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Vladimir Sergeevich Soloviev

1853-1900. Russian theologian and philosopher. The son of a Russian historian, he was graduated from the University of Moscow in 1873 and was appointed a fellow in the faculty of philosophy. After research in London and Egypt he returned to Moscow in 1876. In 1877 he moved to the University of St. Petersburg. Dostoevsky* and Leo Tolstoy* were among those present at his lectures on “Godmanhood.” He was forced into retirement in 1881 after he advocated mercy for the assassins of Alexander II. He then devoted his life to his writings.

Soloviev was deeply influenced by German idealistic philosophy and Gnostic mysticism. The nucleus of his religious and philosophical system was his doctrine of Godmanhood, by which he meant the union of humanity and divinity through identification of man with Christ, the Incarnate Word. Included in this is the concept of “positive total unity,” his synthesis of religion, philosophy, and science. His Sophiology which originated in his early mystical experiences is identified with Eternal Womanhood or Divine Wisdom. He advocated the reunion of the Eastern and Western churches and the establishment of a universal theocracy. Because of his communion with Rome, he is sometimes called “the Russian Newman,” although he remained within the Orthodox Church. Among his works are Lectures Concerning Godmanhood (1878), The History and the Future of Theocracy (1886), La Russie et l'église Universelle (1889), and Three Conversations (1899-1900).

See N. Zernov, Three Russian Prophets (1944), and E. Munzer, Solovyev, Prophet of Russian-Western Unity (1956).