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Serafim Seppälä, Professor of Systematic Theology and Patristics


Contact information:
• School of Theology
  Philosophical Faculty
  University of Eastern Finland
  PB 111, FI-80101
  Joensuu, Finland
• phone
  +358 294 45 2708
• email
  serafim.seppala (at)

School of Theology Home Pages
Currently in Theology in Joensuu


Personal information

  • Born: 1970
  • Ordinations in the Orthodox Church of Finland: Monastic tonsure 2001 (Valamo), Deacon 2004 (Helsinki), Priest 2012 (Helsinki)
  • Hobbies: Armenian and Assyrian folk music, Jewish mizrahi music.

Academic interests

These are topics that I have lectured, and/or done monographs or articles, mostly in Finnish.

  • Patristic teaching on beauty, Eastern Christian aesthetics, Philosophy of icons
  • Patristic Mariology
  • Christianity in the Middle East, Syrian Monasticism, East Syrian mysticism
  • Syriac poetry, especially St. Ephrem
  • Idea of Jerusalem in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Philosophy and spirituality of Rabbi Kook
  • Medieval Jewish spirituality and mysticism (e.g. reincarnation, female aspects of the Divinity)
  • Jewish humour, its relation to religion
  • Islamic spirituality, classical Sufism, Virgin Mary in Islam
  • Spirituality of Dostoyevsky, Kahlil Gibran and Kazantzakis
  • Philosophy of genocide, Jewish and Armenian
  • Armenian culture, especially the aftermath of genocide in art
  • Armenian art, especially medieval miniatures
  • Liturgical understanding of the East c 700-1400
  • Theology of early Christian apocrypha, especially Acts of Thomas
  • Theology of Great Lent and Easter
  • Early Arabic Christian literature
  • Theologies of baptism in the 3rd and 4th century
  • The idea of Femininity; gender study approaches to patristic literature
  • Philosophy of religion, focusing in the Greek East
  • Patristic hermeneutics

Current research interests

  • Angels in Jewish and Early Christian & Patristic Theology
  • Jews in Christian literature, fourth to seventh centuries
  • Islam in Syriac and Arabic Writings, seventh and eight centuries
  • Second Century Christian Apologetic literature
  • Cultural Heritage of Armenian Genocide

Supervised academic theses

Supervised doctoral dissertations

  • Pekka Metso, Divine Presence in the Eucharistic Theology of Nicholas Cabasilas. UEF 2010.
  • Eeva Raunistola-Juutinen, Äiti ja nunna. Ortodoksiset naiskuvat. UEF 2012.
  • Jaakko Olkinuora, Byzantine Hymnography for the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos. UEF 2015
  • Ari Koponen, The interruption of Christ : the language, beauty, and theological aesthetics of David Bentley Hart. UEF 2019.

Master's theses (in Joensuu)

  • Systematic Theology and Patristic is here







of mine









Selected articles

  • The Idea of Knowledge in East Syrian Mysticism  Studia Orientalia 101, Helsinki 2007, 265-277.
  • Holy Spirit in Isaac of Nineveh and East Syrian Mysticism  The Holy Spirit in the Fathers of the Church. Four Courts Press. Dublin 2010, 127-150.
  • Music in the Temple of Jerusalem during the Time of the Apostles  Music, State and Nation. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Orthodox Church Music. ISOCM 2010, 27-38.
  • Taivaallinen valtiatar bysanttilaisessa teologiassa, Neitsyt Maria – Israelin tytär ja kristittyjen äiti, Studier i exegetik och judaistik, Åbo Akademi 2010, 111-134.
  • The Place of Virgin Mary in the Ontology of Mystical Experience  Gotteserlebnis und Gotteslehre. Christliche und islamische Mystik im Orient. Göttinger Orientforschungen / Syriaca. Harrassowitz-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2011, 131-145.
  • Reminiscences of Icons in the Qur'an?  Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 22:1. Routledge 2011, 3-21.
  • Is Virgin Mary a Prophetess? Patristic, Syriac and Islamic Views  Parole de l'Orient 36 (2011), 367-379.
  • Baptismal mystery in St. Ephrem the Syrian and Hymnen de Epiphania  Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism in Late Antiquity. Texts and Rites in Judaism, Graeco-Roman Religion, and Early Christianity. Walter de Guyter & Co. Berlin & New York 2011, 1139-77.
  • Will of Man and Will of God in the Poetical Vision of Narekatsi  The Mystery of Christ in the Fathers of the Church, Four Courts Press. Dublin 2012, 161-178.
  • Functions of Beauty in St. Basil the Great  The Actuality of St. Basil the Great. Åbo Akademi 2012, 235-256.
  • Theodore Abu Qurrah's Narrative Strategies for Dealing with Muslim Antagonists In Maymar fî 'ikrâm al-'ayqûnât  Parole de l'Orient 37 (2012), 271-289.
  • Interpretation of Mountains in Armenian Miniatures  Series Byzantina. Studies on Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art. Volume IX. Warzaw 2012, 113-128.
  • Cappadocian Vision of Beauty: the Emergence of Byzantine Aesthetics  Saint Emperor Constantine and Christianity Volume II - Свети цар Константин и хришћанство II. Niš (Serbia) 2013, 105-115.
  • Is Existence a Song? Orthodox Remarks on the Relation between Music and Ontology  Unity and Variety in Orthodox Music: Theory and Practice. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Orthodox Church Music. ISOCM, Joensuu 2013, 29‒42.
  • Meditation in the East Syrian Tradition  Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Bloomsbury Academic. London 2013, 107‒122.
  • ”New Sinai” - Severus of Antioch on Virgin Mary  Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. Beiträge dialogischer Existenz. Lit Verlag. Berlin 2015, 137–146.

  • Angelic Mysticism in John of Dalyatha  Parole de l'Orient 41 (2015), 425–433.
  • Angelology of St. Isaac the Syrian, St Isaac the Syrian and His Spiritual Legacy  St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, New York 2015, 97‒113.

  • Genocide descending: Half-Jews in Poland and Half-Armenians in Turkey  International Journal of Armenian Genocide Studies Vol 2, No 1, 2015, 38‒57.
  • The 'Temple of Non-Being' at Tsitsernakaberd and remembrance of the Armenian genocide: an interpretation  Approaching Religion 6/2 (2016), 26-39.
  • Documentary and Artistic Perspectives on the Armenian Genocide in the Golden Apricot Film Festival  International Journal of Armenian Genocide Studies Vol 3, No 1, 2016, 105-115.
  • The early history of religion (dis)proving its truth. The historical argument in Theodore Abū Qurrah and ʿAbd al-Jabbār  Approaching religion, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2018, 27‒39.

  • Deacons in Acts of Thomas and related Syriac Literature ‒ Deacons and Diakonia in Early Christianity: The First Two Centuries. Mohr Siebeck 2018, 227–243.

  • Angels in the Life of Adam and Eve and Syriac Testament of Adam  Life of Adam and Eve: Using Jewish Traditions and Confronting Gnostic Reversed Exegesis.  Åbo Akademi University 2019, 143‒175

  • Anathematized Church fathers ‒ a gateway to ecumenism? Review of Ecumenical Studies 11, issue 1, 2019. DOI:

  • Forsaken or not? Patristic argumentation on the forsakenness of Jews revisited Review of Ecumenical Studies 2/2019

  • Liturgical Representations of Jerusalem in Eastern Christian Traditions ‒  Understanding Spiritual Meaning of Jerusalem in Three Abrahamic Religions, Leiden: Brill 2019, 139-160.

Translations from Syriac into Finnish

  • Acts of Thomas
  • Odes of Solomon
  • Psalms of Solomon
  • Ephrem the Syrian, Paradise Hymns
  • Isaac the Syrian, Complete Works
  • John of Dalyatha, Letters
  • anthology of teachings on spirituality
  • anthology of teachings on paradise
  • Aristide of Athens, Apology

Other translations

  • Theodore Abu Qurra, On the veneration of Icons
  • John Chrysostom, Homilies on John
  • Athenagoras of Athens, Embassy

Popular articles in Finnish

  • circa two hundred of them. Learn the language and enjoy!

Other publishing activities

  • Editor and co-translator of the Finnish Synaksarion, collection of lives of Orthodox Saints, both eastern and western (10 volumes published, circa 500 pages each, two to go)
  • Member of the team working for a Finnish Orthodox Menologion
  • Öster om Ararat – En bok om skönhetens och lidandets Armenien. A book about Armenian culture (2017), in Swedish language! 

Forthcoming books and articles

  • Angels in the Second Century Christian–Jewish Polemics
  • Angels in the metaphysical spirituality of Moshe Chayim Luzzatto

  • Jews and Judaizers of Antioch behind John Chrysostom’s Adversus Judaeos


"But I did not write long, lest it be wearying,
This much suffices for the lovers of the word."

  – Arakel of Siunik, 14th century





Education and degrees

  • Master of arts, Helsinki 1996
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Helsinki 2002

Academic career

  • Lecturer, University of Joensuu, 2003
  • Lecturer, University of Helsinki 2005-06
  • Professor of Orthodox systematic theology and patristics, University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu) 2007-

Scientific Expert Positions and Board Memberships

  • The Finnish Graduate School of Theology, board member (2009-2011)
  • The Finnish Patristic Society, Societas Patristica Fennica, board member (2012-), vice chairman (2017-)
  • Finnish Institute in the Middle East, vice board member


  • Christian Book of the Year 2007 Award (Vapaus)
  • Orthodox favourite book of all times by "Aamun Koitto" voters (Tie ylösnousemukseen)

Highlights of Life


  • A glass of Urts in Kapan

  • Bookstores of Mea Shearim




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