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Lars Levi Læstadius' spiritualitet
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, Church and Mission studies, Ecclesiology.
2010 (Bokmål, Norwegian; Norwegian Bokmål)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study has been to be able to discern the core characteristics of the spirituality of Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861), minister of the Church of Sweden and originator of a large revival movement that carries his name. His spirituality is analysed as reflected in his mostly Finnish language sermons, out of which 466 are preserved. It is maintained that an adequate interpretation of the sermons can only be achieved through an understanding of their linguistic and rhetorical style and their principles of biblical exegesis. Accordingly, the initial focus of the study is on these three aspects, after which follows an analysis of the content. The very first chapter, however, investigates the biographical background of Læstadius’ spirituality, in particular the character of his spiritual breakthrough in 1844.

The study shows that Sámi oral culture, in which Læstadius was deeply rooted, is an important factor behind the style and principals of exegesis in his sermons. The sermons are metaphorical and narrative to a large degree. The rhetoric is oriented towards “the spiritual heart” and addresses the emotional life more than the intellectual life. The principals of exegesis have their closest parallel in patristic times, not in the 1800-s. A typological interpretation of the Bible based on a mimetic strategy of reading is dominant.

The study shows that the imagery of the sermons constitutes a cohesive ‘metaphorical universe’. The imagery is organised in ‘constellations of interplay’ in which the Christ figure of the gospels or a metaphor for God, and metaphorical role models for the listeners are depicted. Hermeneutical methods are employed in combination with statistical analysis to determine what constellations are central and how they are used. The four most central constellations are analyzed in detail; they are “the Saviour”, “the Heavenly Parent”, “the Shepherd” and “the Light”, designated according to their name for the triune God. However, “The Heavenly Parent” is Læstadius’ most frequent metaphor for God, and the image of God from which it springs determines his theology and spirituality. ‘Reconciliation’ with ones “Heavenly Parent” is his key concern, and this requires a humble attitude. The study shows that humility is the basic common quality of his prime role models, which means that this quality stands out as the most important ideal of his spirituality. The constellations of interplay show that a mystical experience of reconciliation and of being in God’s presence is Læstadius’ highest aim for his listeners, and thus a prominent characteristic of his spirituality.

As a whole, the study shows that Sámi culture was more important for Læstadius’ spirituality than has hitherto been acknowledged, and that the imagery of his sermons is not a poetic or sentimental expression, but one in which both biblical theology and mystical experience are involved.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Skellefteå: Artos & Norma , 2010. , 491 p.
, Bibliotheca theologiae practicae, ISSN 0519-9859 ; 88
Keyword [en]
Læstadius, Læstadianism, spirituality, mystical spirituality, revival movements, Church of Sweden, Sámi culture, oral literature, homiletics, biblical interpretation, patristics, metaphorical language.
National Category
Religious Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130058ISBN: 978-91-7580-486-6ISBN: 978-91-7580-486-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-130058DiVA: diva2:346084
Public defence
2010-09-24, Universitetshuset, lärosal IV, Uppsala, 10:00 (Norwegian)
Available from: 2010-09-01 Created: 2010-08-30 Last updated: 2010-09-03

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