reorganization of ritual activities, still had sufficient authority and, in the mind of the flock, continued to bear the seal of the Spirit of God. Planted by the Almighty herself, it was not subject to human judgment in the eyes of a man of the Middle Ages and could be convicted of evading the righteous path only by God speaking the mouth of his messenger. However, since the position of the church reformer obliged Avvakum to be a prophet, the prophet’s position obliged him to create a prophecy. At the same time, it would also be quite natural for him to give preference to the genre model, which most adequately corresponded to the role of the herald he took upon himself.
The principles of the selection of biographical material in «Zhitiye» are completely identical to the principles underlying the prophetic books. Avvakum repeatedly draws the attention of the reader to the fact that «Zhitiye» is not a story of the life of the protopope himself: it is a story about the divine achievements, for which he acted as an instrument. Like Old Testament propeties, «Zhitiye» is a book of «metahistorical frontier»; it puts the reader to face the choice problem – either to continue to follow the path of sin and undergo the penalty of the Lord, or «to turn away from evil deeds», and then the shaken balance can be restored. Therefore both the books of the prophets and «Zhitiye» are characterized by distinct publicistic, agitational orientation and an accusatory pathos.
We are convinced by the fact that «Zhitiye» was conceived by its author as a prophecy by the peculiarities of the subject organization of the work, based on the trinary opposition: Avvakum-as an author / Avvakum-as a herald / Avvakum-as a man, for the delineation of the elements of which he occasionally uses the alternation of speech from first and third person. Like Old Testament prophecies, «Zhitiye» is built on a dialogical principle: it is the constant dialogue of Avvakum with God, and conversations with other participants of the work, and, most importantly, the constant conversation with the reader which formal markers are revealed through numerous appeals to the «hearer».
Dialogical nature of «Zhitiye» is just one of the manifestations of the orientation of the authenticity, which is an indispensable attribute of the prophetic books. Another of its natural consequences is Avvakum’s colloquial language. Preferring everyday, colloquial vocabulary, simplified syntactic constructions with a lot of introductory words, the protopop receded from the canons of the prophetic genre (in the form in which it was known for Old Russian literature): in stylistic terms, his «autobiography» has almost nothing to do with books of biblical heralds. And at the same time, paradoxically it may look,Avvakum was strongly urged to the violation of the requirements of the prophetic canon by the prophetic canon itself. Remaining a «dead» genre, the prophecy performed completely different functions than those that were inherent in it during its active existence in Hebrew literature. And if someone needed to «resurrect» this genre model, using it for its intended purpose (i.e. for publicistic and agitational purposes), the abundant supply of the text with heavy Church Slavonic constructions would be contrary to the author’s intention. To speak in Church Slavonic meant to speak the language of eternity, from the position of the world of the incorrupt and imperishable. Prophecy as a «living» genre, on the contrary, was aimed at the current moment of history and was addressed to specific people in specific circumstances, and not to the abstract person «in general». This law was intuitively felt by Avvakum. The attempt to change the very mode of functioning of the prophetic genre inevitably entailed a partial transformation of his poetics.
The «realism» of «Zhitiye» is referred to the same type of the phenomena, due to the abundance of everyday details in it. Realistic tendencies almost did not develop in the prophetic literature, since the actual context for the sermon was the very atmosphere of oral presentation. The prophecy has never developed into a completely book genre. However, the potential for a realistic image was inherent in it. Avvakum only brought to a logical conclusion those tendencies that slowly matured inside prophetic literature. Undoubtedly, if he had the opportunity to continue his sermon in a scholarly way, his «Zhitiye» (if it were written) would differ significantly from the one we know today.
The analysis of Avvakum’s eschatological ideas allows us to assert that he thought himself not at all an ordinary «laborer» in the matter of divine dispensation, but, apparently, a prophet-forerunner who, unlike John the Baptist, should not simply announce the coming of the Son of God, but , with the appropriate combination of circumstances, radically change the destinies of the world: if the king and the people repent and reject the «Niconian heresy,» the Antichrist will not be able to affirm his short earthly domination, and hence the second coming, as a result which time must turn into eternity, will not take place. In other words, the mission of the future is in a certain way determined by the success of the mission of the herald. With no claiming the title of Savior, finally abolishing history as a «defect of eternity,» the head of the schism nevertheless considered himself a savior, designed to eliminate the greatest of the «defects of history».
All this, certainly, put Avvakum – as he thought – in a special, and deeply «personal» relationship with Christ. Hence comes the structural duality of his «Zhitiye», which sends us simultaneously to the books of the Old Testament prophets and to the Gospels.
The crossing of two genre schemes (though related, but adapted to different tasks) led to the emergence of a hybrid form that combines the characteristics of each of them and at the same time does not coincide with either of them completely. «Zhitiye» of Avvakum is a work with a two-fold symbolic plot. Thanks to the use of standard compositional elements of the prophetic genre (the beginning, the introduction, carrying the main ideas of the book in the concentrated form, the scene of vocation for prophecy, «rebellion» against God), the life story of the disgraced protopope turns into the autobiography of the prophet. And at the same time, thanks to the projection of the events of his biography on the key events of Christ’s earthly life (incarnation, christening, crucifixion and resurrection), the life of Avvakum appears in «Zhitiye» by the indirect way of the potential savior of mankind, capable of preventing the apocalyptic collapse of history.