Mihael Kobrin

Mihael Kobrin

Ukrainian Orthodox theologian.
Date of Birth: 02.09.1871
Country: Ukraine

  1. Biography of Mikhail Kobrin
  2. Contributions and Activities

Biography of Mikhail Kobrin

Mikhail Petrovich Kobrin was a Ukrainian Orthodox theologian, church and public figure, schismatic expert, expert in ancient languages, translator of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical texts into Ukrainian. He was born on October 21 (November 2 according to the new style) 1871, in a peasant family in the Krasnostavsky district of the Lublin Voivodeship. After completing primary school, he received secondary education at the Kholskaya Theological Seminary, and in 1893 he entered the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA), which he graduated from in 1897 with a master's degree. The Academic Council of the Academy awarded M.P. Kobrin the degree of Master of Theology for his work "The Day of Atonement in the Old Testament." The minutes of the MDA Council for 1900 noted that Mikhail Petrovich's work was the only monograph on this topic in Russian biblical literature, which represented a deep biblical archaeological study of the history of the Jewish people. Upon returning to his homeland, Kobrin married Alexandra Gershtanskaya in 1897, who came from a well-known priestly family in Kholschina. Mikhail and Alexandra Kobrin had seven children. After a two-year wait, Mikhail Kobrin was appointed a teacher at the Kholskaya Theological Seminary "in the Department of History and Condemnation of Schism and Condemnatory Theology." Kobrin worked in this position until the evacuation of the seminary to Moscow in 1915 due to the start of the First World War. His main focus during this pre-war period was the condemnation of "so-called Uniate stubbornness, due to the large number of Uniates unwilling to accept Orthodoxy." Mikhail Kobrin developed a special teaching program on the history of Catholicism and the Union in Western Russia, writing several articles of theological-historical content, including the articles "The Untruth of the Catholic Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God" and "The Life of Peasants in Captivity and Freedom."

Contributions and Activities

In the early years of his teaching career, Kobrin published the following works: "A Brief Historical Sketch of the Colonization of the Western Russian Region and Its Consequences for Kholskaya Rus" (Warsaw, 1902) and "Orthodox-Russian Mission in Kholskaya Rus" (1904). In 1907, when the "People's Enlightenment Society of Kholskaya Rus" was founded, Mikhail Kobrin was elected its chairman. The goal of the society was to educate the rural population in Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish languages. The society published the weekly newspaper "Bratskaya Beseda." This Russian-Ukrainian publication featured works by Ukrainian writers (Panteleimon Kulish, Taras Shevchenko, Vladimir Ostrovsky, etc.).

In 1909, with the support of the society, the "Map of the Russian and Orthodox Population of Kholskaya Rus" by Professor Franzev and "Essays on Kholschina and Podlesia" by Vaska Tkach (teacher Vasily Ostapchuk) were published. In the same year, a series of brochures "Folk Songs of Kholskaya Rus" was started. Mikhail Petrovich Kobrin was a member of the delegation to the State Duma representing the Ukrainian population of Kholschina. The delegation proposed the separation of the ethnic Western Russian lands from Poland and the creation of the Kholskaya province based on them within the Russian Empire. Two years later, on June 23, 1912, with the active support of Bishop Eulogius (Georgievsky), the Bishop of Kholskaya and Lublin, a member of the Third State Duma, the law on the formation of the Kholskaya province with its exclusion from the control of the Warsaw Governor-General was approved.

With the energetic support of Bishop Eulogius and generous donations from his personal funds, the "Kholskaya Mutual Credit Agricultural Society" was founded to preserve and strengthen the impoverished farms of Ukrainian peasants by providing them with credit to purchase land on favorable terms. At the beginning of the First World War, the "Mutual Credit Society" suspended its activities due to the evacuation of the civilian population and organizations to the depths of the Russian Empire. Under the supervision of Kobrin, the property and documentation of the society were transported to Moscow and stored in the "Siberian Bank."

After the signing of the Riga Treaty in 1921, the property of the society was transferred to the Russian-Polish commission for re-evacuation. The Polish government delayed the return of the property and only did so in 1927 when the period for resuming the society's work had already expired. Manipulating legislation, the Polish authorities liquidated the society. However, the liquidation commission expressed gratitude to Mikhail Kobrin for preserving the property. According to the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921, the western part of Belarusian and Ukrainian lands was excluded from Kholschina and annexed to the revived Polish state. The Polish government soon began a policy of national oppression, closing Ukrainian schools, converting Orthodox churches to Catholicism, closing "Prosvita" societies, libraries, and imposing various obstacles to the economic and cultural development of the non-Polish population.

The Polish government transferred the Kholskaya Theological Seminary to the town of Kremenets. In 1922, Kobrin returned with his wife and younger children from Moscow to Kholsk and moved to Kremenets in the same year to continue his teaching activities at the Kremenets Theological Seminary, where he worked until his retirement in 1931. Here, he taught the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, comparative and dogmatic theology, and philosophy. Mikhail Petrovich combined teaching with the work of translating church-theological books into Ukrainian, as the proclamation of the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1925 necessitated Ukrainian liturgical editions.

Fluently speaking three ancient languages - Hebrew, Greek, and Latin - Mikhail Petrovich began translating the books of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books into Ukrainian. During his years in Kremenets, he managed to translate and publish the following liturgical books:
1. Apostle. The Theological Section of the Metropolitan Peter Mohyla Society, Lutsk, 1941.
2. Small Octoechos. With the support of Archbishop of Volyn and Kremenets Alexiy, Lutsk, 1938.
3. Horologion. The Theological Section of the Metropolitan Peter Mohyla Society, Lutsk, 1941.
4. Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. Ukrainian Scientific Institute, Warsaw, series of translations of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books, vol. LII, book 3, 1939.
5. Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts of St. Gregory the Dialogist. Same publication.
6. Psalter (translation from the Septuagint). Ukrainian Scientific Institute, Warsaw, series of translations of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books, vol. XXXVIII, book 2, Lutsk, 1941.

However, the introduction of the Ukrainian language into church worship was not universally accepted by the Orthodox clergy, especially the Russian emigration. However, "according to the 1931 census, over 1 million Orthodox considered Ukrainian their native language, almost 1 million - Belarusian, half a million - Polish, 100,000 - Russian, almost 22,000 - Czech. Thus, by national composition, the Orthodox were divided into several unequal groups, among which the dominant group was the Ukrainian and Belarusian native population, predominantly peasants; Russians were represented not so much by the old-established urban population as by emigrants who left Russia as a result of the revolution and the civil war. Russians were often self-identified by representatives of the local Orthodox intelligentsia, including priests."

To discuss the issue of Ukrainization of worship, in 1927 almost simultaneously, meetings of clergy and laity were held in Lutsk and Pochayiv. Only laypeople attended the congress in Lutsk, as the head of the Polish Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Dionysius (Valadynsky), forbade the clergy from participating. Both clergy and laity gathered in Pochayiv. The congress in Lutsk supported the Ukrainization of the Church, while the eparchial assembly in Pochayiv made a decision that the liturgical language in Polish Orthodox churches could only be Church Slavonic and demanded that the Synod prohibit the Ukrainization of the Church. Metropolitan Dionysius condemned the decision of the eparchial assembly in Pochayiv as contradicting the decisions of the Synod of July 16, 1922, and September 3, 1924, regarding the use of the Ukrainian language in worship and church life. The Synod did not approve the decisions of the eparchial assembly in Pochayiv.

This question was finally resolved in 1930 at the pre-council meeting of the Polish Orthodox Church in Warsaw. As the secretary of the presidium of this meeting, Kobrin delivered a report entitled "On the Language of Worship," in which he remarked, "All objections to the alleged vulgarity of Ukrainian worship are expressed either in connection with ignorance or unaccustomedness to Ukrainian worship or out of hatred for the Ukrainian language. The latter objection has a political character..."

The fifth commission of the pre-council meeting proposed a project that defined the conditions for the introduction of the Ukrainian language into worship based on translations approved by the Synod. In 1931, a permanent commission was formed during the Synod of the Orthodox Church in Poland, which edited the translations of liturgical books, as well as books of religious, philosophical, and church-historical content. In 1931, a subcommittee of the Warsaw Commission was formed in Kremenets, with Mikhail Petrovich Kobrin appointed as its chairman. A similar subcommittee was formed in 1933 in Lutsk under the Metropolitan Peter Mohyla Scientific Society. The subcommittees proofread and corrected the translated texts, while the Warsaw Commission edited, approved, and sent these texts for printing.

During this time, Mikhail Petrovich published the following works:
1. "On the Language of Worship." Publisher "Ukrainska Niva", Lutsk, 1935.
2. "The Existence of God in the World." Volyn Diocesan Missionary Committee, Kremenets, 1938.
3. "On Sacred Tradition." Same publication.
4. "On the Holy Scripture or Bible." Same publication.

Kobrin became one of the prominent figures in the Ukrainization of the Polish Orthodox Church, which eventually led to a confrontation with the Polish government.