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Lauri Thurén, Professor of Biblical Studies

Contact information:
• School of Theology
Philosophical Faculty
University of Eastern Finland
PB 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland
• phone +358 294 45 2727
• email lauri.thuren (at)


Personal information

  • Born 1961
  • Spouse Tiia Thurén, MA, KM
  • Eight children, born 1985–2010, eight grandchildren

Research interests

Οὐδὲ γὰρ δεῖ τὰ ῥήματα γυμνὰ ἐξετάζειν, ἐπεὶ πολλὰ ἕψεται τὰ ἁμαρτήματα· 

οὐδὲ τὴν λέξιν καθ' ἑαυτὴν βασανίζειν, ἀλλὰ τῇ διανοίᾳ προσέχειν τοῦ γράφοντος. John Chrysostom, Ad Gal., 10

  • The parables of Jesus as argumentation

    When reading the parables, one should know nothing more and nothing less than the audience to whom the evangelist was writing. They ought to be studied as pieces of persuasion, as reflecting the interaction between the characters in the existing text. Therefore, I want to identify their meaning and function based on recent developments in modern rhetorical criticism, narratological studies, and modern argumentation analysis.

  • Rhetorical and epistolographical interpretation of the New Testament
  • Pauline theology

    Paul’s fame as the most influential thinker in Early Christianity is hardly due to his doctrinal insights alone. He succeeded in presenting novel religious ideas in a highly persuasive manner. After focusing for centuries on the theology, it is important that we are also re-discovering his rhetoric. The two are so closely interwoven that they can hardly be understood separately.

  • Catholic epistles
  • Early Christian ethics
  • Popularizing Biblical studies

Research projects

Parables as Persuasive Narratives

Our values and action are shaped by narratives. The parables of Jesus belong to the most influential of them. But the interpretations are contradictory, as we do not know how they function. This project aims at cracking the code of the parables.

8 supervised doctoral dissertations

  • Mika Hietanen, Paul's Argumentation in Galatians: A Pragma-dialectical Analysis of Gal. 3.1–5.12 (Åbo Akademi University) 2005
  • Mikael Sundkvist, The Christian Laws in Paul: Reading the Apostle with Early Greek Interpreters (University of Joensuu) 2008
  • Timo Flink, Textual Dilemma: Studies in the Second Century Text of the New Testament (University of Joensuu) 2009
  • Gerson Mgaya, Spiritual Gifts: A Sociorhetorical Interpretation of 1 Cor 12–14 (University of Eastern Finland) 2014
  • Niilo Lahti, The Maneuvering Paul: A Pragma-Dialectical Analysis of Paul's Argumentation in First Corinthians 4:18–7:40 (University of Eastern Finland) 2017 
  • Jaakko Pappinen, Functions of Satan in Early Christianity (University of Eastern Finland) 2017
  • Kaisa Puustinen, "Jumala pyörähti pari tanssiaskelta" – lastenraamatut funktionaalisen ekvivalenssin valossa (University of Eastern Finland) 2020
  • Leena Hartus, Dynamic Equivalence and Theological Terms in Bible Translations. With Special Reference to ‘Righteousness’, ‘Flesh’, and ‘in Christ’ (University of Eastern Finland) 2020

80 supervised master's theses


New Testament translation into Finnish

Forthcoming books and articles

  • Money Can Buy Me Love – The Origins of Early Christian Diaconia
  • The Rhetoric of First Peter
  • Breaking the Code of Jesus's Parables with Argumentation Analysis
  • How Good Works are Motivated

Education and degrees

  • Matriculation examination 1979, Turku
  • Master of Theology 1984, Åbo Akademi University
  • Licentiate of Theology 1988, Åbo Akademi University
  • Certificate of Special Studies 1988, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley CA
  • Doctor of Theology 1990, Åbo Akademi University
  • Docent in Biblical exegesis, especially New Testament 1994, University of Joensuu
  • Docent in New Testament exegesis 1995, Åbo Akademi University
  • Ordained minister 1985, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
  • Studies in Biblical Exegesis 1984–1987, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Studies in Greek and Roman Literature 1979–1986, University of Turku
  • Studies in Academic Leadership 2009, University of Kuopio

Working career

  • 1983–1992 Student Pastor, Turku
  • 1985, 1991 Assistant, Biblical Studies, Åbo Akademi University
  • 1988 Research Fellow Institute of Comparative Religions, Åbo Akademi University
  • 1987–Teacher in Comparative Religion, University of Turku
  • 1987–1988 Fulbright Grantee, GTU, Berkeley, CA
  • 1993 Research Fellow, Finnish Cultural Foundation
  • 1994–2000 Junior/Senior Research Fellow, Academy of Finland
  • 1996–1997 Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence, Academy of Finland
  • 2000–2002 Senior Lecturer, Classical Languages and Biblical Exegesis, University of Joensuu
  • 2001–2002 Professor of Biblical Studies (temporary) University of Joensuu
  • 2002–2010 Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Joensuu
  • 2002–2003 Senior Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence, Academy of Finland
  • 2010– Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Eastern Finland
  • 2010–2011 Senior Research Fellow, Academy of Finland

Scientific expert positions and board memberships

  • Peer Review, Professorship in New Testament, Åbo Akademi University 2006
  • Peer Review, Professorship in New Testament, EELK Usuteaduse Institut, Tallinn, Estonia 2006
  • Peer Review, Professorship in New Testament, University of Lund, Sweden 2007
  • SNTS Committee for Eastern Europe, Board Member 2006–
  • Finnish Graduate School of Theology / The Finnish Doctoral Programme of Theology, Board Member 2003–
  • The Swedish Research Council, Committee for Religious Knowledge, Ancient History, Classical Archaeology, non-European Languages and Cultures 2008–2010
  • Ministry of Education, Coordinator for Theology 2004–2010

Scientific positions of trust and administration

  • Vice Dean, Faculty of Theology, University of Joensuu, 2002–2003
  • Dean, Faculty of Theology, University of Joensuu, 2003–2009
  • Dean, Philosophical Faculty, University of Eastern Finland, 2008
  • Head of Department, Department of Theology, University of Eastern Finland, 2009
  • Project Leader, Centre of Excellence in Biblical Studies, Academy of Finland, 1997–2005
  • Council of Department of Exegetics, member, Åbo Akademi University, 1994–1998
  • Council of the Theological Faculty, Vice-Member, Åbo Akademi University 1994–1996
  • Department Council, member (Orthodox theology), University of Joensuu, 2002–2005
  • Department Council, member (Western theology) University of Joensuu, 2002–2005
  • Member of Societas Novi Testamenti Studiorum (SNTS) 1996–
  • Member of International Society for the Study of Argumentation (ISSA) 2000–
  • Member of Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

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