Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. Christopher R. Hallpike
This thesis describes a community of Russian Old Believers in the province of Alberta. In order to introduce this relatively unknown religious minority, the largely ethnographic account presents a picture of the residents' history, economy, kinship, political organization, and cosmology. In view of the great influence of religious views and values on the lifestyle of the Old Believers, particular attention is paid to their 'religious culture'. This realm is examined historically, and attention is drawn to the continued importance of symbols of orthodoxy whose roots are embedded in Byzantine and Muscovite traditions. Especially striking is the interdependence between religious orthodoxy and physical purity, which is indicative of a symbiotic relationship between the home and the church. It is suggested that the lack of priesthood and proper sacraments has been overcome by the local Old Believers owing to the ability to compensate for this loss with an increase in domestic purity. This interpretation of the connection between the core and the periphery of the religious culture leads to the hypothesis that the proverbial 'ritualism' of the Old Believers derives not so much from 'blind traditionalism' as from an interdependence between ritual and dogma whose extent has been unrecognized by most commentators.
Scheffel, David, "The Old Believers of Berezovka" (1988). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2057.