Cand.Philosophy, Helsinki University, 1956. M.Philosophy, Helsinki University, 1957. License Philosophy, Helsinki University, 1958.
Doctor of Philosophy, Helsinki University, 1959. Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa, Abo Akademi, Turku, Finland, 1978.
Honko was a disciple of Martti Haavio. The title of his doctoral dissertation was Krankheitsprojektile. Untersuchung über eine urtümliche Krankheitserklärung (Disease Projectiles: A Study of the Primitive Explanation of Disease, 1959) at the University of Helsinki and developed a special typology for the analysis of ethnographic data in folk medicine.
Here he put the Finnish folk tradition explanation of illness and healing into a global perspective and found distinct features and differences in geographical regions.
Honko’s seminal work, Geisterglaube in Ingermanland (Belief in Spirits in Ingria) was very influential for Finnish folklorists because it set apart the old and new science of religion. Honko also interpreted the experience of guardian spirits in Ingrian peasant society by developing a genre-analytic and role-model theory.
In Geisterglaube in Ingermanland he classified rituals into three main categories: rites of passage, calendrical rites, and crisis rites. Honko even stresses the importance of analyzing rituals within cultural context and the need to differentiate between small-scale and complex systems of belief.
In 1961 Honko became an assistant professor in folklore studies and comparative religion.
In 1963 he was an associate professor in both subjects at the University of Turku. In 1971 he received a special seat. In 1996 he was named professor emeritus.
Lauri Honko also became the head of the Nordic Institute of Folklore (NIF) in Turku in 1972.
From 1974 to 1989 he was president of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research and then also the editor of Folklore Fellows’ Communications. He was the editor of Temenos from 1965 to 1969 and from 1975 to 1990, of NIF Newsletters from 1972 onwards, and of Studia Fennica from 1981 to 1989.
During the 1980s and 1970s, Honko compared popular traditions and developed a research methodology.
(Over a period of fifteen years, the authors of this beaut...)
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Member Finnish Society for Study of Comparative Religion (chairman 1969-1990), International Society for Folk-Narrative Research (president 1974-1989), Finnish Literature Society (president 1975-1988), Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters (board directors since 1987, president 1989-1990, Kalevala award 1962), Norsk Vitenskapsakademi (correspondent), Academia Europaea (London), Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademi (Uppsala).
Married Märta Gunhild Sjögren, November 1, 1958. 1 children: Pentti; married Raili Anneli Peräniitty, November 16, 1989.