Zabaev Ivan

Humility and mutuality: an analysis of ethos of contemporary Russian orthodoxy

Zabaev Ivan (2022) "Humility and mutuality: an analysis of ethos of contemporary Russian orthodoxy ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 102, pp. 87-116 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022102.87-116


The article considers humility as one of the key categories in the practical ethos of Russian Orthodoxy. Sociological and theological problems related to this category are discussed and formulated. The main emphasis is on the analysis of the relationship in the pair "the one who humbles - the one who gives humility". The formulation of the problem of humility in this form is not obligatory, but it is precisely this problem that has received a certain spread in Orthodox discourse today. The reduction of the fullness of the problem to such a configuration of relations leaves many important subjects out of consideration, but at the same time allows us to concentrate on one problematic point noted in modern Orthodox discourse.To discuss the logic of the ethics of humility was chosen the following text - "Asceticism according to Orthodox Christian teaching" by S. Zarin. On its basis, the dominant interpretation is described – "humility as acceptance of humiliation." Relying on texts discussing humility both inside and outside the Church, the author shows that one of the central virtues of Russian Orthodoxy is embodied in such a practice, which has a number of "ambiguous" consequences.At the same time, the author points out the deep rootedness of the category of humility in Orthodox ethics and suggests turning to the texts of the New Testament in search of a nuance in the understanding of humility and suggestions for the embodiment of this virtue in practice, capable of minimizing these ambiguous consequences. This nuance – mutuality – the author finds in the Epistles of the st. Paul. By analyzing the meaning of humility and the use of this concept in the text of the epistles of the apostle, the importance of recmutuality of actors entering into interaction is shown.In conclusion, the presence of such an interpretation in the Russian Orthodox tradition, namely in the texts of Theophanes the Recluse, is discussed. Thus, the assumption is substantiated that such an interpretation is not alien to the Orthodox worldview. The author suggests that the emphasis on mutuality in understanding and practicing humility could help to remove a number of negative effects that are fixed today (and were fixed earlier) both inside and outside the Church.


Apostle Paul, Orthodox ethics, humility, mutuality, reciprocity, social relations, S. Zarin, Theophan the Recluse


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Information about the author

Zabaev Ivan

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Sociology;
Place of work: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for the Humanities; 6/1 Likhov pereulok, Moscow 127051, Russian Federation;
Post: Associate professor of the Theological Faculty;
ORCID: 0000-0001-9876-9093;
Email: zabaev-iv@yandex.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.