Socio-Cognitive Perspectives on Early Judaism and Early Christianity

The cognitive science of religion has been developed mainly among scholars of comparative religion from the beginning of the 1990s. It draws on cognitive science, cognitive and developmental psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and anthropology. Recently also some Biblical scholars have started to apply theories developed in these fields.

Cognitive psychology and the so-called social identity approach within social psychology provide ample interfaces for such multidisciplinary cooperation. In spite of the growing number of internationally recognised Nordic scholars and research in these fields, there has not been much intra-Nordic cooperation.

The network focuses on two methodologically progressive areas of religious studies: The cognitive science of religion and the application of cognitive sciences in general (especially cognitive psychology, cognitive linguistics) and social-scientific, especially the social identity approach to early Christianity and early Judaism.

Four related research questions are:

  1. The role of rituals in the formation and long-term survival of religious communities
  2. The role of cross-culturally recurrent moral intuitions in the formation of ethical norms of religious communities
  3. Cognitive foundations of social identities and moral behaviour in the context of ingroup/outgroup interaction
  4. The role of language and rhetoric in the creation and sustenance of communities and their typical discourse and moral
Facts about the project
Project leader

Petri Luomanen, University of Helsinki, Finland