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The latest discussion about diakonia has been stimulated by the results of language analysis made for example by John N. Collins (1990, 2014) and Anni Hentschel (2006/2013). Although we know about the lexical meanings of the diak-family, we haven't yet used much of this knowledge on the functions of the parish's life (Gooder 2006, Collins 2012b).2

The aim of this meta-project is to collect high-level scientific re-interpretations, organize them and stimulate re-interpretations of the ancient (2nd to 7th c.) sources concerning diakonia. Doing this will trace and reveal correct interpretations and clear misinterpretations. This, in turn, helps to create possibilities for re-interpretations of diakonia, not the least in ecumenical discussions about the ministry of a deacon/deaconess. Therefore, in the context of discussing diakonia, this project is also analyzing the ministry and the functions of a deacon/deaconess and the ways in which the Christians helped each other during the first centuries. Therefore the name: Diakonia et parish Social work = DietS.

The main way to fulfill this aim is to distribute information (via internet pages, mails, meetings, etc.) and in this way to help researcher and other projects to cooperate. This can also lead to new research projects about persons/topics which are not analyzed yet. Some other ways may also emerge.

On this page, I will collect information about topics, which uses the ancient sources in a similar way or in ways which are aware of the ways which John N. Collins in his book shows. This page will not collect discussions about deacons and helping but concentrates on interpretations and analysis of interpretations of the ancient sources in their original language.

The leader of the project: Dr. Esko Ryökäs

1 The name "DietS": We need diets because we need to know, what we are eating and have eaten (about Deacons and Social work). – Click Presentations to go to the visualizations of the aims below. Project The project started on March 15th, 2013. About the other background of this project, click here.


titleSome examples can be seen here.

e.g., Seminar Idealismista realismiin, 22-23.9.2014 (Joensuu)

A proposal for HERA was written (spring 2015), but without effort

Symposium What Did Deacons Do?, 22-23.9.2015 (Joensuu)

  • a charitative role of a deacon was surely not the main theme on the papers presented at this symposium

Symposium What Did Deacons Do 2017?, 13-15.9.2017 (Joensuu)

  • an analyze of many fathers show clear, a charitative role of a deacon was surely not the main theme on the papers

Symposium What Did Deacons Do 2020?, mid-May (Joensuu)

  • more information on the web page


This project needs the cooperation of many writers, because of its volume. Now it is important essential to collect information about "status quo": what do we know now. This means: what do we know after the introduction of the new paradigm by John N. Collins. This phase may take some years. After that, we can start to analyze deeper that material, which has not been analyzed investigated yet.

To start, we need:

  • find out those who have written / are writing about diakonia in the early church
  • collect a book or a serie series of books like Madigan-Osiek 2005 but about the deacons ("where something is written"). We started this with Deacons and Diakonia 2018.
  • collect a similar knowledge about the Parish Social Work in the Early Church
  • find out what has already been written
  • deal the research objects to several researchers, in co-operation


It seems to be easy to give a charitative understanding to deacon's ministry, even on the highest level of scientific presentation of the 1980's1980s, against sources (Ryökäs 2015).

The deacons work as a humble service seems to be an invention of the 1930's1930s, not earlier (Ryökäs 2014a).
In 4 th Century and Egypt had the deacons almost nothing to do with the sick persons (Barrett-Lennart)

Top Aims Structure Topics Results Bibliography Presentations Add Comment


– (2001): Gunnel Borgegard, Olav Fanuelsen, Christine Hall (ed.), The Ministry of the Deacon, 2. Ecclesiological Explorations [Book review].  – International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church. Volume 1, Issue 1 (2001), pp. 103 - 106.
– (2009): A German Catholic view of Diaconate and Diakonia. [Book review.] New Diaconal Review, (IDC-NEC) vol. 1 (2009) nr. 2 pp. 41–46. – http://www.idc-nec.org/NDRV1Issue02.pdf.
– (2012a): A Monocultural Usage: διακον- words in Classical, Hellenistic, and Patristic Sources. – Vigiliae Christianae 66 (2012), 287–309.
– (2012b): Theology of Ministry in the Twentieth Century: Ongoing Problems or New Orientations?’ – Ecclesiology 8.1, 11–32.
– (2014): Diakonia Studies. Critical Issues in Ministry. Oxford University Press.

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Diaconia, diaconiae, diaconato (2010). Semantica e storia nei padri della chiesa. Studia Ephemeridis Augustinianum 117. Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum. Roma.
Diaconia in Christo. Über die Erneuerung des Diakonates. Hrsg.v. Karl Rahner u. Herbert Vorgrimler. Quaestiones Disputatae 15/16. Herder, 1962.
Dietzel, Stefan (2003): Zur Entstehung des Diakonats im Urchristentum. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit den Positionen von Wilhelm Brandt, Hermann Wolfgang Beyer und John N. Collins. – Diakonische Konturen, DWI, 2003, 136–170.
– (2013): Wendland Project: http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/354866.html
Gooder, Paula (2006): Diakonia in the New Testament: A Dialogue with John N. Collins. – Ecclesiology 3.1, 33–56.
Hentschel, Anni (2006): Diakonia im Neuen Testament. Studien zur Semantik unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Rolle von Frauen. Mohr Siebeck.
– (2008): Gibt es einen sozial-karitativ ausgerichteten Diakonat in den frühchristlichen Gemeinden? – PTh 97, 290–306.
– (2011): Diakon/Diakonin, WiBiLex, http://www.bibelwissenschaft.de/startseite/.
– (2013): Gemeinde, Ämter, Dienste. Perspektiven zur neutestamentlichen Ekklesiologie. Neukirchener Theologie, Biblisch Theologische Studien, 136.
Janhonen, Hanne (2006): ”JA HÄN LÄHETTI PALVELIJOITAAN”. Sanan διάκονος merkitys UT:ssa ja muissa antiikin teksteissä. [The meaning of διάκονος in the NT and other ancient texts. Masters thesis]  – Joepub.
Koet, Bart J. (2009): International conference on the sources of the diaconate. How it came about and how it turned out. A first report ... - New Diaconal Review, (IDC-NEC) vol. 2 (2009) nr. 3 pp. 29–32.  –  http://www.idc-nec.org/NDRV1Issue03.pdf.
Latvus, Kari (2010): Diaconal Ministry in the Light of the Reception and Re-Interpretation of Acts 6.  –  Diaconia, vol. 1, pp. 82–102, ISSN 1869-3261.
(2017): Diaconia as care for the poor?
Madigan, Kevin – Osiek, Carolyn (2005): Ordained Women in the Early Church. A Documentary History. Edited and translated by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore & London.
Reininger, Dorothea (1999): Diakonat der Frau in der Einen Kirche. Schwabenverlag.
Ryökäs, Esko (2009): "Diakonian väärinymmärryksen lyhyt historia" [A short history of misunderstanding of diakonia]. Anno Domini, 162–181.
– (2011): Zur Begründung der Diakonie bei Theodor Fliedner. Anmerkungen zum “Gutachten, die Diakonie und den Diakonat betreffend”betreffend.– Diakonische Einblicke. DWI-Jahrbuch, 49–71.
– (2012): Book review: Diaconia, diaconiae, diaconato (2010).  – Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice 3 1: 95–96.
– (2014a): Arbeiter oder Diener – über die Diakonie-Auffassungen des 20. Jahrhunderts. –  Diakoniewissenschaft in Forschung und Lehre. DWI.Jahrbuch, 107–124.
– (2015): Diaconia – A Make-Believe Which Continues?. – Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice, vol. 6, pp. 61–74.
– (2015b): "Diaconia" - a presentation on IDZ/IDC/CID 22.10.2015 (Rome): a version in YouTube.