The book written by Vasile Ernu, The Sectarians, is the first volume of a broader study dedicated to marginal groups from a geographic region that is also marginal, the Budjak province. Budjak is nowadays part of Ukraine, a region bounded on the north and west by the Republic of Moldova, on the south by Romania, and on the southeast by the Black Sea. This region was historically governed by different states and is as a consequence very heterogeneous, ethnically and culturally speaking. If The Sectarians investigates the religious marginal groups of the region, the other two planned volumes will study “the bandits” who act at the limits of law or even break it, and the “strangers” who are ethnically, culturally and politically marginalized.
Ernu’s book is not an investigation of an emotionally neutral object. The Sectarians is for the most part the history of author’s own community that he wants to say having in mind the archetype of the Five Books of Moses (the Torah, the Pentateuch). The book catches from the beginning through the author’s option for a “biblical” structure. This is unquestionably an effective strategy of captatio benevolentie. But of course the author does not seek to carry out a comprehensive parallel between the biblical story and the history of his own community. However, the central messages of the Books of Moses can be used in order to decode each of the main sections of Ernu’s book.
It has to be clearly said from the beginning that we are not speaking about a religious history book but an anthropology book that can be of interest not only for those preoccupied with religion but also for those interested in sociology, economics or politics. Continue reading “Vasile Ernu, A Short Trilogy of Marginals. The Sectarians, Polirom, Iasi, 2015 – Book Review, by Ciprian Nitu”