Sergej Khoruzhij, a great Russian theologian and expert in physics, has died
by Stefano Caprio

After the end of communism, he was among the first to spread the texts of the great Russian philosophers and theologians. In Soviet times he adhered to the so-called "inner dissent". He was a member of the Biblical-Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate. His "synergistic anthropology" is the inspiration for a true rebirth of faith and culture in an increasingly secularized world.


Rome (AsiaNews) - One of the most important contemporary Russian theologians, Sergej Khoružij, died yesterday at the age of 78. Physicist, philosopher and theologian, he was also known to the general public as a translator of Ulysses and other books by James Joyce.

He graduated in physics in 1964 and in 1967 he specialized in theoretical physics at the Higher Institute of Mathematics in Moscow. At the same time, he cultivated his philosophical and literary interests, and after the end of communism he was one of the first to spread the texts of the great Russian philosophers and theologians again. He was a member of the Biblical-Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate.

In 1994 Khoruzhij published a commentary anthology, with a very significant title: After the interruption: the paths of Russian philosophy, in which he once again familiarized readers and scholars with the texts of Pavel Florensky, Sergej Bulgakov, Lev Karsavin, Aleksej Losev and many others, that is, the great protagonists of Russian religious philosophy of the early 1900s, by which he himself was inspired. The year before, in 1993, he had been accepted into the philosophical section of the Academy of Sciences, after a life spent in research in mathematics and physics.

Like many other university professors of the Soviet times, Khoružij had in fact preserved his intellectual ties with the Orthodox culture and the previous Russian traditions, without exposing himself to the movements of dissent, but adhering to the so-called "internal dissent", in which the difference with respect to dominant ideology was shared with only a few friends and followers. Some teachers even managed to publish some non-aligned work, or to gather semi-official seminars with students, and thanks to them Russian religious culture has flourished in times of freedom.

Sergej Khoruzhij also tried to propose his own original interpretation of Russian philosophy and theology, not limiting himself to republishing and commenting on pre-revolutionary texts. In 1999 in New York he published the essay Philosophy and Asceticism, trying to make religious philosophy dialogue with the tradition of the Hesychast monks, in a synthesis he defined as "synergistic anthropology". He saw in Hesychast practice, that is, the search for "inner peace", the principle of an entire vision of the world.

In 2005 he even founded an "Institute of Synergistic Anthropology" in Moscow, which for years has been the engine of a great philosophical-theological dialogue in Russia and at an international level. He saw in the great Eastern patristic tradition, patrimony of Orthodoxy, a treasure to be shared not only with other confessions, but also with secular and scientific culture, a dialogue in which he himself had been shaped during the long and hard Soviet years.

Khoružij had many disciples, correspondents and friends in many countries, including Italy and had collaborated with many Catholic institutions. Certainly his thought and his works will still be able to inspire a true rebirth of faith and culture even in the face of the challenges of an increasingly secularized world, but in need of rediscovering the true "anthropological synergies" that allow man to encounter God in every dimension of life.

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