Rifet Bahtijaragic Bach of Vancouver, BC writes:
Could you please make some connection between Bogomils and Doukhobors?
Maps from Bogomilism, Origins (Wikipedia), and
The Doukhobors in Russia, 1802, by Jonathan Kalmakoff.
Answer by Koozma and Andrei
Bogomil means 'favored by God', or 'dear to God'. Doukhobor means 'spirit wrestler'. Both appear to have partially evolved from ancient Gnostic sects south of the Russian Empire, and may be indirectly connected.
The Bogomils were dualists or Gnostics in that they believed in a world within the body and a world outside the body. They did not use the Christian cross, nor build churches, as they revered their gifted form and considered their body to be the temple. This gave rise to many forms of practice to cleanse oneself through purging, fasting, celebrating and dancing. (Bogomilism, Wikipedia)What little is known of Gnostic sects 2000 years ago appears similar to some characteristics of staroobryadtsy (old ritualists) and many varieties of folk-protestants in Russia, including many tribes of Spiritual Christians, like dukhobortsy — all dissidents and non-conformers to a ruling orthodox faith, heretics.
Many publications say Doukhobors may have evolved from Bogomils, but you seem to be asking exactly how they connected. It appears that at different times in different places, Bogomils and Doukhobors were both influenced by ancient Gnosticism, and Bogomils may not have directly connected with Doukhobors about 7 centuries after they formed in southern Europe.
The map shows that most of Gnosticism migrated into southern Europe, forming the Bogomils and other sects, and a few missionaries traveled north, east of the Black Sea, delivering their teachings north into the territory of the Doukhobors about 700-800 years before Doukhobors were named. This is probably the possible 'connection' you are seeking.
The Slavonic sources are unanimous on the point that Bogomil's teaching was Manichaean. A Synodikon [book] from the year 1210 adds the names of his pupils or "apostles", Mihail, Todur, Dobri, Stefan, Vasilie and Peter. Zealous missionaries carried their doctrines far and wide. In 1004, scarcely 25 years after the introduction of Christianity into Kievan Rus [Doukhobor territory], we hear of a priest Adrian teaching the same doctrines as the Bogomils. He was imprisoned by Leontius, Bishop of Kiev. In 1125, the Church in the south of Rus had to combat another heresiarch named Dmitri. (Bogolmilism, Origins, Wikipedia)Dukhobortsy were named about 234 years ago, in 1786, 782 and 667 years after the apostles Adrian and Dmitri were documented and stopped.
Dr. Svetlana Inikova, Russian Academy of Science, has extensively researched Doukhobors and their history in Russia. In 2000 she reported:
Scholars still have not solved the question as to where or when the movement first appeared. ... This is due primarily to the scarcity of eighteenth-century historical sources, and secondarily to the difficulty in accurately identifying the dissidents described in the documents. (Spiritual Origins and the Beginnings of Doukhbor History, 2000, Doukhobor Genealogy Website.)What little may exist of this history is probably buried in foreign archives and libraries. Finding the details and publishing in English is a task for future scholars. The spread of Gnosticism into the growing Russian Empire is generally not shown in histories that focus on the origins of Catharism in Europe.
I believe the Doukhobors acquired and lost many characteristics since 1786, from many cultures they encountered throughout their history. In the 1890s, Lev N. Tolstoy was a major influence.
A major contrast with Bogomils is that Doukhobors, as far as I know, were not dualists. They did not believe that the world is divided by God and Satan, but they shared with Bogomils the rejection of the church, its dogma, its hierarchy, and lavish decorations such as icons. Both called each other brothers and sisters and treated each other as such. As well they believed in unity of everything including respecting nature, and being active instead of following a literal interpretation of the scriptures. Above all, human beings were to be treated as divine — so that it became wrong to kill a member of the human family.
In brief, both Bogomils and Doukhobors believed in a radical reform of the 'church'. Their ideal conception was in being good people pure and simple. They may be indirectly connected.
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