Top-quality research

According to the international assessments organised by the University of Helsinki, theological research at the University is of extremely high quality.

The Faculty hosts two Centres of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland from 2014 to 2019: Reason and Religious Recognition and Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions. In addition, the Faculty involves Centre of Excellence funded by the Academy of Finland from 2018 to 2025: Ancient Near Eastern Empires.

The Centre of Excellence in Reason and Religious Recognition studies the patterns of religious recognition in the past and in the present. The Centre aims to determine how religious groups have welcomed or recognised other social actors and how religions have been accepted in different societies. The Centre applies both historical and philosophical research methods.

The goal of the Centre of Excellence is to draw up the first-ever comprehensive report of the history and ideology of religious recognition. The Centre’s researchers aim to map out the historical development of religious thought and behaviour and to create models for religious recognition that are suited to the modern world and can help increase mutual respect in a multicultural society. The Centre’s research results will especially benefit dialogue processes and conflict resolution situations between religions (and between religions and the rest of society).

The director of the Centre of Excellence is Risto Saarinen, Professor of Ecumenics.

Further information

The Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions examines how momentous cultural changes in the Middle East have influenced the creation and evolution of canonical sacred texts – and vice versa. The changes are studied at various levels.

 “The changes range from minuscule differences in texts, manuscripts and translations to massive social, political, religious and demographic changes that have rocked entire nations,” explains Martti Nissinen, director of the Centre of Excellence.

The Centre’s researchers approach their subject from different perspectives, but also learn from one another and strive to bridge differences between viewpoints. The goal is to construct a historical overview using sources unearthed from archaeological digs, archives and museums. Using diverse research methodology and source material, the Centre of Excellence seeks to attain novel, innovative results.

The director of the Centre of Excellence is Martti Nissinen, Professor of Old Testament Studies.

Further information

The Centre of Excellence in Ancient Near Eastern Empires wants to find out what people living in the ancient Near East were thinking. They are turning to methods from the digital humanities for help.

Chronologically, the research begins with the first great Mesopotamian empire, the Neo-Assyrian Empire in approximately 800 BCE, and extends to the beginning of the Common Era.

The Centre of Excellence consists of three research groups that study the mental processes and identities of ancient people from three perspectives. One of the groups is working at the Faculty of Theology, led by post-doc researcher Jason Silverman. His group focuses on what research can tell us about social identities in general terms.

The director of the Centre of Excellence is Associate Professor Saana Svärd (Faculty of Arts).

Further information