Shaping of religious studies in Russia could be traced back to the eighteenth century, and was connected with new conceptions of the role and place of humanitarian knowledge, in general. It was not separated from the appearance and evolution of ethnography, linguistic, and folkloristic – they supported the interest to religious ideas and beliefs of the peoples populating the Russian Empire.
But religious studies, as an independent research discipline, have been shaped in Russia by the early twentieth century only. Evolution of historical studies and, first of all, classical and oriental studies, medievalism, and history of Modernity, laid the foundation for the history of religion. Evolution of folkloristic and ethnography, longing to go from description of collected material to its systematization and interpretation was determined with new theories based on ideas of evolutionism, positivism, and anthropological approach to religious beliefs and cult.
In the early twentieth century, in Russia, there was two trends in religious studies: one was connected with the tradition to consider religion exclusively in the confessional frames and on the base of canonic texts of the Holy Scripture and Fathers of the Church; the second one used methods of critical analysis and developed in the same direction as the European disciplines.
In the frames of the research project of the Russian Research Foundation 16-18-10083 ‘Studying Religion in the Social and Cultural Context of the Epoch: the History of Religious Studies and Intellectual History of Russia of the Nineteenth — the First Half of the Twentieth Centuries’, the group of authors made an attempt to present the most outstanding scholars of the both trends, studying religion in Russia in the eighteen — the first half of the twentieth centuries, and their most significant works.
It is supposed, that the online resource will be completed; at the moment it tells about 300 scholars working in the field of religious studies, who were born before 1917.
Participants of the project: articles — А. D. Belova, D. А. Bratkin, Т. V. Chumakova, V. V. Emeliyanov, V. V. Khorina, А. I. Matochkina, Е. А. Teriukova, М. М. Shakhnovich, D. I. Weber; photo selection — Е. S. Kizyma; technical support — A. V. Maltsev.