Henrik Johnsén

Henrik Johnsén


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 7
Room E 724
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I'm researcher and senior lecturer at Stockholm University. My research is focused on Christianity, and especially late antique Christian monasticism and its relation to late-antique Greco-Roman philosophy and literary culture, but also Syriac Orthodox Christianity in present-day Sweden. My dissertation dealt with literary issues and questions related to tradition and change in The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus, an early Byzantine monastic text. My research on early monasticism and late antique philosophy was part of a seven-year project “Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia”, funded by Riksbankens jubileumsfond.

Since 2018 I’m part of a research project on “Integration and Tradition: the Making of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Sweden”, funded by the Swedish Research Council, but also a minor project on monastic maxims literature and literary culture in early Byzantine monasticism. 

2017-2018 Scandinavian guest professor, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
2017 Visiting fellow, Yale University
2009-2016 Post-doc, "Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia", Lund University


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2020. Susan Ashbrook Harvey (et al.).

    Wisdom on the Move explores the complexity and flexibility of wisdom traditions in Late Antiquity and beyond. This book studies how sayings, maxims and expressions of spiritual insight travelled across linguistic and cultural borders, between different religions and milieus, and how this multicultural process reshaped these sayings and anecdotes. Wisdom on the Move takes the reader on a journey through late antique religious traditions, from manuscript fragments and folios via the monastic cradle of Egypt, across linguistic and cultural barriers, through Jewish and Biblical wisdom, monastic sayings, and Muslim interpretations. Particular attention is paid to the monastic Apophthegmata Patrum, arguably the most important genre of wisdom literature in the early Christian world.

  • 2020. Henrik Rydell Johnsén, Thomas Arentzen, Andreas Westergren. Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation, 1-10
  • 2018. Henrik Johnsén. Teachers in Late Antique Christianity
  • 2018. Henrik Johnsén. Studi medievali (1928)

    It is well known that monasticism was crucial to the development of repentance in early Christianity. With monasticism followed a renewal of the earlier practice with great importance for later Christian traditions. But were these changes just an internal development of earlier Christian teaching adjusted to new circumstances? Or were there also new impulses from external sources? In this paper, the teaching on repentance and confession in the Institutes and the Conferences by John Cassian (d. 435) and the Apophthegmata Patrum (from 5th/6th century), is compared with teachings related to the tendency towards the “care of the self” in late antique philosophy. In contrast to scholars who often have underscored the difference between the two traditions, this essay argues that the new monastic contribution to the earlier Christian practice of repentance can to a large extent be explained as adaptions of well-known practices or “technologies of the self” within late antique philosophy. Clement of Alexandria and Origen seems to have been crucial pioneers in this adaption, but traditions of philosophy were also filtered directly into the monastic tradition independently from these earlier Christian authors. 

Show all publications by Henrik Johnsén at Stockholm University

Last updated: June 2, 2020

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