Sannikov, Sergei Victorovich. Dvadtsat' vekov Khristianstva [Twenty Centuries of Christianity], Volumes 1 and 2; Kto, chto, gde v istorii Khristianstva Who, What, Where in the History of Christianity, Volume 3. Odessa: Bogomyslie, 2001-02.
Reviewed by Gregory Nichols.
Sergei Sannikov has completed a monumental work in the Russian language with his three-volume history of Christianity. The first volume begins with the biblical narrative and follows Christianity through to its first major split in 1054. It also includes an extensive appendix featuring Russian translations of primary sources. The second volume covers the Middle Ages to the present, including an examination of Christian culture in the twentieth century, as well as a bibliography. The third volume consists of a valuable index to the 1300 pages of text, and special sections that locate references to important primary sources.
The author's stated purpose is to trace the course of the whole of Christianity in both the East and the West and to document the impact of Christian culture on world history."It is important," Sannikov writes, "to see the effects Christianity has had on political history, science, art, and music."
The most important feature of this work is its incorporation of the Eastern Orthodox story into the overall saga of Christian history. These volumes do not isolate the Eastern Church in a separate chapter, but rather give Russian readers a truly indigenous and balanced examination of the whole of church history. Because it is the first indigenous post-Soviet text in the field, it has already become the standard reference work for most Russian-speaking Protestant seminaries and Bible schools. Sannikov's history will prove invaluable to visiting professors from the West seeking to understand the Russian church context. On a very practical note, these volumes also provide a convenient location for accepted Russian translations and spellings of Western terms and names, standardized spellings of Russian names, and Russian translations of key texts.
Another noteworthy feature is the excellent physical quality of the volumes. The publishers can take pride in a well-crafted product with an attractive layout and excellent color photography and graphics. Twenty Centuries of Christianity was produced entirely in Eastern Europe and deserves to be regarded as one of the finest scholarly achievements of the region's Evangelical community.
Sannikov, who has published extensively in Russian and Ukrainian history, received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Kyiv Theological Seminary in 1998. As well as teaching and editorial work, he has extensive experience in theological education administration as president of Odessa Theological Seminary (1990-99) and as executive director of the Euro-Asian Accreditation Association of Evangelical Schools since 1999. His Evangelical Christian-Baptist affiliation notwithstanding, his work is evenhanded in its treatment of Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christianity. One can see at times the author's Evangelical orientation, but this does not stand in the way of a balanced handling of all branches of Christianity. Sannikov's strong background in theology shows in his careful rendering of the theological aspects of the development of church history.
Unfortunately, the volumes lack footnotes and the bibliography is uneven. The latter follows an older Soviet academic style that does not include publishers and uses abbreviations for cities of publication. While several sections do treat Christianity in the Americas, Asia, and Africa, the perspective is still decidedly Eurocentric.
I highly recommend Sannikov's text to any Russian readers with an interest in the history of Christianity and to anyone considering ministry in the Russian-speaking world. It will instill a new respect for Christians of the East and their role in church history, as well as provide insight into the ever-elusive Russian soul.
Gregory Nichols teaches church history at the International Baptist Theological Seminary, Prague, Czech Republic.
Gregory Nichols, Review of Dvadtsat' vekov Khristianstva, by S.V. Sannikov, East-West Church & Ministry Report 13 (Spring 2005), 13-14.
Written permission is required for reprinting or electronic distribution of any portion of the East-West Church & Ministry Report.
© 2005 East-West Church and Ministry Report