Bulgakov, Sergeĭ Nikolaevich

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Russian economist, philosopher, and theologian; b. Livny, Orel Region, central Russia, July 16, 1871; d. Paris, July 13, 1944. He came of a family of Orthodox priests. He studied at the seminary in Orel until a religious crisis caused his transfer to a school in Elcy, where he completed his secondary education. In 1890 he entered the University of Moscow as a convinced Marxist. But his master's dissertation (written in Russian, as were almost all his works), Capitalism and Agriculture (2 v.1900), questioned Marx's basic thesis because agricultural development did not substantiate it. While professor of political economy at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute (190106), he experienced a second spiritual crisis, as described in his From Marxism to Idealism (1903). He transferred in 1906 to the Commercial Institute of Moscow, where he became intimately friendly with Pavel florenskiĬ and Nicholĭ berdi[symbol omitted]ev. His doctoral dissertation, Philosophy of Economics (1912), showed the influence of the doctrine of Sophia or Divine Wisdom derived from Vladimir solov'ev and Florenskiĭ. The Unfading Light (1917) terminated Bulgakov's purely philosophical writing. Thereafter he concentrated on theology. In 1918 he became an Orthodox priest. When the Bolshevists forced him to relinquish his professional chair, he moved to the Crimea. The government caused him to flee to Prague in 1922. From 1925 until his death he served as dean of the Russian Orthodox Theological Institute of St. Sergius in Paris. Although he steeped himself in the Fathers of the Church, he interpreted them in a very liberal fashion and was greatly influenced by German idealism. His principal theological works were The Burning Bush, The Friend of the Bridegroom, and Jacob's Ladder, which form the "small trilogy" (192729); and The Lamb of God, The Comforter, and The Bride of the Lamb, which constitute his "large trilogy" (193346). His writings frequently assailed Catholic doctrines. His own doctrine on Divine Wisdom caused so much controversy among the Russian Orthodox by seeming to postulate a fourth divine person that it was condemned by the Synod of Karlovci, Yugoslavia, and by Patriarch Sergeĭ of Moscow (1935). Bulgakov submitted to Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris and declared his belief in all Orthodox dogmas. His "sophiology" was, he said, merely his personal interpretation of these beliefs. A popular exposition of his doctrines appeared in English as The Wisdom of God (1937).

Bibliography: v. v. zenkovsky, History of Russian Philosophy, tr. g. l. kline, 2 v. (New York 1953) 2:890916. n. o. lossky, History of Russian Philosophy (New York 1951). l. zander, in Irénikon 9 (1946) 168185. b. schultze, Russische Denker (Vienna 1950). i. h. dalmais, Catholicisme 2:307309.

[j. papin]