Sergey Kovalev (historian)

Sergey Ivanovich Kovalev (Russian: Сергей Иванович Ковалёв, 25 September [O.S. 13 September] 1886 – 12 November 1960) was a Soviet scholar of classical antiquity. He was interested particularly in the Hellenistic period, the origins of Christianity, Roman history and ancient historiography.


Kovalev was born in the village of Kuganak, then in Ufa Governorate of the Russian Empire.[1] In 1910, he entered the History and Philology Department of the Saint Petersburg University, before being drafted into the military in 1915. In 1922, Kovalev graduated from the Department of Social Sciences of the Saint Petersburg University. He attained the professorship and became the Head of Department of the Ancient World in the Saint Petersburg University.[1] He also worked in the Petersburg (then Leningrad) branch of the History Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.[1] In Greek history, Kovalev denied the concept of Dorian invasion. In 1930, Kovalev published an article on the formation of ancient Macedonian state under Philip and Alexander the Great. In 1936, Kovalev published the first comprehensive Soviet textbook on ancient history for high school.[2] He became one of the editors of the three-volume Soviet book The History of Ancient World. There he authored two chapters, "The rise of Macedonia and the conquest of Asia" and "The philosophy and art of Greece during its heyday".[2] In 1945–48, Kovalev published his seminal work, The History of Rome. In 1956–60, Kovalev was the director of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism.

Historicity of JesusEdit

In 1956–59, Kovalev polemicized with British scholar Archibald Robertson about the historicity of Jesus.[3] The polemic was spurred by the Russian translation of Robertson's publication The Origins of Christianity. Kovalev, who held atheistic views, clinged to the Christ myth theory. In the foreword for the Russian translation Kovalev called Robertson's recognition of Jesus' historicity "a serious flaw" and argued to the contrary.[3] Robertson replied to Kovalev in the second edition of The Origins of Christianity. At the same time Kovalev acknowledged the historicity of John the Baptist, Paul the Apostle and apostle James.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "Ковалев Сергей Иванович" (in Russian). Saint Petersburg State University. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b Э. Д. Фролов. "С. И. Ковалев и его "История Рима"" (in Russian). Студенческое Научное Общество. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b А. В. Андреев (2015). "Дискуссия об историчности Иисуса Христа в советском религиоведении" (PDF). Вестник ПСТГУ (in Russian). Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  4. ^ Alexander Men. "Сын Человеческий" (in Russian). Retrieved 11 June 2015.