Honorary doctors, Faculty of Theology conferment ceremony at the University of Helsinki, 9 June 2017
Bishop of Helsinki Irja Askola (b. 1952) graduated with a Master of Theology degree from the University of Helsinki in 1975. During her career, she has held demanding positions both in Finland and abroad, including in organisations such as the Conference of European Churches, the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences and the Diocese of Espoo. Dr. Askola was among the first women in Finland to be ordained as a priest, and in 2010 she was elected as Bishop of the Diocese of Helsinki. She is not only well-known as a bold participant in social debate, but also as a poet and columnist.
Professor Christine Helmer (b. 1965) is Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research Professor, and Professor of German and Religious Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (USA). Her research focuses on the historical and intellectual significance of academic theology as well as on the contribution of the theological perspective to society and other academic fields. Dr. Helmer spent the year 2012–2013 as the Marie Curie EURIAS (European Institutes of Advanced Study) Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies, has cooperated with numerous Finnish scholars and was a member of the international review committee for the Faculty of Theology in 2015.
Professor Kim Knott (b. 1955) is an internationally distinguished scholar of religions based at Lancaster University in the UK. She has developed a spatial methodology for the study of religions, investigated the conceptual relationship between religion and non-religion, written extensively about media portrayals of religion, and has focused especially on religions with Indian roots in the Western world. Dr. Knott has served as General Secretary of the European Association for the Study of Religion. Since the early 2000s, she has actively collaborated with Finnish scholars.
Professor Hartmut Lehmann (b. 1936) is an award-winning historian and church historian of international standing, who has maintained close ties with the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki for some 30 years. Besides his home country of Germany, he has worked at universities and research institutes in the United States and Australia. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Basel in 1999. In his works, he has focused especially on the nature and impact of Protestantism and the manifestations of secularisation.
Professor Christoph Levin (b. 1950) held a professorship in Old Testament theology at the University of Munich from 1998 to 2016. He is a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities and an external member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. From 2010 to 2013 he was the president of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament. He has published numerous prestigious works on the Pentateuch and the prophetic books, from which he has expanded his research perspective to include both the religious history of ancient Israel and Judah and the theology and hermeneutics of the Old Testament. Dr. Levin’s research illustrates the complicated and many-phased history of the Old Testament.
Monsignore Vello Salo (b. 1925) served as professor of Old Testament studies in Mosul, Iraq, from 1966 to 1969 and in Toronto, Canada, from 1976 to 1991. At the University of Tartu, he held the professorship of Old Testament studies from 1993 to 1994 and the professorship in Estonian literature from 2011 to 2012. From 1996 to 2005, he headed the commission investigating repression by the occupying Soviet regime in Estonia (Okupatsioonide repressiivpoliitika uurimise riiklik komisjon). Until the present, he has also served as the Father of the Pirita Convent. Dr. Salo has made significant contributions to the study of Estonian literature and the theological education of Estonia’s various churches and the Estonian veterans who fought in the Finnish Army during World War II.
Professor Friedrich Schweitzer (b. 1954) holds the chair in religious education and practical theology at the University of Tübingen. He is a leading international and European expert with broad-ranging knowledge of religious education and practical theology. In his extensive works he has discussed religious education in our modern multicultural world and examined the religious rights of children. Thanks to Dr. Schweitzer, research on the religious development of individuals has taken great steps forward. He has also had decades long collaboration with Finnish theologians.