Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


(1886-1970) Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of the minister of trade under the last czarist regime, Timasheff was educated at the University of St. Petersburg, receiving both master's and doctoral degrees. Together with later Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, he studied under L. J. Petrazhitsky, who introduced him to the systematic study of society through law. He taught sociological jurisprudence and was Dean of the Polytechnic Institute of St. Petersburg before he had to flee the country in 1932.

Timasheff first taught at the University of Prague and at the Sorbonne before coming to the United States in 1936, where, at Sorokin's invitation, he lectured in sociology at Harvard University until 1939. He joined the Sociology Department at Fordham University in 1940, where he remained until his retirement in 1957. Timasheff continued to teach at Marymount College in Manhattan until 1963. Although almost immobilized with arthritis and in a wheelchair, he still continued his scholarly work. He published War and Revolution (Sheed & Ward) in 1965, revised his book Sociological Theory (Random House 1967), and at the time of his death was preparing a revised edition of Sociology of Law (Harvard University Press 1939). He is considered one of the founders of the sociology of law. One of his early works was Religion in Soviet Russia 1917-42 (Greenwood 1980 [1942]).

Timasheff was a scholar and a deeply religious man, recognized as a theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church. In a memorial note, Joseph P. Fitzpatrick wrote,

He faced continuously the problem of relating his religious beliefs to his scholarly activities and consistently stated that he found no serious dilemma in this area. This was largely due to his firm insistence that the canons of scientific evidence and a scientific methodology be strictly followed in sociology. He would have been deeply troubled by the obscuring of the lines between science and ideology. (Sociological Analysis 1970:56).

Loretta M. Morris

return to Encyclopedia Table of Contents

Hartford Institute for Religion Research   hirr@hartsem.edu
Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105  860-509-9500