Juha Pentikäinen (born 1940) is a professor in the Department of Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki. With a field-work oriented approach to the study of religious traditions he is especially interested in the oral history of languages, religions and cultures. His research, mostly taking place in interdisciplinary teams such as indigenous peoples, minorities, Finnish emigrant societies and other people themselves as members of the teams has been done in all continents as well as lectures at over 100 universities. The recipient of many awards and honors including the 3rd honorary medal of the international society for research for the lifetime career as the scholar of shamanism in 1999. His publications since 1960 include 30 books, 250 scholarly articles, and 15 films. He has held professorships in Europe and America as well as keynote addresses. In 1995 he was nominated to membership of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.
He is globally renowned for his research in religious traditions in the Finnish culture, and their psychological effects on humans. His respect has led to a number of guest professorships in both the United States and Norway. Along with his professorships, he has appeared to speak at over 100 Universities in numerous different countries. Based upon his work, other professors (i.e. Veikko Anttonen and Nils G. Holm) in his field have analyzed his approach towards the studies of religion. They say that First he looks at the Ethnography of a Religion, then looks at the Regional Phenomenology of the Religions, and lastly he conducts a comparative study of the religious traditions. His form of research has resulted in numerous awards and inductions into societies throughout Finland and the Globe.
He is most known for his book Kalevala Mythology, which is an in depth analysis of Elias Lönnrot's epic Kalevala. He analyzes both the career background and life of Lönnrot. Then he analyzes the epic, and the differences between the two versions that Lonnrot wrote. He reveals the flaws within the epic and presents the argument that the epic instilled a spirit of national romanticism within the Finnish society, which makes it so significant to the Finnish culture.
His uncle was Vilho Pentikäinen, well known communist secret spy who spied against Finland for the Soviet Union.