Author Mara Kozelsky, an assistant professor of history at the
University of South Alabama (USA), explores the influence of
Russian-nationalist print sources concerning Crimea that the Russian
Orthodox Church created over the years from 1783, at the time of the
Russian annexation, until the post-Soviet era. However, her emphasis of
investigation and analysis is on the era of Csar Nicholas I (1825-1855)
. Therefore, print materials authored by several leading figures of
19th-century nationalists inside the Russian Church provided primary
sources for this book.
In addition, the phenomenon of "Christianizing," as indicated in the
title, refers to Russia having founded Orthodox institutions and
practices in the Crimea that Russian nationalists considered
"synonymous with identity" . "To Christianize" otherwise would have
meant conversion to the Christian religion, which is not its use in
The author's central premise combines "confessional politics"  of
the Church with international politics about the so-called Eastern
Question. She identifies the Eastern Question as raised in vagaries
over how nations with interests in lands held by a crippled Ottoman
Empire jockeyed for power to control them. In specific reference to the
Crimea, the Eastern Question pertained to international tensions linked
to the Crimean War (October 1853-February 1856), Balkan nationalism,
tolerance or persecution of religious groups, and exchanges in ethnic
The appeal of this book to general and specialized readers is one
reason for my enthusiastic recommendation. A second reason is the
author's clear writing.
There are six chapters and a post-Soviet Epilogue in the book.
Extensive footnotes have been arranged as end-notes [197-208], and a
bibliography [239-63] includes 15 primary Russian-language sources
[transliterated] by Archbishop Innokentii as well as archival sources
from GAARK in the Crimea and GAOO (Odessa)--two regional archives, and
RGIA [archive repository] and the RNB (St. Petersburg), in addition to
more than several-hundred primary texts. Sixteen black-and-white
photographs of seldom seen Crimean Orthodox churches, monasteries, and
landscapes from holy places appear midway through the book. Four
demographic tables provide numeric data concerning new Russian colonies
and Crimean populations before and after the Crimean War.
There are textual insights that I appreciated learning. These included
comparative differences between nationalist aims of the Church and
Russian monarchy, emerging views of Russian religious tolerance in the
Crimea before and after the Crimean War, and strategic adaptations by
Russian Orthodox prelates to Christianizing Tatars. Overall I
appreciated how Kozelsky emphasized the importance of 19th-century
developments in munitions, transportation and educational travel,
evangelization and proselytizing, and social trust across ethnic,
linguistic and religious groups in the Crimea.
Kozelsky walks a fine line between the denotation of the verb "to
Christianize" and her use of the term as an institutional phenomenon of
Russian nationalism. For example, she observes that Archbishop
Innokentii "...sympathized with the plight of the Eastern Christians"
 during the Crimean War. She quotes from sermons that Innokentii
delivered around the time of the Saturday before Pascha [10 April 1854]
bombardment of Odessa [129-33], where he and other priests remained to
serve. Kozelsky presents the sermons as testimony to Innokentii's
encouragement of the Orthodox faithful to suffer with Jesus Christ
during the bombing. In addition, she demonstrates how Innokentii served
Russian nationalist interests by circulating the sermons in pamphlets
across principal Russian cities, such as Kyiv, St. Petersburg, and
Moscow, in order to solicit support for Russian interests in the Crimea.
Into every good book, a little rain must fall. The index, which
combines names and subjects, is sturdy in politics and signal events
for the most part, but illiterate (or indifferent) in ecclesiastical
references. Just brushing the surface in my review of the index, lack
in ecclesiastical references leaves critical lacunae.
For example, the index fails to identify Archbishop Innokentii
(Borisov) by either family name (Borisov) or canonical name
(Innokentii). Moreover, there are no references to Archbishop or Bishop
for Innokentii, which might have presented a typical indexing error had
official rank and title preceded canonical name. For example, the
indexer noted Bishop Klyment correctly by canonical name followed by
"Bishop," even though Klyment played a minor role in text. However,
Innokentii's publications provide foundation and structure to the
entire book, and readers will miss this entry.
Also absent from the index are English titles of Archbishop
Innokentii's works that appear prominently in the text [17,19], as well
as secondary Russian and English sources that the text employed at
least several times [e.g. 37]. Difficult as the omission of subjects
"Christian" or "Christianizing" are to reconcile given the title and
content of the book, neither subject appears in the index.
Other glaring omissions from the index are subjects such as (1)
sectarians--a generic term in text concerning non-Orthodox Christians
, (2) 'Russian' or 'Orthodox' or 'Church' [cf. all references for
"Holy Synod"], (3) Lutherans [23,36], (4) Anglicans or Church of
England , (5) the 'United Kingdom' or 'Great Britain' or 'England'
[cf. Chapter 5, "War:" 125-49], (6) Mother of God or Theotokos --to
wit, cf. entries in index for Dormition Monastery, (7) Church of Greece
as distinct from either "Greece" or "Greeks" , (8) millet [68
passim] [NB: the reference to "Dhimmis"  without in-text
capitalization], (9) Eastern Christians [67,127], and (10) "Russian/New
Athos." "Russian or New Athos" is a subject employed in text as central
to the enterprise of primary sources [63,73], and should have been
cross-referenced with the entry for "Crimean Athos" .
Headings for Catholicism  and Greek Catholic Church  are
identified and accurate. However, it is safe to say that this
historical text required employing an indexer with demonstrable
theological skills to create a robust subject/name index.
Do not allow the poor index to make you dismiss this book. Its sterling
effects are too many, and place the book as necessary reading for
historians, theologians, politicians and anyone with interest in the
intersections of major religions in the Balkans, Anatolia/Turkey,
Greece, Black Sea-region, and contemporary nations with historical
relationships to the Russian Orthodox Church.