2019, Volume 16, Issue 2

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Sergey O. Goryaev
Ural Federal University
Ekaterinburg, Russia

Polyonymity in Monasticism
Review of the book: Uspenskij, B. A., & Uspenskij, F. B. (2017). Inocheskiie imena na Rusi [Monastic Names in Medieval Russia]. Moscow; St Petersburg: Institute of Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; Nestor History. 344 p.

Voprosy onomastiki, 2019, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp. 281–290 (in Russian)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2019.16.2.027

Received 23 April 2019

Abstract: The reviewed book focuses on a particular category of Russian anthroponymy — the names of monastics of all degrees, that is, rassophore, little schema, and great schema. As is known, the tonsure rite in the Orthodox Church regularly involves a change in the name of a person who “takes on an angelic image,” that is, becomes a monk. Questions relating to the systemic nature of this renaming, the circumstances thereof, and the principles of choosing a new name are the subject of special attention of the reviewed publication. On the whole, the monograph is an outcome of a long-term and fundamental collaborative research on Old Russian anthroponymy performed by B. A. Uspenskij and F. B. Uspenskij (father and son) and A. F. Litvina (the spouse of the latter), but here the chronological framework is extended up to modern times. The line between the Old Russian and the later tradition is usually marked by the second South Slavic influence and the reforms of Patriarch Nikon, which in many respects were also a product of the Greek and Western Russian traditions. Among the main strengths of the reviewed work are a broad historical perspective — from the times of Kievan Rus’ to the present, deep immersion into theological (liturgical and legal ecclesiastical) issues, the abundance of factual and illustrative material (chronicles, church documents, hagiography, epistolary sources) added by contemporary works and personal observations of the authors. At the same time, the review notes that some conclusions are of a purely hypothetical type, due to the scarcity of historical sources and factual data. However, the authors are well aware of it, which affects the overall “tone” of the book as they outline the problems, both solved and unresolved, encouraging the readers to enter the scientific discussion.

Keywords: personal name, Old Rus’, Orthodoxy, monasticism, rassophore, little schema, great schema.


Litvina, A. F., & Uspenskij, F. B. (2006). Vybor imeni u russkikh kniazei v X–XVI vv.: Dinasticheskaia istoriia skvoz’ prizmu antroponimiki [The Choice of Names among the Russian Princes in the 10th–16th Centuries. Dynastic History in the Anthroponymic Perspective]. Moscow: Indrik.

Uspenskij, B. A. (2016). Antonii Pecherskii i nachal’naia istoriia russkogo monashestva (Riasofor v Drevnei Rusi) [St Anthony of Kiev and the Earliest History of Russian Monasticism (Novitiates in Old Rus’)]. Slověne = Slovѣne: International Journal of Slavic Studies, 5(1), 70–113.

Uspenskij, F. B. (2017). Khristianskaia dvuimennost’ na Rusi v XIV–XVI vekakh. Dogadki i zakonomernosti [Christian Double Names in Russia in the 14th–16th Centuries. Assumptions and Regular Patterns]. In Yu. E. Shustova (Ed.), Vspomogatel’nye istoricheskie distsipliny v sovremennom nauchnom znanii: materialy XXIX Mezhdunar. nauch. konf. (Moskva, 13–15 aprelia 2017 g.) [Peripheral Historical Disciplines in Contemporary Scientific Knowledge: Proceedings of the 29th International Conference] (pp. 41–44). Moscow: Akvilon.