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  • Personal backgound to research about "diakonia"

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My way to diakonia

It was Bengt Ingmar Kilström who asked me to cooperate in his book about the Christian charitative work in the Nordic counties (B.I.Kilström: Kyrka och diakoni I-II, 1987). After that book I was asked to make a research about the views of Christian charitative work by priests, deaconal workers and some lay people in the ev.luth. church in Finland (Ryökäs: Diakonianäkemysemme, 1990). The result was that there exists three or four ways to understand the meaning of that work of the parish, which in German has the name "Diakonie".

After some years I noticed, that Anders Bäckström had got almost identical results (with four classes) in Sweden (A.Bäckström et al.: För att tjäna, 1994). This raised the question: why? I had the possibility to look deeper into the education of deaconesses and deacons in Finland (E.Ryökäs: Oppiiko diakonian?, 2000). But it was not the education which could give the answer why it is so. In contrary, the students had difficulties to understand the content of "Diakonie", too.

I tried to go deeper and made an analysis about the dogmatic elements, which we have to think when we are discussing this topic (E.Ryökäs: Kokonaisdiakonia, 2006). The result was about 20 dogmatic topics, but none of them explained why we have so many different views.

Sven-Erik Brodd gave me the idea to look into John N. Collins' book "Diakonia. Re-interpreting ancient sources" (1990). It has helped me to ask other questions. I suddenly found an important text of Theodor Fliedner. He describes the origin of "diakonie" in the old texts, and I checked the cited texts. Only very few of them were correct (E.Ryökäs: Zur Begründung der Diakonie bei Theodor Fliedner, Diakonische Einblicke, DWI, 2011). Now I have got the idea, why we have so many different views of diakonia.

I have tested my hypothesis with an analysis of some other sources, too. It seems to be a common fact that the writers believe to see his or her own view of diakonia in the old texts. I have made an analysis about Paul Philippi (Diaconia - A Make-Believe Which Continues? Diaconia. Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice.) and many Finnish writers of the 20 th century (forthcoming, I hope). The modern text tells us that the ancient writers have a view of deacons, but the old text tells us another story.

What we need is to go "ad fontes". Therefore, we need the project about diaconia which I pointed out here.

Homepage of Esko Ryökäs

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