Harvard Theological Review


Georges Florovsky's Monograph “Herzen's Philosophy of History”: The New Archival Material and the Reconstruction of the Full Text

Paul Gavrilyuk

Universtiy of St. Thomas

Georges Florovsky (1893–1979) was a prominent Russian émigré historian, philosopher, Orthodox theologian, and ecumenist. He was also the first Orthodox theologian to teach at Harvard Divinity School (1957–1964). In the 1920s, Florovsky wrote and defended his dissertation on the leading nineteenth-century Russian public intellectual, Alexander Herzen (1812–1870). Until now, the full text of Florovsky's work had been considered lost. I recently found five documents containing a substantial portion of the dissertation in the Georges Florovsky Papers archive of the St Vladimir's Seminary Library (GFP SVS). This newly discovered material amounts to about one-half of the dissertation and contains some important clues for reconstructing the remaining half of the work. My article discusses: 1) the plan of the dissertation and the history of its composition; 2) Florovsky's defense of the dissertation in Prague in 1923, as summarized in Alexander Izgoev's report, preserved in the Georges Florovsky Papers at the Princeton University Library (GFP PUL); 3) Florovsky's preparation of the dissertation for publication; 4) the description of the newly discovered archival material; and 5) the reconstruction of the dissertation, as preserved in the redactions of 1928–1930. The dissertation is the only monographic study that Florovsky ever finished, his other book-length studies being surveys rather than monographs. The dissertation is also important for understanding the methodological presuppositions of Florovsky's magnum opus, The Ways of Russian Theology (1937).