Nissinen, Martti: Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions, University of Helsinki

The Centre of Excellence is interested in studying how cultural upheavals in the Middle East have influenced the creation and evolution of canonical sacred texts – and vice versa. The text in the main focus of the research is the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament. The CoE's four research teams, consisting of scholars of the Old and New Testaments, Assyriologists and archaeologists, all approach the subject in hand from different angles. The aim is to bring together these diverse perspectives and to achieve completely novel results.

The research examines the processes and mechanisms of historical change at both the micro and macro levels. The changes concerned range from minute discrepancies between texts, manuscripts and translations to profound social, political, religious and demographic changes that have shaken nations. The focus is on the purpose, sacredness and permanence of the texts. The CoE is also interested in comparing different historical versions and translations of the Old Testament. Even the smallest changes made over the years may have led to major disparities in interpretations.

The mission of the CoE is to constantly question and challenge old notions and to go back all the way to the foundation stone of religion. The goal is also to be able to contribute to raising public awareness and knowledge. The CoE's research community is characterised first and foremost by collaboration. It has succeeded in creating a comprehensive and active international network of partners including leading universities and research communities in the fields of both theology and ancient history.

Last modified 19 Feb 2015
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