[Denisov, Andrei Dionisevich]
This is a doctrinally eloquent and sporadically beautiful manuscript that presents a stout response by the Old Believers to the 1722 decree of Peter the Great whilst protesting loyalty to the monarch.
There were two generations of Old Believer writers. The first, a spontaneous movement within the Church, launched an ideological campaign against Patriarch Nikon, who was responsible for revising the service books. However, this generation of Old Believers failed to impress and were excommunicated at the council of 1667.
The second generation of Old Believers settled in a priestless and marriageless semi-monastic community located in the mineral rich region of Vyg and adopted the name of Pomorie ("living by the shore"). On account of the rich mineral deposits, the community survived, but their land was for the same reason coveted by the government.
Andrei Denisov (1674-1730), a scholar with access to an impressive library considering his community's isolation, composed this response to Nikonianism with a masterly command of the Greek Fathers, adherence to classic Orthodox doctrine and a strong sense of history: defending Moscow as the Third Rome. The manuscript opens with the text of Peter's decree and the Old Believers' response is in the form of questions and answers. Perhaps the decorative highlight of the manuscript is the series of hand illustrations. The proper way to bless was one of the most divisive issues in the conflict between the Old Believers and the New Orthodoxy.
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