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The Visible Religion

The Russian Orthodox Church and her Relations with State and Society in Post-Soviet Canon Law (1992–2015)

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Alexander Ponomariov

«The Visible Religion» is an antithesis to Thomas Luckmann’s concept. The Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet canon law suggests a comprehensive cultural program of modernity. Researched through the paradigms of multiple modernities and post-secularity, the ROC appears to be quite modern: she reflects on herself and the secular environment, employs secular language, appeals to public reason, the human rights discourse, and achievements of modern science. The fact that the ROC rejects some liberal Western developments should not be understood in the way that the ROC rejects modernity in general. As a legitimate player in the public sphere, the ROC puts forward her own – Russian Orthodox – model of modernity, which combines transcendence and immanence, theological and social reasoning, an afterlife strategy and cooperation with secular actors, whereby eschatology and the human rights discourse become two sides of the same coin.

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2. Orthodox Canon Law

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82

2.1. “Canon” and Types of Canon Law

The English word “canon” and other paronymous words originate from the Greek word κανών, which in turn goes back to Semitic קנה “cane.” Κανών has a number of meanings, from a straight rod or bar to the rules of the Church. It is clear that the initial “yardstick” made of cane was then extended to imply standards, norms, and rules (see Ohme 1998: 21–28).

Canon law can be fundamentally subdivided as follows (Tsypin 2012: 25): divine (instructions are believed to originate “directly from God”); positive or ecclesiastical (Ferme 2007: 8–9), that is, Church acts; internal; external (relations with state and society); written; oral (binding traditions); common (laws mandatory for all the LOCs); particular (laws applicable to some LOCs). Hence, the ROC canon law analyzed herein can be categorized as external, ecclesiastical, written, and particular.

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