Northern Illinois University Press

Russia’s Uncommon Prophet

Father Aleksandr Men and His Times

Wallace L. Daniel

“Wallace Daniel’s book is one of the best ever on the Russian Orthodox Church in the communist period. It is much more than a biography: in its way, it is also a history of the Russian Church from the 1950s to the collapse of communism in the days of Mikhail Gorbachev.” —Michael Bourdeaux, founder and president of the Keston Institute

Russia’s Uncommon Prophet is especially valuable for the way it places Fr Men within the context of Soviet history and the political changes of perestroika under Gorbachev, a period when Fr Men was able to fulfill his gifts as a missionary and writer.” —Church Times

"Russia’s Uncommon Prophet weaves together Men'’s intellectual journey with his biography and makes a valuable contribution to the history of religion in Russia and also to our understanding of late Soviet society." —Canadian Slavonic Papers

This lucidly written biography of Aleksandr Men examines the familial and social context from which Men developed as a Russian Orthodox priest. Wallace Daniel presents a picture of Russia and the Orthodox Church different from the stereotypes found in much of the popular literature. Men offered an alternative to the prescribed ways of thinking imposed by the state and the church. Growing up during the darkest, most oppressive years in the history of the former Soviet Union, he became a parish priest who eschewed fear, who followed Christ’s command “to love thy neighbor as thyself,” and who attracted large, diverse groups of people in Russian society. How he accomplished those tasks and with what ultimate results are the main themes of this story.

Conflict and controversy marked every stage of Men’s priesthood. His parish in the vicinity of Moscow attracted the attention of the KGB, especially as it became a haven for members of the intelligentsia. He endured repeated attacks from ultra-conservative, antisemitic circles inside the Orthodox Church. Father Men represented the spiritual vision of an open, non-authoritarian Christianity, and his lectures were extremely popular. He was murdered on September 9, 1990. For years, his work was unavailable in most church bookstores in Russia, and his teachings were excoriated by some both within and outside the church. But his books continue to offer hope to many throughout the world—they have sold millions of copies and are testimony to his continuing relevance and enduring significance. This important biography will appeal to scholars and general readers interested in religion, politics, and global affairs.

April 2016, 468 pp., 20 illus., 6x9
ISBN 978-0-87580-733-1
$39.00x Paper

Wallace L. Daniel is Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University. He is the co-editor of Perspectives on Church-State Relations in Russia and the author of The Orthodox Church and Civil Society in Russia, as well as many articles on Russian economic, social, and religious history.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-733-1
paper $39.00