Radical Protestant Christianity became widespread in rural parts of southern Russia and Ukraine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Russia’s Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830–1917 studies the origins and evolution of the theology and practices of these radicals and their contribution to an alternative culture in the region.

Arising from a confluence of immigrant Anabaptists from central Europe and native Russian religious dissident movements, the new sects shared characteristics with both their antecedents in Europe and their contemporaries in the Shaker and Quaker movements on the American frontier. The radicals’ lives showed energy and initiative reminiscent of Max Weber’s famous paradigm in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. And women participated in congregations no less than men and often led them.

The radicals criticized the existing social and political order, created their own educational system, and in some cases engaged in radical politics. Their contributions, argues Zhuk, help explain the receptiveness of peasants in this region to the revolutions of 1905 and 1917.

Sergei I. Zhuk is an assistant professor of history at Ball State University. Formerly a professor of American history specializing in American religious movements at Dnieperpetrovsk University in Ukraine, he recently completed a Ph.D. in Russian history at the Johns Hopkins University. Zhuk’s work has been published in English, French, Russian, and Ukrainian.


List of Figures
Map of the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire


Introduction: The Forgotten Pioneers of Radical Evangelicalism in Russia—Historiography, Theory, and Sources

1. Colonialization, Emancipation, and Religious Radicalism

2. The Shalaputs

3. The Stundists

4. Peasant Theologians and the Protestant Ethic

5. The Stundo-Shalaputs, or the Maliovantsy

6. Orthodox Peasants No More

7. The Religious Radicals’ Rebellion Epilogue From Christian Millennium to Bolshevik Utopia

Appendix A: Population of Southern Russian and Ukrainian Provinces, 1861–1900, according to the Governors’ Reports
Appendix B: Sects in the Southern European Provinces of the Russian Empire, according to the Census of 1897
Appendix C: The Registered Sects in the Southern European Provinces of the Russian Empire, according to the Census of 1909–10

Selected Bibliography


“Extremely well-written work that contributes to a neglected aspect of Russian religious history. Zhuk displays a clear mastery of the material and presents the details of the reformation without losing the thread of the narrative.”—Lee Trepanier, Religion and Politics Newsletter

“A valuable book on radical Protestantism in rural Russia and Ukraine… provocatively shows how Christian radicalism prepared the peasantry to accept and approve the revolution.”—Choice

“A vivid study of Protestant sectarianism in the multiethnic regions of southern Russia and Ukraine.”—American Historical Review

“This is a study that not only makes a very important contribution to Russian religious, cultural, and social history, but will stimulate controversy about Russia’s place in world history.”—Glennys Young, University of Washington

“Stimulating study.… For anyone interested in gaining a sense of the religious ferment in Ukraine where Mennonites were centered and Mennonite Brethren had their beginning.”—Harold Jantz, Mennonite Brethren Herald

“A very valuable contribution to Russian and especially Ukrainian religious history.”—Michael Rowe, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

“This study will help to open the way for further research and cooperation between Russian, Ukrainian and Mennonite scholars.”—James Urry, Mennonite Quarterly Review

“Zhuk displays a clear understanding of the ethos of peasant life as he explores the ethnic and demographic situation.”—Canadian Slavonic Papers

“Zhuk offers a bold vision of religious movements that grew out of and never strayed very far from the dominant Orthodox creed.”—Revolutionary Russia

“Through exhaustive archival research and wonderfully chosen photographs, Zhuk has succeed in bringing back to life forgotten sectarians and their complicated relation with Orthodox Christianity.”—Nadieszda Kizenko, Journal of Modern History

“Adds to the growing body of work that shows how large, variegated, and peculiar these people were.”—Alexander Etkind, Church History

“Readers will find Zhuk’s interpretation of south Russian or Ukrainian peasant culture to be worth consideration and his careful description of popular beliefs and religious syncretism of compelling interest.”—Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“A thickly detailed study of religious radicalism in the southern Russian Empire from 1830 to 1914.”—Brian P. Bennett, History of Religions