The Archbishop: A Novel By Hieromonk Tihon

An excellent book.

It is not a typical literary novel. It is a Christian (Orthodox Church) apologetic work presented in the novel form. The novel is full of theological and spiritual reflections. In many places, it reads like a theological treatise treating the themes of Grace, Redemption/Salvation, Sin, Heaven and Hell, Religion vs Reason, Jesus, etc. To me, a Catholic priest, this book seemed a Pastoral Guide in a summerized form.

This book was recommended and gifted by my good friend Cathy. It is a wonderful gift. I will always treasure this one. Thanks. The Archbishop: A Novel Given the current world-wide clergy crisis in the Catholic Church, and hearkening back to simpler times and across the world to our brothers-in-Christ, the Orthodox, this book intrigued me. As I read the book’s description, I wondered if it would offer any novel, as in new, approaches to what makes a good shepherd than what we have/do. That, plus, fiction usually offers answers with less preaching.

I was not disappointed. This is no ordinary Archbishop. This is a true Shepherd, a man who leads and encourages his careworn priests; feeds and nurtures the poverty-stricken flock under them, serving one and all.

Have you ever met such an Archbishop or Bishop? I’m sure they are there, but I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing one. I’ve known bishops and archbishops who are wonderful homilists; superb manager-administrators; excellent liturgists; knowledgeable on canon law and church tradition; even fine leaders who are ‘good with people’; very devout and conscientious, dedicated, etc. But even all these things together do not make a shepherd. The most perfect man at the top does not instill or engender the love of his flock. People don’t love qualities in others, even perfection. They might admire them, but they don’t inspire love. We love someone who loves us, a person who genuinely knows us, cares about who we are and what we most desperately need.

That is who this Vladika is and what he does right from the start. His actions and the impact they have on his priests and people are the gist of the story. Inspirational, unforgettable and transformational. Although I do not know any bishops or archbishops like him, I do know priests of this caliber. Does this sort of man never get selected for the greater responsibility of a larger flock in the first place or does promotion change him? Is it too much responsibility for any one man in this modern world? Could it be our areas (dioceses) need to be much much smaller? It is something I ponder.

Some quotes I liked below:

• You must endure the burden by praying harder to God! The prayer strengthens the man and freshens his mind. And a fresh and powerful man will always find a way out no matter the situation.

• Tough times await the faithful sons of the Church, its shepherds and its archbishops. It is not the time now to think about vain glory but the time for archbishops to take off their golden miter – the symbol of the glory of Christ–and instead put on crowns of thorns; for today, the Name of God is more blasphemed than it is worshiped!

• People don’t abandon Christianity because it feels cheap to them, or they’ve found another superior religion to practice. The reason is that they are disappointed by its truthfulness. (This reminded me of a similar quote by G.K. Chesterton!) Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

• Priests? Oh, how little I fancy all these fair and clean little priests, with their carefully-ironed skufias², with all their crosses and long service decorations, who strictly obey all regulations and prescriptions! They are the most dangerous enemies of Christianity. Priesthood is an art.

• Man values only what he makes with his own hands. What is easily received and with no labor cannot be cherished.

• “Well, faith is when you say let me give you a small icon for the road, and religion, in honor of such thing or in memory of such event, a shrine has been arranged in such place… Just think about it; why were icons representing the same saint hanged in all the train stations and state institutions at some point in time? Find the answer to this question and you’ll discover the difference between religion and faith…”

• “What a pity… they have clothed the living work of Christ, to Satan’s delight, in protocols, documents, and journals. They flooded the Episcopal chanceries with paperwork, distracting bishops from their real mission. Sadly, they succeeded, for bishops no longer have time to work among their flock...

Also I learned that raskol means a schism or a faction. Raskolnikov is the name of the famous character in Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment, and derives from the Russian raskolnic. The raskolnic is a divisive, revolting person. Is this where our word, rascal comes from?

Highly recommended!

¹Diminutive term used in the Russian Church by priests and believers for their archbishops.

²An item of clerical clothing worn by Orthodox Christian monastics (black) or clergy, sometimes specifically awarded as a mark of honor (red or purple). For Russians, it is a soft-sided brimless cap whose top may be pointed. The Archbishop: A Novel The heart of the matter

This a portrait of a true shepherd of the flock of God, one who faces the dark realities of existence in this world, and points the Way to the Kingdom, a Way achieved by God's grace. And in this narrative, the poor and despised most readily respond. Though fictitious, the story shows the true path to victory over Death in in process. Inspirational! The Archbishop: A Novel Clearly an overrated novel, no story, no clear plots, shallow characters, and some chapters are useless to the progress of events.

It is a novel made to provide Orthodox apologetics in long monologue quotes, and these lengthy monologues are very weak apologetics discourses.

The archbishop tried to resolve the problem of evil, but he clearly failed, and you find the priest always gets amazed by these very weak words; to give you an impression that Archbishop's words are more than great!

There are a couple of good discussions, for instance the view/definition of evil, and the view/definition of hell. But overall, it is not a good novel, very overrated, and very preaching as one-way monologue in its style. Not worth reading. The Archbishop: A Novel Page turner

It is probably unusual to term novel of this type and age a page Turner, but that is exactly what it was. Though a novel of average length, it seems I finished it too soon after it was started. Surprisingly timely and relevant.

Will be thinking about its proposals long afterward.
The Archbishop: A Novel


If God exists, then why does He allow such endlessly mundane earthly suffering?

Imperial Russia, 1900: Resigned, hopeless, and fighting a Church he no longer believes in, Father Paul’s crisis of faith and despair in the seeming futility of his chosen vocation opens up the powerful and emotionally engaging story of The Archbishop.

Rather than abandoning his parish in search of the truth, Father Paul’s quest is a simple one: to find the true essence of Christianity.

A Modern Day Apostle to the Downtrodden

Set against the backdrop of a harsh and cold Russian countryside along the River Volga, with its unyielding poverty and hardships, The Archbishop follows Father Paul as he searches to understand God and the parlous state of the world around him.

It is not until he meets the eponymous Archbishop that he finds revelations that do more than just answer his soul-searching questions. More than this, he finds a true shepherd determined to spread a more authentic message of Christ to the people who follow him.

But even the divine truth that Father Paul finally finds in this dreary, cold hamlet where religion seems to be fading from relevance is not free from earthly machinations. Although he discovers something that will change his life forever, the realities of the world around him remain unyielding and unchanging.

The Archbishop is a book that does not shy away from asking big questions – nor from answering them. Author Hieromonk Tihon’s identity has long since been lost to history and his fate unknown, but the vivid characters and intricately drawn world created in this book have indicated that The Archbishop may be an autobiographical work.

Condemned, burned, and banned by iconoclastic Bolsheviks during the earliest years of Soviet Russia as it pushed an agenda of militant atheism, The Archbishop's spiritual guidance was almost lost among countless other Eastern Orthodox works.

The Archbishop provides deep spiritual insight and guidance into a world distant from ours, despite the chasms of difference in culture, time, and space. Sometimes funny, often tragic, and other times angering, this hidden Orthodox gem does not shy away from asking big questions – nor from answering them. It remains a work full of spiritual lessons that will resonate profoundly with the modern-day American Orthodox clergy and their laity.

The Archbishop: A Novel


This translation produced such tortured English that I couldn't take it any longer. I got through Chapter 4, and turned it back in to Kindle Unlimited. At least I didn't pay for it!

I trust that the story, in the original, is profound, and revelatory. At least some others have thought so. The Archbishop: A Novel This was an interesting little book on how a holy man can change so many lives by showing others how to live as Christ. The book was written by a Russian monk before the Bolshevik revolution and was censored for some time. I sadly believe that the lukewarmness towards the Lord and His teachings is just as present in the world of today as it was 100 years ago. May a wake up call come to us as it did to those in this book. The Archbishop: A Novel A very profound message in the story of the Archbishop that was prevalent in the early 20th century and even more prevalent in today’s day and age. The world needs true shepherds like the archbishop who bring truth and love, the Gospel essentially, to all who come in contact with them. The world needs true examples like him. The Archbishop: A Novel The Archbishop is the tale of an Orthodox Archbishop. An excellent tale at that!

From reading the book, one can scarcely discern the era in which the story takes place. One century ago, or four, it is not really clear. This lends the story a timelessness, which is good because the story holds timeless truths. Many of the criticisms put forth by the author are still true of many churches today.

The story is translated from Russian. For the most part, the story is well translated. On occasion the reader will find an oddity in the text, but this is due to the translation. The text flows well and is very readable. In one section there is an extended monologue, too extended for my taste. Otherwise, the author writes some good conversations about authentic Christianity.

Most of the theology presented in the book is not unique to the Orthodox church. Some of it is though. That being the case, I don't agree with all the theological underpinnings of the book. Nonetheless, the call for a return to the Way of Christ, to authenticity, rings true for most churches.

Give The Archbishop a try! The Archbishop: A Novel Fine message, but not a novel

I don't necessarily disagree with the message put forth here, but this was not a novel as much as a thinly veiled excuse for the author to put forth a series of essays from the mouth of a (fictional) Archbishop. Fair enough, but it felt like a way to lend his words more credence than they were due on their own. If this were his blog, I would have skipped over it, but I stuck it out for my hope that there was actually going to be a story here. There wasn't. The Archbishop: A Novel

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