Serafim Seppälä, Professor of Systematic Theology and Patristics
• School of Theology
University of Eastern Finland
PB 111, FI-80101
+358 294 45 2708
serafim.seppala (at) uef.fi
School of Theology Home Pages
Currently in Theology in Joensuu
- 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.
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 projects
- 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
Master's theses (in Joensuu)
- Systematic Theology and Patristic is here
- 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. https://journal.fi/ar/issue/view/5345
Deacons in Acts of Thomas and related Syriac Literature.‒ Deacons and Diakonia in Early Christianity: The First Two Centuries. Mohr Siebeck 2018, 227–243.
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
- 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
Liturgical Representations of Jerusalem in Eastern Christian Traditions
Angels in the Life of Adam and Eve and Syriac Testament of Adam
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
- 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