Alexander Schmemann

Alexander Dmitrievich Schmemann (Russian: Александр Дмитриевич Шмеман; 13 September 1921 in Tallinn, Estonia – 13 December 1983 in Crestwood, New York)[1] was an influential Orthodox Christian priest, teacher, and writer. From 1946 to 1951 he taught in Paris, and afterwards in New York. In his teachings and writings he sought to establish the close links between Christian theology and Christian liturgy. At the time of his death, he was the dean of the Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Alexander Schmemann
Father Alexander Schmemann holding a chalice during Divine Liturgy

Early life and studies

Alexander Schmemann was born in 1921 in Tallinn, Estonia, into a family of Russian émigrés.[1] His grandfather had been a senator and a member of the State Council and his father an officer of the Imperial Life-Guards. When he was a child his family moved to France, where he was educated in Russian schools and at a French lycee before becoming a student at the University of Paris (1940–1945), where he wrote a thesis on theocracy and the Eastern Roman Empire. In 1943 he married Juliana Osorguine (1923–2017), before completing his theological studies in 1945 at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris (where he studied with the noted Russian theologian, Father Sergei Bulgakov, amongst others).


In 22 October 1946 Schmemann was ordained to the presbyterate of the Orthodox Church by Vladimir (Tikhonicky). From 1946–51 he taught church history at St. Sergius Institute.[1]

He was invited to join the faculty of Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, then in New York City, where he taught from 1951 onwards.[1] When the seminary moved to its present campus in Crestwood, New York in 1962, Father Alexander assumed the post of dean, which he would hold until his death. He also served as adjunct professor at Columbia University, New York University, Union Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary in New York. Much of his focus at St Vladimir's was on liturgical theology, which emphasizes the liturgical tradition of the Church as a major sign and expression of the Christian faith.

Fr Schmemann was accorded the title of protopresbyter, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a married Orthodox priest.[1] He held honorary degrees from Butler University, General Theological Seminary, Lafayette College, Iona College, and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.

He was an Orthodox observer for the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church from 1962 to 1965.[1]

He was active in the establishment of the Orthodox Church in America and in its being granted autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970.

His Russian-language sermons were broadcast into the Soviet Union on Radio Liberty for 30 years.[1] He gained a broad following of listeners across the Soviet Union, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who became his friend after emigrating to the West.[1]

At the time of his death, he was the dean of the Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, a position he had held since 1962.[1] Schmemann died of cancer in 1983 in Crestwood, New York.[1]


Fr Schmemann published many books and articles. For the Life of the World, a popular volume on Christian faith as reflected in liturgy, has been translated into eleven languages. Originally prepared as study guide for the National Student Christian Federation in 1963, it even had an anonymous version published by the underground samizdat in the Soviet Union. The Eucharist was finished just before his death. This and several collections of his writings were published posthumously.

  • Introduction to Liturgical Theology (1961)
  • The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy (1963)
  • Great Lent: Journey to Pascha (1969; revised ed. 1974)
  • For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (1970)
  • Liturgy and Life: Christian Development Through Liturgical Experience (1974)
  • Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism (1974)
  • Ultimate Questions: An Anthology of Modern Russian Religious Thought (1977)
  • Church, World, Mission: Reflections on Orthodoxy in the West (1979)
  • The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (1988)
  • Celebration of Faith: I Believe... (1991)
  • Celebration of Faith: The Church Year (1994)
  • Celebration of Faith: The Virgin Mary (1995)
  • The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann 1973–1983 (2000)
  • Our Father Translated by Alexis Vinogradov (2001)
  • Liturgy and Tradition Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann Edited by Thomas Fisch (2003)
  • O Death, Where Is Thy Sting Translated by Alexis Vinogradov (2003)
  • The Liturgy of Death Edited by Alexis Vinogradov (2017)

It should be noted that Schmemann's work, including entire courses, are taught at theology schools. In 2018 the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Michael's College offered a course The Liturgical theology of Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983).

Further reading

  • Paul Garrett, 'Fr Alexander Schmemann: A Chronological Bibliography', in SVTQ; 28 (1984), p. 11-26
  • John Meyendorff, 'Postscript A Life Worth Living', in Liturgy and Tradition Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann (2003), p. 145-154
  • Brian A. Butcher, Andrew Louth, Liturgical Theology after Schmemann: An Orthodox Reading of Paul Ricoeur (New York, Fordham, 2018)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "REV. ALEXANDER SCHMEMANN, DEAN OF ORTHODOX SEMINARY". The New York Times. 14 December 1983. Retrieved 27 December 2015.

External links

Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate

The Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate (AWRV) is a Western rite vicariate of parishes and missions "that worship according to traditional Western Christian liturgical forms" within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.

Charismatic Episcopal Church

The Charismatic Episcopal Church, more officially known as the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC), is an international Christian denomination established as an autocephalous communion in 1992. The ICCEC states that it is not a splinter group of any other denomination or communion, but is a convergence of the sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic traditions that it perceives in the church from the apostolic era until present times.

The founders of the ICCEC drew inspiration from a diverse group of 20th century Christian church leaders and thinkers, particularly Alexander Schmemann (Orthodox, Russian diaspora), Lesslie Newbigin (Church of South India), Robert E. Webber (Anglican), Robert Jenson (Lutheran), and Thomas Oden (United Methodist); from the patristic fathers of the undivided Christian East and West; and from the doctrine and life of the early medieval priest-monks and bishops of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Gaul (represented by Caesarius of Arles, Columba of Iona, Aidan of Lindisfarne, Chad of Mercia, and Patrick), whom they saw as embodying a fatherly, sacramental, and Spirit-expectant leadership for their congregations.

The ICCEC's founding congregations were independent churches with roots in the Charismatic, Pentecostal, Wesleyan and Third Wave Evangelical movements. The ICCEC claims its apostolic succession via Timothy Michael Barker, the leader of the International Free Catholic Communion and the Rebiban line via the schismatic Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa, who founded the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Brazil.

The Charismatic Episcopal Church believes orthodoxy and orthopraxy to be the essence of the apostolic faith of the New Testament Church and holds the ancient Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as their official doctrinal statements. The ICCEC is not, nor has it ever been, affiliated with the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). The word episcopal is used to describe its hierarchy of bishops (see table). Many churches in the ICCEC, however, claim an Anglican identity and many use the American Book of Common Prayer (1979). A new sacramentary, now in broad trial use, contains modified Roman, Anglican, and Eastern rites.

Pentecostal scholar H. Vinson Synan reports that the ICCEC is the first church emerging from the Pentecostal-Charismatic revivals of the last century to use the term "Charismatic" in its official name.

Evangelical Orthodox Church

The Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC), founded in 1979, is a small Christian syncretic denomination established by former leaders of Campus Crusade for Christ, who, reacting against the freewheeling Jesus People movement, developed their own synthesis of Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Shepherding Movement principles.

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Kontinent was an émigré dissident journal which focused on the politics of the Soviet Union and its satellites. Founded in 1974 by writer Vladimir Maximov, its first editor-in-chief, it was published in German and Russian and later translated into English. A Norwegian edition, Kontinent Skandinavia, was published from 1979 to 1981.

Its Editorial Board included Raymond Aron, George Bailey, Saul Bellow, Józef Czapski, Robert Conquest, Milovan Djilas, Alexander Galich, Jerzy Giedroyc, Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, Eugène Ionesco, Arthur Koestler, Naum Korzhavin, Mihajlo Mihajlov, Ludek Pachman, Alexander Sakharov, Alexander Schmemann, Zïnaida Schakovskoy, Wolf Siedler, Ignazio Silone, Strannik, and Carl-Gustav Ströhm.

This initial issue featured a debate between Andrei Sakharov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn regarding Solzhenitsyn's Letter to the Soviet Leaders.

List of Eastern Orthodox writers in North America

American Orthodox writers

Scott Cairns

Andrew Stephen Damick

Georges Florovsky

Thomas Hopko

Hans Jacobse

Frederica Mathewes-Green

John Meyendorff

Jaroslav Pelikan

Patrick Henry Reardon

Seraphim Rose

Nicholas Samaras

Alexander Schmemann

Frank Schaeffer

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List of Russian philosophers

Russian philosophy includes a variety of philosophical movements. Authors who developed them are listed below sorted by movement.

While most authors listed below are primarily philosophers, also included here are some Russian fiction writers, such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, who are also known as philosophers.

Russian philosophy as a separate entity started its development in the 19th century, defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating Russia's following the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as a unique civilization. The latter group included Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the early founders of eurasianism. The discussion of Russia's place in the world has since become the most characteristic feature of Russian philosophy.

In its further development, Russian philosophy was also marked by deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, politics and nationalism; cosmos and religion were other notable subjects.

Notable philosophers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyev, Vasily Rozanov, Lev Shestov, Leo Tolstoy, Sergei Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, Nikolai Berdyaev, Pitirim Sorokin, and Vladimir Vernadsky.

From the early 1920s to late 1980s, Russian philosophy was dominated by Marxism presented as dogma and not grounds for discussion. Stalin's purges, culminating in 1937, delivered a deadly blow to the development of philosophy.A handful of dissident philosophers survived through the Soviet period, among them Aleksei Losev. Stalin's death in 1953 gave way for new schools of thought to spring up, among them Moscow Logic Circle, and Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School.


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The term Reformed Orthodoxy is given to an attempted Protestant Reformation of the Orthodox Christian beliefs and practices of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches. Presently the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India, the Believers Eastern Church, the Evangelical Baptist Union of Georgia, Society for Eastern Rite Anglicanism, Evangelical Orthodox Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, and the Assyrian Pentecostal Church are revised according to Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal Protestant reforms, respectively.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

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Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) is an Orthodox Christian seminary in Crestwood, Yonkers, New York, in the United States. Although it is under the omophorion of the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, it is a pan-Orthodox institution, providing theological education to students from different Orthodox jurisdictions worldwide.

The seminary is also the location of St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) Press.


Schmemann can refer to :

Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), Orthodox Christian priest, teacher, and writer

Serge Schmemann (born 1945), editor for New York Times

Serge Schmemann

Serge Schmemann (born April 12, 1945) is a writer and editorial page editor of the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times. Earlier in his career, he worked for the Associated Press and was a bureau chief and editor for the New York Times.

St. Dionysius Institute in Paris

St. Dionysius Theological Institute (St. Denys Theological Institute) is an Orthodox Christian theological institute in Paris, France. The institute functions under the auspices of the Orthodox Church of France, which is independent of the autocephalous Orthodox churches.

St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute

The St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute (French: Institut de théologie orthodoxe Saint-Serge) in Paris, France, is a private school of higher education in Orthodox theology, founded in 1925 in conformity with French legislation and the norms of European university education, accredited by the Académie de Paris. The mission of the St. Sergius Institute is to form educated priests and laypeople, intending to serve actively the Orthodox Church and representing it in the ecumenical dialogue, as well as in the religious and cultural life of their own country. It is under the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Thomas Hopko

Thomas John Hopko (March 28, 1939 – March 18, 2015) was an Eastern Orthodox Christian priest and theologian. He was the Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary from September 1992 until July 1, 2002 and taught dogmatic theology there from 1968 until 2002. In retirement, he carried the honorary title of Dean Emeritus.

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In addition, the Western Rite is practiced within religious communities outside the main Eastern Orthodox Church. The Communion of Western Orthodox Churches and the Orthodox Church of France are entirely Western Rite. Furthermore, there is a small number of Western Rite communities among the Old Calendarists, such as the former Western Rite Exarchate of the Holy Synod of Milan and the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles. In the past, there have also been Western Rite communities within Oriental Orthodoxy.

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