P. N. Miliukov on Molokans and Judaizers

By P. N. Miliukov 1942 (1,2,3)
Edited in red font by Andrei Conovaloff, last updated July 2017.

The sect of Uklein received the name Molokans from the Orthodox: "those who drink milk during fasts." "Milk-eaters" embraced the nickname by referring to "milk" as in 1 Peter 2:2.

The rapid spread of Molokan beliefs shows that this doctrine was easier for Russian people than the theories of the Dukhobors. But we have to add that this spreading was achieved by one more compromise, and this compromise caused a schism among the Molokans. As we said before, among the first followers of Uklein were many people who had evangelic doctrines in the form of "judaizers" (zhudovstva). (4,5)

Especially numerous were judaizers in the Saratov region were this unorganized sect had its own leader/preceptor (наставник nastavnik), Semion Dalmatov.(6) Here Uklein met a strong competitor. In order to attract him (Dalmatov) on his side, Uklein had to compromise, which was opposite to the spirit of his own doctrine. The question was about prohibited food. "For clean people, everything is clean," say Spiritual Christians from Feodosi Kasoi to Skovoroda.(7)  "You cannot defile what enters your mouth," etc. This was one of the arguments of the sectarians against food limitations during fasts. But what could one do when judaizers emphatically rejected food prohibited by Moses (Mosaic Law). They could give up circumcision, and the unity of the Lord-Father (accept the Trinity concept), but how could they allow themselves to eat pork. And Uklein had to concede that point to Dolmatov.

In Uklein's book of rituals
(obriadnik)(7), next to the spiritual interpretation of the sacraments was written a veto against eating pork and scale-less fish. Of course, this concession caused immediate protest among the original (core) Molokans. Sunday-Molokans (Uklein's Voskresniki (evangelicals)) separated from Saturday-Molokans (Dalmatov's Subbotniki (ritualists)), their Jewish co-religionists.

To the question about food was added a question about forms of prayer and rituals.(8) More constant adherents of evangelism denied the ritual side of faith. On the other hand, those weaker in faith and less intelligent cling to that side (rituals). That's why, evangelical Christianity, by adopting to this environment (of compromise), was returning step by step back to the ritual piety."


  1. Translated from: Miliukov, P.N., Ocherki po istorii russkoi kul'tury (Essays of the history of Russian culture). Volume 2 of 3. Moscow. Reprinted 1994. Pages 126-127. Original published in 1942. Warning, some western Dukh-i-zhiznik preceptors reject anything, and everything, published in Russia during Soviet times, including the above section.

  2. Pavel Milyukov, Wikipedia.

  3. Milyukov, Pavel Nikolayevich, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001-07.
  4. Judaizer: Christians who emulated, or copied, Jews. In several Jewish encyclopedias, "Molokans" and "Jumpers" can be found under the heading "Judaizer" or "judaizing heresy" ("Until the arrival of Christ the laws of Moses should be strictly followed ... they condemned images ... censured monasticism. ...called in the Russian official documents ... 'Sabbatarians,' ... the sect of the Molokans derived its origin from the Judaizers."). American Evangelical Christians are now scorning and debating judaizers. The original Uklein/Dalmatov schism separated Molokans into Sunday Molokans and Saturday Molokans. Today the schism in America is a debate about the relevance of ritualistic deeds (language, costumes, ceremonies) compared to faith (evangelical teaching), resulting in many having left their Spiritual Christian heritage faiths while others have enhanced rituals beyond what they inherited. For a field report on the Judaic and Sabbatarians in the F.S.U., see Expedition to Azerbaijan in June 1997.

  5. Judaizers, Wikipedia.

  6. Probably the father of the martyred leader Matvei Semionovich Dalmatov (Volkoff, J.W. tr; Shubin D.H. ed. Spirit and Life: Book of the Sun, 1983, pages 23-24, 37, 54, 62.). Also see: Judaizer (Enclyclopedia Judica) which states that "Molokan Sabbath Observers" (Subbotniki) were created and split from Molokans due to Uklein introducing  many Jewish customs, and his disciple Sundukov calling for greater association with Jews. Miliukov adds Uklein compromised with and invited the Saratov judaizers to join the Molokans, and this resulted in Uklein's Sunday-Molokans later separating from Dalmatov's Saturday-Molokans.

  7. A Russian idiom meaning that "all Spiritual Christians say this." Examples in English: from A to Z; the alpha and the omega; from soup to nuts.

  8. This is rare evidence that Uklein's book of rituals existed. Miliukov must have examined it in the 1940s.

  9. Milyukov concludes that disputes about "food...  forms of prayer and rituals" caused Spiritual Christians to divide into many faiths and sub-faiths; and "... those weaker in faith and less intelligent ..." preferred older rituals to change.  

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