The 20th Congress of IOSOT 1 - 6 August, 2010


Ms. Jutta Jokiranta, DTh
Congress Secretary
P.O. Box 4
FI−00014 University of Helsinki
E-mail: iosot-2010 AT
phone: +358 9 191 24348

Interviews of IOSOT Main Speakers


On these pages you will find interviews of IOSOT Main Speakers. Who are these scholars? How did they become Biblical scholars? Why should one listen to their papers at IOSOT?

Raija Sollamo, President of IOSOT 2007−2010

SollamoIn theory, Raija Sollamo has been retired from her position as Professor of Biblical Languages for almost three years – but in reality, she still works regularly at the University of Helsinki. As the president of the IOSOT and as the leader of the research project Conflicting Identities – Social and Religious Identities in Light of the Qumran Material from the Judaean Desert,funded by the Academy of Finland, she does not have difficulties filling in her time. However, Sollamo still loves her responsibilities and she gets a lot of joy out of working. 

Raija Sollamo has always been enthusiastic about learning. In school, she dreamed about a career as a teacher. In her first year at the university, she was attracted to biblical languages. Sollamo’s teacher, Ilmari Soisalon-Soininen, encouraged her to continue her studies with languages and led her to become interested in the Septuagint. First, Sollamo had planned on becoming a New Testament major, but in the end, she wrote her master’s thesis and her doctoral thesis about the renderings of Hebrew semiprepositions in the Septuagint. A few years after completing her doctor’s degree, Sollamo was appointed to the position of Associate Professor of Biblical Languages and her hope to work as a teacher was realized. Later on, in addition to teaching and doing research, she has had many administrative duties. 

As a Septuagint scholar, Sollamo was motivated by the idea that she could participate in development of this emergent field of research in Finland. Her expertise on the Septuagint has been of use, for example, when she was working on a new translation of the Bible and the Apocrypha. Later on, she has also been interested in new and dynamic fields: In the 1980’s, she started to make herself familiar with Dead Sea scrolls studies, which became her second specialty. In addition to Septuagint and Qumran studies, exegetical women’s studies have been close to her heart for a long time. This last mentioned interest was inspired by both her personal experiences and several requests to give lectures on women in Bible. When Sollamo began writing her doctoral thesis, there were no female doctoral students or teachers in the Department of Biblical Studies. When beginning professorship, Sollamo was the first female professor in the Faculty of Theology. Later on, she acted as the first chair of the Association for Women's Studies in Finland, the first female Dean in the Faculty of Theology (1992–1998), and the first female Vice Rector in the University of Helsinki (1998–2003).

Raija Sollamo is convinced of the significance of Biblical studies in the third millennium. According to her, the Old Testament has always played, and will always play, an important role in religious communities – among the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. On the other hand, Sollamo considers the Old Testament to be a significant and topical theme for research also on a more general level. The Old Testament texts discuss many questions which are very relevant both now and in the future, like the division between rich and poor people, ethic rules and violations of human rights, intolerance and violence. Sollamo believes that Biblical scholars can contribute a great deal to the discussion of these problems. However, there is no short-cut to solutions. That is why Sollamo likes to emphasize the importance of the basics: the source languages, text history, history, archeology and sound methods come first. These form the basis for high quality research which will have significance also when discussing social problems.

As President of IOSOT, Raija Sollamo has the opportunity to take the floor in the opening ceremony of the congress. In her address, she will discuss her pet subject and ask: Why Translation Technique and Literalness again? This time, the renderings of the infinitive absolutein the Septuagint of Jeremiah are under the spotlight. This study of translation technique helps to understand the peculiar sentence structures of the Septuagint. When this understanding accumulates, it will be possible to give a general description of the syntax of the Septuagint.