Browsing by Subject "The Religious Roots of Europe"

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  • Hietanen, Heikki (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    This thesis is a reading of the Book of Revelation where the text’s relationship to both the Roman Empire and empires in general is evaluated. As it becomes clear that the author views the Roman Empire of his time in negative terms, two categories are used in evaluating the nature of his critique. When he opposes the Roman empire with patterns and rhetoric that are similar to the pattern of empires, his views are classified as alter-empire. When empire is resisted with something profoundly different, the term anti-empire is applied. In order to make such a categorization possible, this thesis begins by establishing central terminology and ultimately the definition of empire as a concept. Here, the guidelines are provided by the central postcolonial theorists and those biblical scholars who have applied postcolonial approaches in their works. Empire is not defined as a monolith that is but more in the terms of what it does. This concept is then used in evaluating the Roman imperial discourse, the “official” way of understanding the world and human agency in it in the time when the Book of Revelation was written. The comparison reveals how the Roman imperial discourse fits the pattern of empire and provides context for the discourse presented in Revelation. This discourse emphasizes the binary opposition of adherence to God and accommodation to the Roman discourse. What is happening on earth is a mirror image of the celestial battle between God and his adversaries. Thus all forms of compromise with the surrounding normalcy are branded as idolatrous and condemnable. His audience is encouraged to “patiently endure” and “not to be deceived” into participation in Rome’s discourse. The seemingly unlimited power of Rome will soon be revealed as pretention, when God decides to end the time he has “allowed” for Rome and his other enemies before everyone will be judged and a new order established. This judgment reveals the author’s disregard for titles, family connections and earthly might. All human beings are called to personal adherence to God, and this witness is the only condition on which an individual’s fate is decided. John is also adamant in denying violence as an acceptable agency for human beings, even if it has a major role as God’s tool in the establishment of his kingdom. These are the major anti-empire-aspects in the Book of Revelation. For the most part, the work aligns itself more along the pattern of alter-empire. Victory over enemies establishes God’s hegemony. God’s superior might and violence grants him the right to rule. The presently marginalized “saints” will share this rule, and their opponents will be destroyed. This seemingly clear-cut binarism is ultimately undermined by ambivalence, when even the final chapters seem to contain hints of blurred boundaries. Such a failure in dualistic discourses is also a typical feature of an empire.
  • Piri, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    The purpose of this thesis is to compare the characters of David and Judith and particularly the notions of the ideal masculinities. The purpose is also to ask if the findings also reflect the general understanding of the Old Testament masculinities. The primary sources are the book of Judith, in particular the chapters 8-16 where Judith herself is acting and the 1. Samuel 16-18 where David is introduced for the first time. The main research questions are:1) What kind of similarities and differences can be found from these texts how they present gender and a relation to the ideal masculinities? 2) More importantly, how do these characters have been chosen to the role of hero(ine) when they do not resonate primarily with the ideal masculinity? The main reason why these two characters are chosen is their similar narrative elements and more importantly, the both characters represent the subordinate masculinities. The characters have to find alternative strategies in order to act unconventionally and to challenge the hegemonic power. Focusing on masculine and feminine qualities of the chosen characters, the presumption is that the construction of gender is embedded in the symbolical level of different cultures and can be analysed. The focus is on both female and male character, in particularly characters that do not fulfil the ideal hegemonic characteristics. The assumption is that this starting point will give a different view than if the focus was only on female characters or solely male characters. The main masculine ideals that are brought out from the source texts are beauty, persuasiveness and wisdom, prowess and courage in the battlefield and the divine masculinity. The conclusion shows that masculinity in the Old Testament is more complex than the masculinity theory normally suggests. The distinction between the hegemony and the subordinate masculinities varies a lot and the representatives in lower positions find their way to act against the unconventional roles. It is possible because the ultimate power is the divine power. God is unchanging representation of the hegemony who has power over human beings.
  • Andreeva, Tatiana (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    This study focuses on comparison of demonologies in the texts Apocryphon of John, The Life of Antony and Asclepius. The study has two aims. Firstly, to bring together demonologies of the texts that were normally investigated separately and contrast them. Secondly, to analyse the result of the comparison and speculate about possible social setting that could have generate them. The latest is conducted with the help of Grid and Group Theory by Mary Douglas, which is used as a heuristic tool. What can be suggested about the social setting of the text that produced such a demonology? The study proceeds by juxtaposing demonologies with each other and by examining specific “traits” of texts’ demonologies: hierarchy, ranking, classification and etiology. All the collected data in the process of comparison is, simultaneously, analysed and evaluated from the perspective of Grid And Group Theory. Thus, distinctive features of every demonology are also juxtaposed with typical features of demonologies typical for four social setting (strong group/strong grid, strong group/weak grid, weak group/ strong grid, weak group/ weak grid), invented by Mary Douglas. After that, I move on to investigation the demonologies from the perspective of motivation (rationale) of Evil in them and their role in the bodily interference. According to Group and Grid theory, social structure of the community also somehow reflects not only the hierarchical side of cosmology, but also qualitative one. Thus, the texts are categorized in accordance with how justified Evil is in them and the importance of purity and impurity in cosmology. The last analysis chapter is concerned with comparing ways of demons attack and ways of possible defense against it. The examination shows how authoritative and dangerous the malevolent creatures are in each text. The results of the analyses confirm that all the three texts have different demonologies and, according to Grid and Group Theory, may be ascribed to different social settings. In case of The Life of Antony it is “strong group/ strong grid”, while Apocryphon of John fits well in “strong group/weak grid”. As for Asclepis, it bears the features of 3 social settings: strong group/strong grid, strong group/weak grid, weak group/ strong grid, weak group.
  • Österinen, Kaisu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2016)
    This study looks at the way in which the good works inspired by religious motives are related to the secular understanding of development. The aim is to better understand how development workers with religious worldview define the concept of development and how their faith influences their thinking. Faith is understood as the source of values based on which the ideas of development are shaped. The task is approached by interviewing the Finnish staff members of a Pentecostal development organization, Fida International. Their staff members’ understanding of development is studied. Development as a religious concept is formulated based on the interviews. The background chapters give the context of the study by introducing the debate and connections between the concepts of religion and development. Also an introduction of the capability approach developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum is provided since in this study it represents the secular understanding of development. The key concepts of the approach: functionings, agency and development are used to analyze how religious values influence the understanding of development. Chapter four introduces the research material, the methods and the process of analysis. The data consist of 16 interviews carried out in East Africa by the author in the spring of 2016. In chapter five the results of the analysis are presented. The valued functionings that emerge from faith were: fulfilling God’s call, living out one’s faith, deliverance and trusting God, spiritual growth, freedom from guilt through God’s forgiveness and mercy, and achieving balance and harmony. The results are brought together to formulate a definition of development as religious concept. Chapter six reflects on the results in relation to the literature focusing on the religious perception of development. The elements that faith brings to the secular understanding of development are intertwined around the holistic approach in which the economic, political, social and spiritual dimensions of development cannot be viewed separately. Therefore, the relationship between God and the human becomes central. The human finds his ultimate purpose and thus the aim of development within God in his Kingdom. Therefore, faith widens the time perspective of development from this life into eternity. According to the interviewees of the study God has called the human to love him by loving his neighbors. Solidarity, equality and just world become the aim of development within the time frame of this life. To reach there, to have Shalom in this life already, was seen as too idealistic. Therefore, the aim of the man-made development process within this time frame emerges with the ultimate aim of development, the life in God’s Kingdom in the eternity.
  • Hesso, Heikki Tauno Kalervo (Helsingfors universitet, 2014)
    This study focuses on the character of Eve in four Early Christian texts from the Nag Hammadi Codices, the Apocryphon of John, the Nature of the Rulers, On the Origin of the World and the Testimony of Truth. The study has two aims. First to study what traditions about Eve these texts use and how they use the traditons? Second, what purposes the use of these traditions serve? The study proceeds in a thematic way focusing on Eve’s creation, Eve’s rape, Eve’s children and the relationship between Eve and the serpent. Not all themes are present in every text. All texts are studied separately focusing on traditions behind the texts and reason for presenting Eve in a certain way. After this the images of Eve in every text are compared with each other. The creation of Eve separates the two characters of Eve, Heavenly and Earthly one. This dichotomy passes through the texts classified as Genesis interpretations and is used as a hermeneutical tool for studying Eve. Heavenly Eve escapes from the rape attempt of the evil creator god, who is identified as the god of the Old Testament. Her escape produces Earthly Eve, material woman. The rape attempt of the creator god underlines the hostility and licentiousness of the Old Testament god. Eve’s children derive from the rape of Earthly Eve and from Adam’s knowing his divine counterpart, whose name differs from the texts but it can be linked to the character of Heavenly Eve. Eve’s children stand for the division between different human classes. Eve's rape underlines the hostility of the Old Testament god and explains the origin of the human need for the procreation. The serpent is either a teacher of sexual lust or when interpreted positively, is connected to Heavenly Eve or Christ and the correct instruction and enlightenment of the humans. The texts use Early Jewish, Christian and rabbinical material dealing with the events of Genesis. They rework these traditions in order to present the character of the creator god negatively and to promote ascetic lifestyle. Through Earthly Eve the negativity of the creator god and origin of the passions in human life are demonstrated. Heavenly Eve stands for virginity, spirituality and renunciation of the bodily needs thus serving as a support for the ascetic lifestyle and the social conventions of the readers of texts.
  • Goggin, Marina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    Both ancient writers and modern scholars have noted the frequency with which ascetics in the late Roman Empire were accused of Manichaeism. Such accusations are often discussed in relation to specific incidents, but have not typically been examined as a phenomenon in their own right. In this thesis, I compare the roles of Manichaean accusations in the Priscillianist and Jovinianist controversies. Priscillian was convicted of sorcery, and yet the accusation of Manichaeism haunted him so thoroughly that after his death, the emperor Magnus Maximus freely referred to him and his companions as Manichaeans. Prior to his death, Priscillian condemned Manichaeism for its illegality and idolatry, suggesting that Manichaeans were sun-worshippers in documents intended to demonstrate his own orthodoxy to skeptics. In the Jovinianist controversy, a veritable web of accusations plagued participants on both sides. The controversy’s particular focus on marriage, sex, and celibacy created an environment in which Manichaeism was frequently invoked, first to condemn anyone who rejected marriage as the Manichaeans were said to do, and later to condemn even Jovinian, who specifically campaigned against the elevation of celibacy. A comparison of the two controversies reveals a few basic patterns. First, the “Manichaean” label was versatile because Manichaeism itself carried a wealth of negative connotations, from magic to rejection of marriage to idolatry; it could easily be applied to opponents for a broad variety of reasons. Second, there are commonalities between the accusations in the two controversies: association with illegality, heresy, and asceticism are the common threads that unite the accusations. Third, in a time when the boundaries of orthodoxy were still being debated, Manichaeism served as a useful signpost for what was not orthodox. There were many polemical labels that could be applied to one’s opponents in this period; I argue that the accusation of Manichaeism stood out for its versatility, power, and the immediate relevance it gained from the visible presence of Manichaeans in the Empire.
  • Lai, Kenneth Wenchen (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    The details of the mission of Manichaeism—a religion that rose out of a Jewish-Christian milieu in Roman Babylonia in the 3rd century CE—emerge from both polemical sources and genuine Manichaean sources, the latter of which have been greatly expanded in the past century with a number of discoveries. This thesis presents a comparative study that critically evaluates the sources for and identifies the practices of the Manichaean mission in the Roman West between the 3rd century CE, when the religion was founded, and the 6th century CE, when the religion was persecuted off the face of the Western Roman Empire. By comparing the corpus of Augustine (who was himself a Manichaean for 9 years) and Manichaean sources, the thesis identifies a total of eight Manichaean practices that can be tied to the Roman West: (1) the undertaking of polemical treatises and doctrinal debates; (2) the command of a broad range of languages; (3) exegesis of the New Testament to unearth Manichaean beliefs; (4) the comparison of Old and New Testament passages (= disputations) to demonstrate the falseness of the Old Testament, which no true Christian should believe in; (5) missions in the guise of merchant trade; (6) the appeal to similarities with the disciples of Jesus; (7) sensationalist appeals to the appearances of poverty and association with women; and (8) the donation of children by lay Manichaeans to become missionaries. Among those identified here, practices (6)–(8) seem to be unique contributions to the field; chapter 3 furthermore reconstructs the theological underpinning of practice (8). Previous scholarship has not focused specifically on a critical examination of the Manichaean mission. In using a comparative method, this thesis compares attestation of Manichaean missionary practices internally (i.e., within, for instance, Augustine’s corpus to see if he is consistent in his attestation of the same practice) and externally (i.e., to see if polemical reports match up with genuine Manichaean reports). When making external comparisons, if attestation is found in Augustine but not in Manichaean sources, it is surmised that the practice is likely a heresiological invention; if in Manichaean but not in Augustinian sources, then perhaps a missionary practice that was not used or else simply not attested in the Roman West. The standard is generally, at any rate, to seek attestation in both sources and thus to verify that the practice was indeed used and witnessed in the Roman West. Finally, the appendices present the first English translation of a recently discovered sermon by Augustine (Serm. 350F) and two tables compiling Manichaean disputations.
  • Huerta Jiménez, Diego Alonso (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    The purpose of this thesis is to problematize the complexity and the variety of voices that dialogued by the end of the third century a.D. in Rome in order to contribute to shape the phenomenon we have come to know as Christianity. The research question is:as opposed to using just a source associated with the Church, what additional perspectives are provided by the juxtaposition of more voices in order to conceptualise alterity within Christianity in this foundational moment? In order to answer it, I use three sources (Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica, Lactantius’ De Mortibus Persecutorum and the Memoria Apostolorum graffiti in Via Appia, Rome), which provide a variety of voices associated with a range social actors. The objective is to give a broader account of Christian alterity in late antiquity by means of applying a dialogic approach. Originally proposed by Mikhail Bakhtin, this hermeneutic paradigm seeks to juxtapose the voices of all the social actors implied in order to show the conflict between. Given that it would not be possible to juxtapose all the possible sources, I base my analysis in a historical framework grounded on secondary literature that also acts as a metadiscursive context to interpret the sources. I make use of mixed methods based on content analysis, using MaxQDA to code segments in all three sources and then analyse their frequencies in order to delineate which variables are more relevant to analyse. I thereafter present comments; first analysing only Eusebius’ text, then analysing all three together and showing the conflict between them. Finally, I contrast both conceptualisations. My main conclusion is that an open ended account of history represents alterity in a more complex way that allows researchers to make folk discourses visible, as was the case for these three sources, despite having the risk of being more chaotic.
  • Kärkkäinen, Jarkko-Pekka (Helsingfors universitet, 2014)
    In my thesis I examined a pseudepigraphal gospel called the Gospel of Barnabas (GOB). This so called gospel has been an important part of the Muslim polemics against Christianity since the beginning of the 20th century. Many Muslim scholars claim that it is the only true Gospel written by Jesus’ close disciple and apostle Barnabas. However, the majority of the Western scholars claim that it is really a medieval Islamic writing. My approach to the study of the GOB was quite theoretical; I used two different theories through which I tried to get new information on the GOB. The first theory is the counter-history theory developed by Amos Funkenstein and David Biale. Through this theory I examined the GOB itself and tried to analyse if it can be seen as a counter-history. With this theory I answered to the research question “what kind of text is the GOB?” The other theory is the power relations theory by James C. Scott. Through this theory I examined the historical situation of Moriscos in Spain and tried to see if it is reasonable to locate the origins of the GOB there. With power relations theory my aim was to answer to the research question “where and why was the GOB written?” Through the counter-history theory I found out that the author of the GOB has used mainly Christian sources to produce a different depiction of Jesus’ life. With the thematic analysis I discovered that the GOB redacts many important Christian dogmas with Islamic ideas and so produces an Islamic counter-history of the narratives of the canonical gospels. Hence, as an answer to the research question of what kind of text the GOB is, I would say that the GOB is an (polemical?) Islamic counter-history of the Christian idea of Jesus. Through the power relations theory I found out that the power relations between dominant Christians and subordinate Moriscos was a very fruitful context for a writing such as the GOB to emerge. The GOB can be seen as a disguised intellectual resistance, where the message and the messenger are hidden. It was probably written to influence the Christian majority. To the research question of where and why the GOB was written, I answer that it was probably written in Morisco Spain as an intellectual resistance.
  • Ahonen, Tommi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    This thesis will aim to answer at least the following questions: How is the Sūrat al-Qāriʿa (Q 101) rendered in the Nordic translations of the Qurʾān? What are the similarities and differences between different translation? In what ways do the different translations relate to the source text? What aspects of the source text are prioritized by the translators? These questions are approached from the perspective of Translation Theory. The problem of equivalence is discussed in relation to the work of Eugene Nida in his Towards a Science of Translation (1964). I will argue that translating cannot be separated from hermeneutics, since "every translation is at the same time an interpretation" as Hans-Georg Gadamer has stated. The problem of hermeneutics and Translation Theory is discussed from the hermeneutical perspective of Hans-Georg Gadamer especially as developed in his monograph Truth and Method (1960). The Skopos Theory formulated by Katharina Reiß and Hans J. Vermeer will be discussed as a possible answer to these underlying problems. The method of research applied in this thesis will consist of various hermeneutical cycles of reading, interpretation, and re-reading. After analyzing the Sūrat al-Qāriʿa in Arabic, I will provide a comparative analysis of the translations juxtaposing the texts with each other and with the Arabic text. This section will discuss similarities and differences, the proximity between the original and the translation, some possible biblical intertextualities, and possible interpretative associations of the translations in their Nordic context. This thesis will point out many subtle similarities, differences and translational tendencies related to the translator's background that can illuminate, enrich and broaden our understanding of the Sūrat al-Qāriʿa and its reception in the Nordic countries, while also opening new perspectives on the complexities involved in translating ancient texts that are revered as sacred by many.
  • Obatnin, Georgii (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    In a history written by men, women are typically assigned minimal agency, hardly indicative of their real roles in the society. Traditionally, scholarship on women under Islam has been reliant on medieval Islamic historical, literary and legal works. These works were often written long after the events they depict and when it comes to depicting women, tend to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive. When it comes to Arabic documents written on papyrus, parchment and paper, these biases are largely nonexistent, as we are provided with a contemporaneous window into everyday life—something none of the sources mentioned above can do. In this thesis I am working with documentary sources to explore the roles of women in Egypt under early medieval Islam. Due to the scarcity of prior scholarship, apart from reconstructing some aspects of women’s lives, this thesis has two additional aims. First, it aims to build a frame of reference that can be used to read and understand Arabic documents pertaining to women. Second, it seeks to assess how and in what capacity these sources can be used in the future. Throughout the three main chapters of this thesis, twelve documents are utilized to talk about women owning and operating with real estate, slaves and businesses, as well as women’s position within the family and the society. The investigation covers the period from 750 to 969 CE and deals with all three main ethno-religious communities of Egypt—Muslim, Jewish and Coptic. Eleven out of the twelve documents presented in this work are used for the first time to study women appearing in them, while five of them have seen here their first translation into English. By reading these documents and comparing them to other, more traditional, sources, as well as works of prior scholarship, this thesis builds a more balanced picture of early medieval Egyptian life and women’s role in it. It also surveys the themes and topics present in the documentary record and maps out potential avenues for future research.
  • Tolonen, Anna-Liisa (Helsingfors universitet, 2010)
    The study attempts a reception-historical analysis of the Maccabean martyrs. The concept of reception has fundamentally to do with the re-use and interpretation of a text within new texts. In a religious tradition, certain elements become re-circulated and thus their reception may reflect the development of that particular tradition. The Maccabean martyrs first appear in 2 Maccabees. In my study, it is the Maccabean martyr figures who count as the received text; the focus is shifted from the interrelations between texts onto how the figures have been exploited in early Christian and Rabbinic sources. I have divided my sources into two categories and my analysis is in two parts. First, I analyze the reception of the Maccabean martyrs within Jewish and Christian historiographical sources, focusing on the role given to them in the depictions of the Maccabean Revolt (Chapter 3). I conclude that, within Jewish historiography, the martyrs are given roles, which vary between ultimate efficacy and marginal position with regard to making a historical difference. In Christian historiographical sources, the martyrs role grows in importance by time: however, it is not before a Christian cult of the Maccabean martyrs has been established, that the Christian historiographies consider them historically effective. After the first part, I move on to analyze the reception in sources, which make use of the Maccabean martyrs as paradigmatic figures (Chapter 4). I have suggested that the martyrs are paradigmatic in the context of martyrdom, persecution and destruction, on one hand, and in a homiletic context, inspiring religious celebration, on the other. I conclude that, as the figures are considered pre-Christian and biblical martyrs, they function well in terms of Christian martyrdom and have contributed to the development of its ideals. Furthermore, the presentation of the martyr figures in Rabbinic sources demonstrates how the notion of Jewish martyrdom arises from experiences of destruction and despair, not so much from heroic confession of faith in the face of persecution. Before the emergence of a Christian cult of the Maccabean martyrs, their identity is derived namely from their biblical position. Later on, in the homiletic context, their Jewish identity is debated and sometimes reconstructed as fundamentally Christian , despite of their Jewish origins. Similar debate about their identity is not found in the Rabbinic versions of their martyrdom and nothing there indicates a mutual debate between early Christians and Jews. A thematic comparison shows that the Rabbinic and Christian cases of reception are non-reliant on each other but also that they link to one another. Especially the scriptural connections, often made to the Maccabean mother, reveal the similarities. The results of the analyses confirm that the early history of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism share, at least partly, the same religious environment and intertwining traditions, not only during the first century or two but until Late Antiquity and beyond. More likely, the reception of the Maccabean martyrs demonstrates that these religious traditions never ceased to influence one another.
  • Mylov, Petr (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    This research examines the aspects of Jesus’ life related to food in the writings of Clement of Alexandria. In discussing the relevant descriptions of Jesus that we have in Paedogogus and Stromata of Clement, the author reveals some views that Clement adopts from Greek philosophical tradition. This study also investigates how Clement combines concepts developed in Greek philosophy and religion with Christian teaching based inherently on the Bible. This thesis is divided into four chapters and an appendix. The first chapter deals with the proper relationship to food according to Clement and antiquity. It serves as background material for Clement in questions about how ordinary people should eat and the exceptional cases of gods and divine men in relation to food. The second chapter is focused on what Clement considered some extraordinary abilities of Jesus’ body: Jesus did not experience hunger and Jesus did not defecate. The last two chapters deal with the human side of Jesus’ life on earth. First is an examination of Clement’s teaching on the Savior’s body grounded on the Gospel of John. This is contrasted with the docetic views that Jesus had phantasmal body. Clement argued against this opinion and his main proof that Jesus had real body is that He ate food. This statement is discussed in the last chapter. The appendix contains an analysis of a fragment from Clement that con-tains a clearly docetic description of Jesus.
  • Dedua, Solomon (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    This thesis is born out of an observation in some recent scholarly research that tends to polarize early church fathers, particularly Jerome and Augustine in their attitude towards the expression of grief by bereaved Christians. Augustine is said to allow a moderation of grief while Jerome condemns it outright. Adopting a literary analytical method, this thesis sets out to find the disposition of saints Jerome and Augustine towards the expression of grief in their consolation letters. The study finds out that there are more similarities in Jerome’s and Augustine’s approaches to grief than differences. Neither of these men maintained a singular stand on the expression of grief but adjusted their position depending on various circumstances. Their ideal recommendation was that Christians ought not to weep at all for deceased Christians but instead to rejoice and congratulate them for having left a world of sin to be with Christ. But when circumstances made the emotion of grief too powerful to bear, the church fathers excused grief and instead called for moderation. Having been bereaved themselves, at one point or the other, the church fathers were not unaware of the power of this emotion. When grief was excused, they explained that the grief was not for the departed person but for the virtues lost due to the death and for the living because they are allowed to continue in the world of turmoil and away from paradise. Grief also became legitimate if the deceased person died in sin because then, he would descend to hell. In their consolation letters the church fathers adapted traditional lines of arguments that were current in the Greco-Roman consolations to correspond with the teachings of the Bible in order to offer consolation to bereaved Christians. This hybrid produced a kind of consolation that some scholars have referred to as ‘theological consolation’. Unlike the philosophical consolation of the pagans, Christian consolation was hinged on the assurance of resurrection at the second coming of Christ. But as the second coming of Christ became less and less imminent than it was first thought the church fathers began to offer consolation based on an assurance that the deceased believer is already in heaven. The thesis begins with a survey of the ancient practice of consolation, a practice that was first documented and transmitted by the Greeks but adopted and preserved by Romans and then Greek and Latin church fathers. There was also an attempt to define consolation as a literary genre, an effort that many scholars find problematic due to the vastness of literature with consolatory content and the variety in degree of consolation in each. The solution to this problem was to view consolation as a theme present in various genres rather than a genre of its own. On this basis, my sources were delimited to include only patristic epistolary consolation.
  • Suominen, Xana (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    Religion is increasingly a part of public discussion. This study investigated the theme in the context of the Finnish armed forces, by researching the attitudes towards religion of a young group of officers. The objective was to uncover if they opined that they would professionally benefit from added knowledge on the on religions and cultures. The study was conducted by first analyzing a variety of religious texts from the Bible and the Qur’an, using the method of reception. After this, analysis of a course designed to improve the officers’ action competence was conducted, by researching its content as it applied to religious material. Finally, a reception exercise was conducted with the students, who also answered additional questions on their values and their opinions on necessary education on the matter. Material from a US document was also analyzed in increase context. The results were that almost all of students did find religious and cultural education useful in their profession. Religion was not personally important to them, and while most exhibited an unattached attitude towards the texts, some were in part even hostile towards them. In their opinion religion should have no part in any decision making which involved the running of a state, but Christianity had value as part of the Finnish cultural heritage and value system. The core values explicated by the students were love of home and family, love of country, wanting to belong to a community, uprightness, honesty, justice and appreciation of professionalism. Ethical considerations were discussed greatly and contradictory expectations of them weight on many of them, i.e. the expectations for officers to be both gentlemen (and women) and killers. They were also worried of having to take a life, showing no trigger-happy attitude, as far as the author observed. As a further study it is suggested that similar experiences from soldiers on international missions and from other governmental agencies are collected, in order to create a system of education in this area.
  • Vuoksenmaa, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The purpose of this thesis is to study healing scenes in late ancient Roman martyr passions, the gesta martyrum. The passions have been relatively understudied until recently, and their storylines, in particular, have rarely been studied. The high incidence of miraculous healings has directed me to focus on depictions of physical, sensory and mental infirmities. The purposes their healing serves in the passions are at the centre of this study. My research questions are the following: Why are people with infirmities healed in the passions? What kind of infirmities are healed? Are there positive depictions of infirmity? To illustrate the diversity of emphases in different passions, I have studied four separate narratives, each one from a different thematic point of view. First, I focus on the relationship between healing and conversion. Secondly, I study the use of infirmities in demeaning one’s enemies. Thirdly, I study virginity and its protection by infirmity and its removal. In my final chapter, I discuss if it is possible to see the bodies of martyrs as infirm bodies. I use theories and concepts from disability studies are used to study the representations and uses of infirm bodies in the narratives. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder’s narrative prosthesis calls attention to the narrative’s exploitation of disabled bodies to pursue abstract goals. Anna Rebecca Solevåg’s concept of disability invective focuses on the use of disability as an accusation. Crip theory will offer tools to discuss inclusive portrayals of infirmity and whether or not these can be found in the passions. The results of the study show that infirm bodies were valuable tools which are used for multiple, partly overlapping goals. Healings promote saints, attract converts, and ridicule the enemies of the Christians. Infirmity is particularly often related to ideas of masculinity which accusations and inflictions of infirmity effectively weaken. A specific infirmity is chosen to be healed because its connotations are useful in pursuit of specific narrative goals. The healing usually aims at the future, as the passions emphasise the newly healed person’s future life as a non-infirm Christian. Infirm bodies are easily instrumentalised because in the logic of the passions, their existence contains an objective for change. An infirm body is always seen in need of eventual healing – if not in this world then in the afterlife. The ways the passions use infirmity marginalise it into something that mostly exists to prove a point. Similar problems can be encountered even today when people with infirmities hear or read narratives containing similar tones. The use of bodies with infirmities stands out for its flexibility and unexpected versatility and calls for further study.