Looking for something specific? Use our search engine!

Press Release

Press Release

Doctoral Thesis on how the Jacob Story of Genesis was interpreted and used in the Book of Jubilees

Topias Tanskanen
Topias Tanskanen


Master of Theology Topias Tanskanen’s doctoral thesis in Old Testament Exegetics will be put forth for public defence at The Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at Åbo Akademi University. 

The thesis is entitled Jacob, the Torah, and the Abrahamic Promise: Studies on the Use and Interpretation of the Jacob Story in the Book of Jubilees.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on 30 May 2023, at 2 PM in the Armfelt auditorium, Arken, Tehtaankatu 2, Turku. Professor, Loren Stuckenbruck, LMU München, Germany, will serve as opponent and Professor Antti Laato, Åbo Akademi University, as custos. You can also follow the defence online.



The dissertation examines how the Old Testament, especially Genesis, was interpreted in early Judaism. The focus is on the Book of Jubilees (c. 170–150 BCE), which is one of the most important early Jewish texts, although less known in Finland. The book can be taken as an example of “Rewritten Bible,” a process where biblical stories are modified with new interpretations. The study focuses on how the Jacob Story of Genesis was interpreted and used in Jubilees. 

The results show that the author interpreted Jacob as the perfect Israelite who exemplifies what it is like to follow the Mosaic Torah to the utmost. Jacob is especially associated with the stipulations of the Book of Deuteronomy, which are often addressed to “Israel.” Israel is also Jacob’s name. In Jubilees, Jacob thus follows the Deuteronomic commandments. 

When Jacob fulfils the Torah, he is also the true heir of the Abrahamic Promise (Gen 12:1–3 and par.). The promise or promises are also given new interpretations so that especially the universalistic features are particularized, e.g., the interpretation that other nations would be blessed through Abraham (important in the New Testament) is interpreted so that only Israel will be blessed. The author looked forward to a time when Israel would follow the Torah and as a result would rule over the whole world. Instead of many people coming from Jacob, every people will be ruled by Jacob and his children. The Promise is also conditional. Everything depends on whether the Torah is followed, like Jacob, or not. 

Jubilees provides a contrast to, e.g., apostle Paul’s interpretation of the Abrahamic Promise in Romans 4 and Galatians 3. The study sheds light on the interpretive traditions and ways to interpret in the 2nd century BCE, and thus widens our understanding of early Judaism. Understanding how these stories were interpreted in the Antiquity benefits, e.g., New Testament, Jewish Studies and modern religious dialogue where these stories still play a central role. 



Topias Tanskanen was born in 1992, in Lempäälä. He can be reached by phone +358 50 313 4722 or email topias.tanskanen@abo.fi. 


The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive. 

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.   


Instructions on how to follow the doctoral defence remotely

To follow the defence, you need the Zoom software or the Google Chrome browser. You do not need to create a Zoom account to follow the defence. If you install the application, you participate by clicking on the meeting link, after which you should allow the link to open in the Zoom app.