Maksim Grek’s Writings against the Jews in His Codices




Maksim Grek, Samuel of Morocco, Isak Sobaka, 16th-century journalism, Jewish teaching, author’s codices, heretics, preaching of Orthodoxy


The handwritten heritage of Maksim Grek contains three epistles contending the Jewish teaching. They do not constitute a series and occupy different positions in the codices of the author’s intra vitam writings. Based on them, Russian scholars have long developed a concept of the active participation of Maksim Grek in fighting the heresy of the Judaizers, which is disproved by the modern studies of the publicist’s works. The study aims to determine the role of the anti-Jewish writings of the Wise Man from the Mount of Athos in forming the author’s codices. Two works occupy the position of concluding chapters of the codices. The polemic Writings Contending Samuel the Jew have signs of a text closely related to another one. There is neither an introduction nor a conclusion, the statements are brief, and the system of an internal organisation into rubrics is unclear. The text is to be perceived in the context of the source, i. e. The Epistle of Rabbi Samuel of Morocco. A similar text architectonics is observed in the Epistle to a Certain Man who became interested in Lucidarius. Words against Samuel Israeli was written in the late 1540s in Tver Otroch Monastery as a reaction to the request of a certain Georgy to comment on The Epistle of Rabbi Samuel of Morocco. The essay was attached, maybe by one of the scholars, as chapter 73 to the Khludov Сollection, written in the early 1550s in St Trinity Monastery. The Advice to the Orthodox Congress on Isak the Jew, a Magician, Sorcerer, and Cheat proved intriguing. Its title does not match the content, nor is it possible to determine which congress is meant and who Isak the Jew was. We cannot agree with the assumption that Isak Sobaka was the main character. The author emphasises the intertext ties between The Advice to the Orthodox Congress and the 1554 message of Ivan IV to Maksim Grek. The main idea of The Advice to the Orthodox Congress to execute heretics could not have been authored by Maksim Grek. The Advice occupies the place of one of the last chapters (Chapter 45) of the Joasaphus Collection and may be inauthentic. The Word on the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, also against the Jews (Chapter 5 of the Joasaphus Collection) is an example of a solemn speech by an Orthodox preacher written in the late 1530s – early 1540s and should be regarded as a programmatic work by Maksim Grek contending the Jewish teaching. The main goal of the ecclesiastical publicist is to prove the divine nature of Christ and to accuse the Jews of His death. The dispersion of the three compositions in the systematised codices indicates different times of their creation, varying intentions, and diverse implementations of the author’s concepts.

Author Biography

Liudmila Zhurova

Dr. Hab. (Philology), Chief Researcher, Institute of History, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

8, Nikolayev Str, 630090, Novosibirsk, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-6796-0896


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How to Cite

Zhurova, L. (2022). Maksim Grek’s Writings against the Jews in His Codices. Quaestio Rossica, 10(4), 1362–1376.



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