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Relics and Miracles: Two Theological Essays [Kindle Edition]

Sergius Bulgakov , Boris Jakim
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Boris Jakim here presents two major theological essays by Russian Orthodox theologian Sergius Bulgakov in English translation for the first time.

"On Holy Relics," a 1918 response to Bolshevik desecration of the relics of Russian saints, develops a comprehensive theology of holy relics, connecting them with the Incarnation and showing their place in sacramental theology. The second essay, "On the Gospel Miracles," written in 1932, presents a Christological doctrine of miracles, focusing on how human activity relates to the works of Christ.

Both essays are suffused with Bulgakov's faith in Christian resurrection — and with his signature "religious materialism," in which the corporeal is illuminated by the spiritual and the earthly is transfigured into the heavenly.

Editorial Reviews


Boris Jakim has uncovered two gems by Sergei Bulgakov, both of which provide strong and eloquent statements of Bulgakov's fundamental belief in the central place accorded to humanity in creation. Bulgakov's phenomenological approach is animated by acute historical concern (in the case of his 1918 essay on relics) and thoughtful reading of the Gospels (in his later essay on miracles). As Jakim points out in his enlightening introduction, throughout these essays Bulgakov joins philosophical and theological problems to profound pastoral counsel.
— Robert Bird
University of Chicago

About the Author

Sergius Bulgakov (1871–1944) is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s leading Orthodox theologian. His other books include


Boris Jakim is one of the foremost living translators of Russian religious thought into English.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1166 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing; Tra edition (September 2, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005UZNY76
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,626,157 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incarnation and Transfiguration February 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of a slew of shorter works by Bulgakov that have been making their appearance in English recently. At the heart of Bulgakov's theology is 'Divine-Humanity', an extremely subtle reading of the meaning of the two natures of Christ. How did God become man, and how do humans become 'divine'? These two essays on 'Relics' and 'Miracles' are variations on this theme.

'Relics' was occasioned by the desecration of the relics of Russian saints by Soviet 'analysts', who hoped to destroy the people's faith by demonstrating that the relics were merely dusty and rotting bones. Bulgakov in response considered the significance of what it means for the 'flesh' of the saints to be deified. A relic is not necessarily an incorruptible body, but rather a tangible sign that testifies to the deification of a particular human, a piece of matter that has been transfigured through the life of the spirit. Their desecration does not undo the consciousness that believers have of this reality.

'Miracles' is a summary of Bulgakov's understanding of the miraculous signs of Christ, a fuller account of which can be found in his Christological work 'The Lamb of God'. He turns conventional understandings of Christ's miracles on their head, arguing that they were not signs of his divinity but rather the completion of his human work, the precursor of a deified humanity that indicates the potential and goal of human life.

These two essays make more sense in the context of the broader scope of Bulgakov's 'sophiology', but they provide a good taste of his thinking. The essay on relics in particular is a fine example of Bulgakov's ability to integrate marginal topics into central theological concerns. A good primer on sophiology for those who wish to explore Bulgakov further is found in his 'Sophia: The Wisdom of God'.
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