‘The Wisest Man in the East’

The Aesthetics of Gospel Rap Music within the Emotional Regimes of Finnish Evangelical Christianity





Evangelicalism, Finland, Christian Music, ethnography, emotions, rap music


This article presents an ethnographic analysis of the performance of gospel rap music as part of Evangelical Christian youthwork in Finland. The article is based on my observations of six onsite and five online events that featured gospel rap music in their line-up, as well as interviews with nine musicians and three event organizers. I address the relationship between the aesthetics of gospel rap music and the emotional regimes of Finnish Evangelical Christianity. I define ‘emotional regimes’ here as cultural, social, and material practices that set normative rules for the expression of collective emotions. I conclude that light-hearted humour and irony are prevalent emotional moods in these Christian rap performances in Finland. The article shows how the emotional sequencing around gospel rap music at these Christian events conforms with the general individualistic and therapeutic emotional cultures of late modern societies. Yet I show how some gospel rappers are also self-critical of this individualism and the spectacular nature of these music events and use self-irony and parody as social commentary tools in their performances. Irony in gospel rap performances also opens opportunities for theological innovations and a reflection of social differences.

Author Biography

Tuomas Järvenpää, University of Eastern Finland

is Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Eastern Finland.




How to Cite

Järvenpää, T. (2023). ‘The Wisest Man in the East’: The Aesthetics of Gospel Rap Music within the Emotional Regimes of Finnish Evangelical Christianity. Temenos - Nordic Journal for the Study of Religion, 59(2), 207–229. https://doi.org/10.33356/temenos.122051