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A Prodigal Saint: Father John of Kronstadt and the Russian People (Penn State Series in Lived Religious Experience) Paperback – May 23, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A powerful and multidimensional portrait of the controversial Father John of Kronstadt, presented against the backdrop of Late Imperial religious life. Drawing on a rich source base, Kizenko offers an impartial and balanced interpretation of this pivotal figure. Reading this book is like stepping back into the world of a century ago, seeing the concerns, both material and spiritual, which occupied people’s lives.”

—Eve Levin, Ohio State University



“Kizenko manages to intertwine biography, socio-political analysis, theological discussion and Church history to produce a clear and captivating book on a subject that has suffered from a dearth of academic attention.”

—Argyrios K. Pisiotis, H-Russia



“This study is exemplary in its approach to the phenomenon of sanctity and, to my knowledge, the first one of such a scholarly caliber on Russian sanctity in particular. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone who would go beyond Dostoevsky’s novels for an understanding of Russian Orthodoxy.”

—Arkadi Choufrine, Koinonia: The Princeton Theological Seminary Graduate Forum



“This book is part of a growing literature on one of the most important but neglected aspects of Imperial Russia. It offers us an understanding of a complex and charismatic figure and the world in which he operated. It helps break down many of the simplistic assumptions about religion and it sets Russia in its European context. It is a very welcome addition to the literature.”

—Shane O’Rourke, Journal of Religious History



“In this beautifully written biography of Father John (Ioann Il’ich Sergiev) of Kronstadt (1829–1908), Nadieszda Kizenko presents a remarkably sensitive and balanced portrait of this central figure of the Orthodox Church in late imperial Russia. . . . Kizenko’s biography demonstrates the power and importance of Orthodoxy and Orthodox religiosity at the end of the empire. . . . [A Prodigal Saint] will be a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in European Christianity.”

—Eugene Clay, Journal of Modern History



“In the end I learned a great deal from this work, which to my mind has gone a long way toward explaining the endurance and transformation of supernatural authority in fin-de-siecle Russia.”

—Gary Marker, Slavic and East European Journal



“Kizenko has given us a highly perceptive and eminently readable study of a man and a time that are easily misunderstood. . . . This is not a book for beginners; Kizenko presupposes some prior knowledge both of the Russian Church and Russian history. Her translations from the Russian are smooth and idiomatic, and considering the complexities of the subject, she is always clear. . . . Kizenko has set a standard that others in the field would do well to follow.”

—Peter Eaton, Anglican Theological Review

About the Author

Nadieszda Kizenko is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Albany. She has contributed articles to Russian Review, Pravoslavnaia Rus', PSALM Notes, Russkoe Vozrozhdenie, and Peace and Change.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penn State Series in Lived Religious Experience
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press (May 23, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 027101976X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271019765
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
An well researched, insightful and VERY WELL BALANCED look at the life of St. John of Krostadt. A must read for any Russian Orthodox Christian.
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Format: Paperback
The book chronicles the life of Father John of Kronstadt, a controversial and highly profiled religious figure during the pre-revolutionary period. Details of his life and his world are fascinating. Seeing how he is approached for help and his actions indirectly reveals much about those living in Russia during that time. the book was also very helpful in dispelling some of the myths that commonly surround this man.
I think this is an excellent read for Orthodox Christians and ALSO anyone interested in Russia during that time period.
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Format: Paperback
I find myself reading this book since I had to do a 10-page book review for my Russian history class and I have to say it's a very good book. It's not a hagiography, just as the author states at the beginning of the book, which means the reader won't find any phrase like: "The most holy, most righteous, Father John of Kronstadt."
It's a well-researched book. Kizenko employs primary sources such as Father John's diaries as well as popular press representations of him. She also uses the thousands of letters sent to him by people asking for his prayers. These are also good sources when trying to find how others perceived him. Many of these letters were from women and Kizenko makes a good argument about the importance of women in religion.
One interesting point that Kizenko makes is the conflict between a saint's or a priest's two bodies - body public and body private - and how Father John dealt with this conflict.
The only weak point of the book is Kizenko's attempt to condemn the Ioannites, a cultic sect of the Orthodox Church who believed that Father John was kind of a savior. Kizenko does not entirely succeed in arguing that the Ioannites were a blemish in Father John's reputation.
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Format: Paperback
I have the immense pleasure to have Dr. Nadieszda Kizenko as my professor of Russian History at the University at Albany. This book is a must read, it clearly illuminates the life of "A Prodigal Saint" during a time period of religious revival in Russia. Wonderfully written, easy to read, and follow.
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A fascinating look at a man of miracles who was regarded as a Russian Orthodox saint during his lifetime, but whose reputation suffered greatly as a result of his absolute commitment to the autocracy of the Romanov's. Well written and informative
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He was simply too gorgeous not to find out about him. This book was SO readable. So VERY interesting. Not just the man (who is as fascinating as he looks!) but a portal into another religious/political clime, nation and culture - and now an Orthodox "Wonderworker" Saint on our Catholic family "altar." Known in his lifetime as "Russia's Pastor" he's definitely the Saint to intercede NOW for Russia and the Ukraine.
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Very thorough. The author covers the subject objectively, but with the understanding and perspective that perhaps only the daughter of Russian Orthodox Priest who is also a Russian historian could pull off.
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