Church History

Perspectives from history for today

Continuity and change

What do Finnish sleeping preachers have to do with medieval mystics? How did Martin Luther and the Reformations change Christian anthropology? Why is the traditional division into four Finnish revival movements problematic? How does Pope Francis I differ from his predecessors in his action? Answers to, for instance, these kinds of questions are sought within church history. 

As a discipline, church history is in close contact with several other disciplines. It overlaps with other historical fields of study, such as political and cultural history and the history of ideas. Church history is also connected to systematic theology. Hence, church history is both theological and historical discipline, and the methodology used is that of historical research. 

Church historians are first and foremost interested in the thinking and actions of people from past to present. Continuity and change are often the perspectives from which the history of churches, culture and societies are examined.


Focus areas of church history

At the University of Eastern Finland, the focus of Western Church History is in the Late Middle Ages and the Reformation era, on the one hand, and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, on the other. Church historical research draw also on advanced extensive multi-disciplinary comparative approach on the various dimensions of secularization. Various phenomena of secularization are reviewed, in particular in the context of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox church.

The examination of the Lutheran tradition from the viewpoint of the Reformation’s longitudinal impacts are strongly represented in the research and teaching of church history. A strong research tradition is also represented by studies on relations between the church and society from the perspective of the ministry's political and social role, the image of the church, and periods of social crisis (1905–1907, 1917–1918, 1939–1944) in the Finnish context.

One emphasis of research in Joensuu has been on regional church history, encompassing Eastern and Northern Finland and the neighboring regions. The history and border area issues of dioceses have been studied at Joensuu from a regional perspective – in particular the dioceses of Kuopio and Oulu. Comparative research dedicated to the Cap of the North region has also been carried out. Finnish revival movements and the history of the social work of the church are in the scope of study in Joensuu. 

The phenomena of ecclesiastical history are investigated with a wide perspective: from the viewpoint of institutions and politics as well as that of individuals, gender, and the history of everyday life. 


From basic to advanced studies

Basic studies in Church History give a solid general grounding in church history as a scientific field of research, and ecclesiastical history is discussed both from the international and Finnish perspectives. You will learn how to formulate historical research questions and conduct independent data acquisition.

During intermediate studies, you will learn how to apply methods of research and grasp the phenomena in the Church History field, especially from the Late Middle Ages to the Modern era.

During advanced studies, you will focus on a single extensive research question in preparation for your Master's thesis.


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