Alexander Men

Father Alexander Vladimirovich Men (Александр Владимирович Мень; 20 January 1935 - 9 September 1990, also known as Aleksandr Men) was a Russian Orthodox theologian, Biblical scholar and writer. Father Alexander wrote dozen of books (including his magnum opus Son of Man, which served as the introduction to Christ to thousands of citizens in the Soviet Union); baptized hundreds if not thousands; founded an Orthodox Open University; opened one of the first Sunday Schools in Russia as well as a Charity Group at the Russian Children's Hospital. His influence is still widely felt and his legacy continues to grow among Christians both in Russia and abroad. He was murdered early on Sunday morning, 9 September 1990 by an ax-wielding assailant just outside his home of Semkhoz, Russia.


Men was born in Moscow to a Jewish family. He was baptized at seven months along with his mother in the banned Catacomb Church, a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church that refused to cooperate with the Soviet authorities. Men was expelled from college in 1958 due to his religious beliefs, and in 1960 was ordained a priest upon graduating from the Leningrad Theological Seminary.

Men trained as a priest, and became a leader with considerable influence and a good reputation among Christians both locally and abroad, among Roman Catholics and Protestants, as well as Orthodox. Starting in the early 1970s, Men became a popular figure in Russia's religious community, especially among the intelligentsia. Men was harassed by the KGB for his active missionary and evangelistic efforts. In the late-1980s, he utilised the mass media to spread the message of Christ (he was offered to host a nationally televised program on religion); his days and nights were full of teaching and lecturing at packed lecture halls. Men was one of the founders of the Russian Bible Society in 1990; that same year he founded the Open Orthodox University and "The World of the Bible" journal. His strenuous efforts in educating the Russian populace in the basics and dynamics of the Orthodox faith has garnered him the label as a modern day apostle to the Soviet people, who were benighted by seventy years of Communist atheistic rule.

On Sunday morning September 9, 1990, he was assassinated while walking along the wooded path from his home in the Russian village of Semkhoz to the local train platform. He was on his way to catch the train to Novaya Derevnya to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Men had served at the parish in Novaya Derevnya for twenty years. His assailant's or assailants' use of an ax indicated a possible revenge motive. Despite personal orders from the Soviet and later the Russian government that the case be further investigated, the murder remains unsolved. His funeral was held on the day commemorating the beheading of John the Baptist.

Since his death, Men's works and ideas have been seen as controversial among the conservative faction of the Russian Orthodox Church, citing his strong tendencies towards ecumenism which his books advocate. Nonetheless, Men has a considerable amount of supporters, some of whom argue for his canonization. His lectures are regularly broadcast over Russian radio. His books are published freely in Russia (during his lifetime, they had to be printed abroad and circulated in secret) and several key Russian Orthodox parishes encourage following his example as one who faithfully followed Christ. Two Russian Orthodox churches have been built on the site of his assassination and a growing number of believers in both Russia and abroad consider him a martyr.

Books of Alexander Men

  • "Son of Man" (1969), published abroad under pseudonym, later reissued in Russia;
  • "Heaven on Earth" (1969), published abroad under pseudonym, later reissued in Russia;
  • "History of Religion: In Search of the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Volumes 1-6, 1970-83), published abroad under pseudonym, later reissued in Russia;
  • "Where Did This All Come From?" (1972), published abroad under pseudonym, later reissued in Russia;
  • "How to Read the Bible?" (1981), published abroad under pseudonym, later reissued in Russia;
  • "The History of Religions" (Volumes 1-2, 1997);
  • "The First Apostles" (1998);
  • "Isagogics: Old and New Testaments" (2000);
  • "Bibliological Dictionary" (Volumes 1-3, 2002).


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