Huippuyksikön Ivan Miroshnikov väittelee 14.10.2016

MA Ivan Miroshnikov väittelee 14.10.2016 klo 12 Helsingin yliopiston teologisessa tiedekunnassa aiheesta “The Gospel of Thomas and Plato: A Study of the Impact of Platonism on the ‘Fifth Gospel'”. Väitöstilaisuus järjestetään osoitteessa Päärakennus, sali 13, Fabianinkatu 33.

Vastaväittäjänä on professori Harold W. Attridge (Yale Divinity School) ja kustoksena on professori Ismo Dunderberg.

XXIV Finnish Symposium on Late Antiquity – Slavery in Late Antiquity

Registration for the symposium starts!

Tvärminne, Finland
11–12 November, 2016

OrjatThe theme of this year’s symposium is Slavery in Late Antiquity. Research on slavery in the late Roman Empire and in the post-Roman kingdoms has been expanding and evolving in the recent decades. The theme will be approached from a wide perspective, including social, economic, political, legal, ideological and religious levels.

The keynote speakers of the symposium are: Chris De Wet (New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa), Marianne Bjelland Kartzow (New Testament Studies at the University of Oslo) and Marja Vierros (Classics, University of Helsinki). Please refer to the programme below.

The symposium is free, but the number of participants we can take is limited. It will be organized at the Tvärminne Zoological Station on the southern coast of Finland. We offer transportation from Helsinki to Tvärminne and the return journey, as well as accommodation (one night) and meals in Tvärminne. However, we are not able to cover any travel costs to or accommodation in Helsinki.

Registration for the symposium starts on 1 October and closes on 26 October 2016. In order to register as a participant for the seminar, please send an email to Ville Vuolanto ville.vuolanto(at) Upon applying for participation, you are kindly asked to provide your contact information as well as to inform us about special diets etc. Please also mention if you do NOT need the coach transportation from Helsinki.

The symposium is organised by Maijastina Kahlos, University of Helsinki, Ulla Tervahauta, University of Helsinki and Ville Vuolanto, University of Tampere / University of Oslo.

The Symposium is funded by the Centre of Excellence “Reason and Religious Recognition”, Faculty of Theology; Jaakko Frösen Fund; and Department of World Cultures, Faculty of Humanities, University of Helsinki.

XXIV Finnish Symposium on Late Antiquity
Tvärminne, 11–12 November 2016

Friday 11 November
9.00 Departure by coach from Helsinki
c. 11 Arrival and accommodation
11.30 Opening of the Symposium
11.45 Lunch

12.30 Friday session I: Rethinking slavery in Late Antiquity
Chris De Wet: The Captive Monk: Late Antique Slavery and Syrian Ascetical Theology and Practice
Kate Cooper: Slavery and social exclusion: Christian advice to late Roman landowners
Arkadii Avdokhin: (Il)legal Freedom? Christ and Redemption from Slavery to Satan in Late Antique Liturgical Texts
14.15 Coffee

14.35 Friday session II: Early Christian discourses
Marianne Bjelland Kartzow: The Paradox of Slavery in Early Christian Discourse: An Intersectional Approach
P.J.J. Botha: Marking bodies: ritual and discipline in early Christian discourse

16:00 Friday session III: Coloni
Uiran Gebara da Silva: Rural Slavery in Late Roman Gaul
Florian Battistella and David Pitz: Colonos, qui fugam meditantur, in servilem condicionem ferro ligari conveniet (Cod. Theod. 5,17,1). Some Observations about the Relationship between Slavery and the Colonate in Late Antiquity

17.00 Sauna/Men
18.30 Sauna/Women
20.00 Dinner

Saturday 12 November:
8.00-9.00 Breakfast

9.00 Saturday session I: Slavery in the Margins
Marja Vierros: Slaves in the Sixth Century Palestine in the Light of Papyrological Evidence
Judith Evans Grubbs: From Slave to Saint: the enslavement of St Patrick
Ilkka Lindstedt: Slavery in the early Islamic period in the light of epigraphy
11.45 Lunch

12.00 Saturday session II: Living as a slave
Elizabeth Fentress: The Material Culture of Slave quarters in Roman Italy
Mariana Bodnaruk: Inscribing Inequality: Late Antique Slavery in Epigraphic Evidence
Ilaria Grossi: Tene me ne fugiam et revoca me ad dominum! The relationships between slaves and owners through late antique collaria

14.00 Conclusion of the symposium and coffee
15.00 Departure
c. 17 Arrival in Helsinki

Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language in Helsinki September 8 and 9 2016

Text by Hanne Appelqvist, photos by Heikki J. Koskinen


When asked what jazz is, Louis Armstrong replied “If you got to ask, you ain’t never gonna get to know”. Is there something – a limit of language – that defies our attempts to express in words what it is? That was the question that brought to Helsinki a group of Wittgenstein scholars to discuss the nature of logic, grammar, linguistic frameworks, relativism, thought, and consciousness in the attempt to get clearer on what Wittgenstein means by his references to the notion of a limit of language. Can we use language to get outside of language – a question explored by Bill Child’s keynote address? Or is our sight limited or conditioned by the grammar of our language, even if that grammar is of our own making? Or is the idea of, for example, ineffable conscious states (of humans) a merchandise of new mysterianism, to be demystified by proper conceptual analysis, as argued by Hans-Johann Glock in his keynote address?


The notion of a limit is of Kantian origin. For Kant, the goal of philosophical investigation was to determine the necessary, limiting conditions of different types of judgment. As early as in 1960, the Finnish Erik Stenius claimed that there was something similar going on in Wittgenstein’s early work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. According to Stenius, the early Wittgenstein aimed at showing that logical form is the necessary condition for the possibility of language and therefore cannot itself be expressed by linguistic means. Just like the jazz tune that displays its own form, so too the propositions of language – that themselves say something about the world – simply show the form that makes saying possible. Hence, Wittgenstein writes, “Logic pervades the world: the limits of the world are also its limits” (TLP 5.61). For Stenius, this did not mean that the philosopher could not reflect the limits of language from within, only that no viewpoint from without will present itself. Nevertheless, this view leaves open how exactly we are supposed to understanding the relation between language and the world, a question treated by Colin Johnston’s paper on Wittgenstein on Representability and Possibility. And what to make of the subject of language – Wittgenstein’s early ‘I’ of the ‘I think’ or his later ‘we’ of ‘this is what we do’ – notions that got an in-depth examination in the papers given by Jakub Gomulka, Adrian Haddock, and Constantine Sandis?


In Wittgenstein’s later work, the question of a limit of language becomes associated with the possibility of justifying the application of a rule of language by conceptual means. This question was put on the table already by the opening keynote address by Child, suggesting that the norms of language could be seen as supervening on the non-normative facts of our practices. Further illumination of the issue was offered by papers that placed Wittgenstein’s thought into a wider context, relating it to the positions of Carnap and Moore, discussed by Leila Haaparanta, Suki Finn, and Yrsa Neumann, as well as to the contemporary debate on relativism, addressed by Gurpreet Rattan. The likely candidates of ineffabilia in Wittgenstein’s thought, namely, aesthetics, ethics, and religion, received attention in the papers by Willie van der Merwe & Tony Pacyna as well as Eran Guter, who called for a new evaluation of the role of music in Wittgenstein’s philosophical development. If the understanding of language is more like the understanding of a musical thought, then what is the lesson we are supposed to draw from this? Was Louis Armstrong in agreement with Wittgenstein, who said about aesthetics: “A solution must speak for itself. If when I’ve made you see what I see, it doesn’t appeal to you, there is an end” (M 9: 31).



Voimallinen rukous ja historia

Anna-Liisa Tolonen, ‘Voimallinen rukous ja historia: valta ja vuorovaikutus Toisessa makkabilaiskirjassa’, Raamattu ja magia (Suomen Eksegeettisen Seuran julkaisuja 110/2016), toim. K. Valkama & H. von Weissenberg & N. Nikki.

Toinen makkabilaiskirja kuvaa makkabilaiskirjan historiaa värikkäästi ja sen kirjoittajan pontimena on kuvata ajan keskeiset ja mielenkiintoiset tapahtumat. Tyylillisesti teos edustaa hellenististä historiakirjoitusta. Artikkelissa tarkastellaan sitä, kuinka rukous toimii historiassa Toisen makkabilaiskirjan mukaan ja millaista toimijuutta se mahdollistaa. Analyysin polttopisteessä on kysymys rukouksen vaikuttavuudesta: voidaanko rukouksella ohjailla Jumalaa ja jos niin miten ja missä määrin? Artikkelissa väitetään, että Toisessa makkabilaiskirjassa kuvaattu rukous on tavoitteellista ja vaikutusvaltaista toimintaa. Rukouksen sisältöjen ja kohteen ohella rukoilijan laadusta tulee rukouksen vaikuttavuuden kannalta merkittävää: hyveellinen tai hurskas rukoilija saa Kaikkivaltiaalta odottamansa avun. Lopuksi artikkelissa arvioidaan rukouksen vaikuttavuutta tunnustamisen näkökulmasta. Rukous on yhtäältä keino antaa tunnustusta Kaikkivaltiaalle Jumalalle. Toisaalta Jumalan voimateot, joita rukouksissa pyydetään, valjastetaan Toisessa makkabilaiskirjassa tukemaan teoksen päähenkilöiden auktoriteettia. Kuvaukset heidän kyvykkyydestään toimia oikein ja käyttää valtaa – mukaan lukien jumalalliset voimat – viisaasti korostavat päähenkilöiden toiminnan vaikuttavuutta ja ylivertaisuutta.

Interactions with Others in John Chrysostom

Anna-Liisa Tolonen, ‘Interactions with Others in John Chrysostom as a Means to Manage a Diversity of Visions’, De Gruyter’s Open Theology. Vol. 2. Issue 1, pp. 494-510

This article is based on a paper presented at the AAR Annual Meeting 2015 in Atlanta, USA.

The article is available at

Two opposing opinions about “the Maccabees” feature in the homily On Eleazar and the Seven Boys. According to the homilist, “the Maccabees” can be recognized as martyrs; yet, many others fail to see it. The construction of this conflict relies heavily on another confrontation identifiable in the same text: a dialogue between the homilist and “the Jew”, who thinks differently and, in the opinion of the homilist, incorrectly. These tensions in the source may be taken to reflect “identity-political” issues of the time and evaluated accordingly. My analysis challenges this view by emphasizing how difficult it is to reconstruct historical encounters between persons/groups based on such a source. I suggest, instead, that the conflict and dialogue should be considered parallel examples of how, in the context of late antiquity, a Christian intellectual mind conceptualizes “difference” (of opinions or between identities) and how it deals with it. The analysis shows that the homilist’s argumentation is built on seemingly commonsensical or authoritative fair-to-all “facts”. Yet, interactions with others provide the homilist with ways to govern and re-produce those very facts. They are not social struggles but, rather, they represent the level of otherness contained in the discourse.

Conference program: “The Synagogue in Ancient Palestine” (Helsinki, Sept 21-24, 2016)

Synagogue posterConference program: “The Synagogue in Ancient Palestine” (Helsinki, Sept 21-24, 2016)

Wednesday September 21, 2016

18:00 Public lecture organized by the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME): “Samson in Stone: New Discoveries in the Ancient Village and Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee”, Prof. Dr. Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
19:00 Reception for conference participants

Thursday September 22, 2016

9:15-9:30 Opening words by organizers
Session 1: Contextualizing synagogue art
9:30-10:20 Keynote lecture: Visual vs. Virtual Reality: Interpreting Synagogue Mosaic Art
Zeev Weiss (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
10:20-10:50 A Re-reading of the Japhi’a Circle
Géza G. Xeravits (Selye J. University, Slovakia)
10:50-11:20 Coffee & tea break
11:20-11:50 The Style of the Synagogue of Beth Alpha Mosaics
Lidia Chakovskaya (Moscow State University, Russia)
11:50-12:20 The Appearance of the Menorah in Ancient Jewish Art
Gary Gilbert (Claremont McKenna College, USA)
12:20-13:50 Lunch break
Session 2: Leadership, power and daily life in the synagogues
 13:50-14:40 Keynote lecture: Writing as Power: Texts, Pictures, and Daily Life in Ancient Levantine Synagogues
Karen Gabbay Stern (CUNY Brooklyn College, USA)
 14:40-15:10 The Art of Persuasion: The Socio-Political Context of Public Synagogue Debates in the Second-Temple Period
Jordan J. Ryan (McMaster University, Canada)
 15:10-15:40  Coffee & tea break
 15:40-16:10 The Role of Jewish Priests in Early Synagogue Leadership and Worship
Matthew J. Grey (Brigham Young University, USA)
16:10-16:40 The Upper Room as Triclinium? Textual and material evidence
Eric Ottenheijm (University of Utrecht, the Netherlands)
17:30-18:30  Visit to the Helsinki Synagogue (Rabbi Simon Livson)
19:00  Dinner for conference presenters

Friday September 23, 2016

Session 3: Synagogues in the late antique landscape
9:30-10:20 Keynote lecture: Floors, Benches, and a Platform. The Synagogue at Horvat Kur as Liturgical Space
Jürgen K. Zangenberg (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
10:20-10:50 Galilean Synagogues in the Context of Ancient Religious Competition
Raimo Hakola (University of Helsinki, Finland)
10:50-11:20 Coffee & tea break
11:20-11:50 How Many Synagogues Were Found, Where and Why?
Chaim Ben David (Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel)
11:50-12:20 The Torah shrine in Byzantine synagogues
Ulla Tervahauta (University of Helsinki, Finland)
12:20-13:50 Lunch break
Session 4: Early synagogues and the 70 CE ‘watershed’
13:50-14:20 The Early Roman Synagogue at Khirbet Qana
Tom McCollough (Centre College, USA)
14:20-14:50 Reassessing the Impact of 70 CE on the Origins and Development of Palestinian Synagogues
Wally Cirafesi & Anders Runesson (University of Oslo, Norway)
14:50-15:20  Coffee & tea break
15:20-15:50 A Jewish Village and a Public Building from the Second Temple Period and the Bar Kokhba Revolt at Horvat ‘Ethri, Judean Shephelah
Boaz Zissu (Bar Ilan University, Israel)
15:50-16:20 Early Synagogues: Some thoughts on the why and how of their appearance
Rick Bonnie (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Saturday September 24, 2016

Session 5: Dating the late antique synagogues
9:30-10:20 Keynote lecture: The Huqoq Synagogue: A Regional Variant of the Galilean Type
Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)
10:20-10:50 Ancient Synagogue Dating and the Primary Source Data Divide
Chad Spigel (Trinity University, USA)
10:50-11:20 Coffee & tea break
11:20-11:50 Dating Capernaum Synagogue by Stylistic Method. Some Aspects of its Reconstruction
Svetlana Tarkhanova (Russian Academy of Architecture and Building Science, Russia)
11:50-12:20 Supporting a regional typology of the ancient synagogues in Israel
Mordechai Aviam (Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel)
12:20-13:00 Discussion and closing words by organizers
13:00-14:30 Lunch break
14:30-17:00 Helsinki city center tour (optional)

Please note that unforeseen program changes may occur.

To download a booklet with the full program and other information, click here. For the initial call for papers and additional information see here.

Funding for the conference is generously provided by the Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions and the Centre of Excellence in Reason and Religious Recognition, both Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki. The conference is organized in co-operation with the Foundation of the Finnish Institute in the Middle East.

Kristityt egyptiläisessä yhteiskunnassa


Suomen Uskonnonopettajien liiton (SUOL ry) kevätseminaari pidettiin lauantaina 23.4.2016 Lähetysseuran tiloissa Helsingissä. Seminaarin aiheena oli Uskonnot, uskovaiset ja valtio Lähi-idässä. Seminaarissa kuultiin viisi esitelmää, joiden aiheet käsittelivät turkkilaista sekularismia (Anu Leinonen), Iranin islamilaista tasavaltaa (Elisa Rekola), Israelia juutalaisvaltiona (Riikka Tuori), kristittyjä egyptiläisessä yhteiskunnassa (Ulla Tervahauta) sekä Egyptin Muslimiveljeskuntaa (Andrei Sergejeff).

Ulla Tervahauta tarkasteli esitelmässään kristittyjen historiaa Egyptissä sekä antiikissa ja myöhäisantiikissa islamilaisen ajan alkuun sekä tämän päivän Egyptissä. Egyptin koptikristityt ovat merkittävä uskonnollinen vähemmistö Egyptissä sekä samalla Lähi-idän ja Pohjois-Afrikan suurin kristitty yhteisö: heidän määränsä on noin 5–10 % Egyptin väkiluvusta. Esitelmässään Tervahauta tarkasteli erityisesti kristittyjen elämää moniuskontoisessa yhteiskunnassa: kristityt ovat olleet Egyptissä vähemmistön asemassa lähes koko historiansa ajan. Lisäksi hän tarkasteli sitä, mitä asioita historiasta nostetaan identiteetinrakennuksen materiaaleiksi tämän päivän diskurssissa: keskeisesti tänäänkin näkyvät koptin kieli ja luostarihengellisyys sekä myös marttyyrien muistaminen. Uskonnolliset identiteetit ovat yleisesti ottaen korostuneet ja polarisoituneet Egyptissä siirtomaakauden jälkeen ja erityisesti 1970-luvulta alkaen. Rauhanomaisen rinnakkainelon näkökulmasta vahvojen uskonnollisten identiteettien rakentaminen tuo etujen lisäksi mukanaan haasteita. Yhtäläisyyksien korostaminen on nähty yhdeksi vastaukseksi tähän kysymykseen.


Debates over the Resurrection of the Dead


Lehtipuu, Outi. Debates over the Resurrection of the Dead: Constructing Early Cristian Identity. Oxford University Press, 2015.


In many early Christian texts the way that belief in resurrection is formulated is used as a sign of inclusion and exclusion, not only in relation to non-Christians but vis-a-vis other Christians. Those who teach otherwise have deviated from the truth, are not true Christians, and do the works of the devil. This study demonstrates how such labelling was used as a tool for marking boundaries between those who belonged and those who did not. In a situation where there were no universally accepted structures that defined what constituted the true Christian belief, several competing interpretations and their representatives struggled for recognition of their views based on what they believed to be the apostolic tradition.


A Story of the Soul’s Journey in the Nag Hammadi Library


Tervahauta, Ulla. A Story of the Soul’s Journey in the Nag Hammadi Library. A Study of Authentikos Logos (NHC VI,3), Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2015.

A Story kansi 978-3-525-54036-7

Authentikos Logos (NHC VI,3), also known as Authoritative Teaching,is a little studied story of a soul’s descent and ascent in the Nag Hammadi library. With her book Ulla Tervahauta fills a gap in the scholarship and provide the first monograph-length study that has this writingas its primary focus.

The aim is to find a place and context for Authentikos Logos within early Christianity, but Tervahauta also adds new insight into the scholarship of the Nag Hammadi Library and study of early Christianity. Contrary to the usual discussion of the Nag Hammadi writings from the viewpoint of Gnostic studies, she argues that Authentikos Logos is best approached from the context of Christian traditions of late ancient Egypt between the third and the fifth centuries.

Tervahauta discusses the story of the soul’s journey in light of various Christian and Platonic writings. Also, she analyses the relationship of Authentikos Logos with the Valentinian Wisdom myth and suggests that no firm evidence connects the writing closely with Valentinian traditions. And although a Platonic mind-set can be assumed, the writing combines motifs in a unique manner. For example, the four epithets used in the writing – the “invisible soul”, the “pneumatic soul”, the “material soul”, and the “rational soul” – are not found thus combined elsewhere. Discussion of matter (hyle) is connected with Christian scriptural allusions and the focus is on ethics and the evilness of matter. The body, on the other hand, is the soul’s place of contest and progress. The Pauline term “pneumatic body” (1 Cor 15:44) is used allusively and from a Platonic perspective.

With this book Ulla Tervahauta makes an important contribution to the study of early Christianity in late ancient Egypt by discussing a writing thatshows knowledge and creative combination of literary traditions that circulated in late ancient Egypt.

Spaces in Late Antiquity


Spaces in Late Antiquity – Cultural, Theological and Archaeological Perspectives, eds. Juliette Day, Raimo Hakola, Maijastina Kahlos & Ulla Tervahauta, Routledge: London, 2016.

Contributions from the members of CoE: Raimo Hakola, Maijastina Kahlos, Joona Salminen and Anna-Liisa Tolonen.



Day, Hakola, Kahlos, Tervahauta, Introduction: Spaces in Late Antiquity – Cultural, Theological and Archaeological Perspectives

I Cultural perspectives

Maijastina Kahlos, Meddling in the Middle? Urban Celebrations, Ecclesiastical Leaders and the Roman Emperor

Steven D. Smith, Classical Culture, Domestic Space and Imperial Vision in the Cycle of Agathias

Andreas Westergren, Monastic Space: The Ascetic Between Sacred and Civil Spheres in Theodoret of Cyrrhus

II Theological perspectives

Juliette Day, Seeing Christ at the Holy Places

David Hunter, Sacred Space, Virginal Consecration and Symbolic Power: A Liturgical Innovation and its Implications in Late Ancient Christianity

Joona Salminen, City of God and the Place of Demons: City Life and Demonology in early Christianity

Anna-Liisa Tolonen, Preaching, Feasting and Making Space for a Meaning

III Archaeological perspectives

Raimo Hakola, Galilean Jews and Christians in Context: Spaces Shared and Contested in the Eastern Galilee in Late Antiquity

Jürgen Zangenberg, Performing the Sacred in a Community Building: Observations from the 2010-2015 Kinneret Regional Project Excavations in the Byzantine Synagogue of Horvat Kur (Galilee).

Rick Bonnie, Thrown into Limekilns: The Reuse of Statuary and Architecture in Galilee from Late Antiquity Onwards,