THE FIRST CHRISTIANS ON THE TERRITORY OF MODERN RUSSIA

THE FIRST CHRISTIANS ON THE TERRITORY OF MODERN RUSSIA

The project implies work in several directions:

Research of the basic archaeological monuments (according to the task).
Here, on Tamansky peninsula, the well-known Tmutarakan was situated. This is the place where the antique and the Old Russian cultures met naturally. Here the Abbot of Kievo-Pechersk monastery in 1078 — 1088, Nikon Pecherskiy (the Great), the chronicler, the builder of the Monastery in the name of PreSaint Bogoroditsa in Tmutarakan pursued his activities. Moreover, it was on Tamansky peninsula where there appeared the first Christian settlements on the present territory of the Russian Federation, the archaeological researches in Golubitskaya village (Russia), a site of ancient settlement of Ilyichevsk (Trebizond) and the settlement «Za Rodinu!» (Hrisaliska residence) point to the fact.

The site of ancient settlement of Ilichevsk is the main monument of early Christianity on the territory of present Russia. Now the most part of the fortress is explored. Thanks to long-term and accurate excavations carried out by E.Y.Nikolaeva we do not only have a rich material on this theme, but also we can predict the discovery of new objects (bronze workshops, churches etc.). Further studying of the monument can throw light on a number of problems. We suppose to conduct works with the assistance of E.Y.Nikolaeva as the supervisor of studies and the adviser to this direction of the project.

Renewal of works on Golubitskaya fortress is no less important. Some years later the fortress will be partially used as a modern cemetery, partially destroyed by economical activities and will undergo reconstruction. At the same time, only archeological excavations can throw light on the origin of Russes questions we are interested in.

Researches of the ancient Ghermonassa-Tamatarkha-Tmutarakan-Taman will be continuing. It is a unique monument on the territory of the former Soviet Union where all epoch from VII century BC and to the present are represented. Besides, here are also monuments of early Christians.

During the last decades there has appeared a lot of new data about the beginning of Christianity on the territory of our country. In the first place we talk about the excavations on Tamanskiy peninsula. A considerable quantity of the epigraphy data, inscriptions, and a number of written sources as well has been explored, rethought and put into circulation. Now the standard point of view on the beginning of Christianity in Russia in the Chersonese in 988 can be considered first of all as a traditional tribute. It is also not only a scientific question. The annalistic version of the events connected to the Christening of Russia appeared owing to a tendentious presentation of the fact by the Greek clergy of Desjatinnaya church in the middle of XI century. At the same time there is a number of the data pointing out to the fact that on the territory of Tamanskiy peninsula the Christianity appeared in I century BC, i.e. at the same time when the Christening of Rome occurred. It confirms one of the church traditions about St. Apostle Andrey Pervozvanniy preaching there during 40s on the territory of Bospor. Along with it, the archaeological data and the epigraphy sources show that the process of the Christening began in the I – II century extended, and V – VI centuries are already considered as the time of «the prevailing Christianity».

The second problem on which it is necessary to stop is the appearance of Russes on Tamanskiy peninsula in VI century. The island of Russes and the city of Russija (Rossia) are repeatedly mentioned by eastern chronists and geographers. In the IX century there was already a bishop in Russija. The most probable is localization of Russija at the present Golubitskaya station. According to a number of researchers the role of Russes from Taman in stating the Kiev Russia is considerably bigger than it is considered to be. A number of scientists connect Russes' campaigns to Amastria, Surozh, Tsargrad, and to the persons of Askold and Dir. Thus, it turns out that having grasped Kiev in 864, Askold and Dir not only brought the terms of «Russia» and «Russes», but also «Christianity».

The third problem on which it is necessary to stop, is directly connected with the two previous ones. The Bospor's Christening began at the same time as of Rome and Constantinople. Moreover, there is a range of indirect data that Christian refugees could appear on Bospor even earlier than in Rome, anyway — not later than 69. They heard the sermon from the lips of St. Andrey Pervozvanniy, one of the Apostles, the pupil of the Christ.

So, on Taman there existed one of the first Apostolic Churches. And it was that Church which prepared the Christening of Russia in 988.

All these questions demand further studying, on the one hand, and on the other hand it is necessary to popularize this data as much as possible allowing others to look at the origin, the Christening of Russia, its place in a family of the Christian people.

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