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STOU Press Plans to Start Publishing Sergei S. Averintsev’s Collected Works in 2024

Sergey Sergeevich Averintsev (10.12.1937–21.02.2004) was a professor, doctor habilitatus, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a foremost Soviet and Russian philologist, culturologist, translator, encyclopedist, publicist, poet and preacher. Sergei Averintsev’s writings during the Soviet period were an amazing testimony to the scholarly erudition of the highest sort, a freedom of thought rare for those times, and a demonstration of the possibility of fundamentally Christian approaches to the history of literature and culture.

Very unfortunately, until now, no collection of the works of this outstanding thinker has been published in Russia. STOU Publishing House has decided to fill this truly gaping hole and to realize this edition, which is highly necessary for the Russian humanities. Averintsev’s significant and diverse legacy will be organized into six thematic volumes, with the publication of the first volume scheduled for the spring of 2024, after which it is planned to publish two volumes per year.

The publication of Averintsev’s Collected Works will provide an opportunity to get to know not only his well-known, major works, but also rare, inaccessible publications that have never been reprinted and are often not available even in libraries. We hope that this will be a valuable and necessary contribution to the preservation of Averintsev’s legacy and will serve as a stimulus for the creative development thereof by contemporary researchers.

To ensure the high academic quality of the edition, an international editorial board has been established to decide on fundamental questions about the composition of the edition as a whole and of specific volumes. It consists of: Prof. Adriano Del Asta (Italy), Prof. Pierluca Azzaro (Italy), Prof. Georges Nivat (France), N. P. Averintseva, Olga Sedakova, Prof. S. P. Karpov, Yurii N. Popov.

The volumes of the Collection will be laid out thematically as follows:

1. Antiquity; 2. Byzantium; 3. Biblical Studies. Old and New Testament. Middle East; 4. Philology; 5. Encyclopedic articles; 6. Poems, sermons, journalism.

The first volume has been compiled and is in the process of publication. It has turned out to be quite voluminous: about 1,000 pages in an enlarged format. In addition to Averintsev’s two books, Plutarch and Ancient Biography and Rhetoric and the Origins of the European Literary Tradition, it includes a selection of Averintsev’s articles and selected translations from antique literature.

In support of this complex and rather expensive publication, STOU has opened a collection on the crowdfunding platform Planeta.ru, where everyone can not only help to realize this project, but also purchase valuable rewards (including the first volume of the Collection itself). We invite everyone who cares about the memory of this remarkable Christian thinker of the past century to participate in our project. Sergei Averintsev has made an invaluable contribution to the development of research on Christian culture in all its diversity, and it is in our power to make this heritage available today, to reintroduce it into the space of current thought in the humanities.

In undertaking this publication, we recall with heartfelt gratitude the warm words that Prof. Averintsev spoke more than thirty years ago, addressing the newly established St. Tikhon’s Theological Institute. His wishes have not remained unfulfilled: the Institute, and now the University, continues to live and develop, working in the field of Church education. It is a great honor and joy for us today to serve in turn the memory of an outstanding scholar and Christian.

Address by Sergei S. Averintsev

to a gathering of teachers and students at the meeting of teachers and students of the Orthodox Theological Institute with the head of the American Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius, which took place on October 2, 1992, at Moscow State University, and was a kind of presentation of the Institute:

I think of all the people who have not lived to see these days, who would cry happy tears from the depths of their hearts if they could see something like this. God did not grant it to them: He is granting it to us, the unworthy. Let us at least feel how much is given to us. We probably do not always feel this to the extent we should. I remember a Russian descended from the first émigré generation asking me: “How can there be so little fire in your worship services after all we have been through?” I keep remembering that question. Let us hope that it is sobriety, not lukewarmness or simply coldness, that does not motivate us to experience so strongly the works of God in our land.

I would like to wish the Institute all the best; the help, humanly speaking, it needs from good people; and help from above, which sometimes gives people the strength to do without the help from people that seems necessary. I wish the professors and students of the Institute to be, in the midst of the general despondency that encompasses the children of this world, bearers of the austere joy given by Christ.

Cheer and activity are needed in our country more than ever. We have lived through a time when it was our duty to resist compulsory and false state-imposed cheer. Now it is just as much or even more our duty to resist the gloom and confusion imposed on us by the world and the prince of this world, the timidity associated no longer with fear of superiors, but with confusion in changing circumstances.

Now, when we pick up literary journals, we see that the mood of general despondency is as much a mood forcibly spread by the prince of this world as the thoughtless Komsomol vigor of yesterday, and one is worth the other. Only Christianity can restore people’s strength, vigor, and hope, which is not of this world and which cannot be destroyed by any of the distresses of this world.

We are now experiencing a very joyful and very dangerous moment, because for the Church, the end of persecution is always a very dangerous moment. As long as people know that by going to worship, they are risking at least trouble at work, they have a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

In the message from the St. Sergius Institute, reference was already made to the 4th century, the century of the most important theological disputes. It was a century that fully experienced all the dangers that the Church encountered when She emerged from the catacombs. Now we are experiencing all this, but – thank God! – the life of a Christian cannot do without sacrifice; the laws of the world make sure of that. When I hear that the professors of the Institute have been teaching for two years for free at a time when each of us is not ashamed to be concerned about how to feed our families, at such a time it is reality that makes us thankfully say: “Thank God, sacrifices are being required again, sacrifices of a different kind. The persecutors as a state authority have ceased to act, but the prince of this world continues to be a persecutor, and his attitude toward Christ’s Church has not changed.”

I would like to conclude by asking everyone to help the Institute in any way they can. I thank you for the opportunity to speak and wish the Institute all the best.