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Staffan Olofsson

About Staffan Olofsson

Presentation

Staffan Olofsson has been a professor of Old Testament exegetics at the University of Gothenburg since January of 2002. At Uppsala University in 1988 he defended the dissertation God Is My Rock - A Study of Translation Technique and Theological Exegesis in the Septuagint, which analyzes the translation technique and theological exegesis of the Septuagint in search of criteria by which to study the ideological and theological content of Biblical texts; the translations selected for analysis are several epithet for Yahweh. Thus the thesis was focused on methodological issues.

The backbone of Olofsson’s research is his interest in the translation and interpretation of the Bible. His research has primarily concerned the Septuagint, the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament, with an emphasis on problems relating to the translation models that were employed by its translators; largely focusing on the translation of the Psalms, he has presented criteria for assessing the extent to which, and in what respects, the theology of the translators is reflected in their translations. The study of the Septuagint provides a deeper understanding of the problems that can arise when a religious text is translated in terms of a cultural and religious context that differs from the original.

Olofsson’s research is thus characterized by an interest in the intertestamental period. He has also given some attention to religio-historical perspectives and has recently broadened his interests to include literary methods; in this connection, he has embarked upon a narratological and intertextual study of modern Swedish fictional books and their relation to biblical material. Olofsson has conducted all levels of courses on both linguistic and non-linguistic Old Testament Exegetics and currently supervises two doctoral students in this area of study.

Academic degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies, History and History of Religion at Stockholm University 1972
  • Bachelor of Theology at Uppsala University 1978
  • Doctor of Divinity in Old Testament Exegesis at Uppsala University 1988
  • Associate Professor (docent) of Old Testament Exegesis at Uppsala University 1991
  • Professor of Old Testament Exegesis at University of Gothenburg 2002

Employments or longer appointments

Olofsson has served as assistant secretary (1979-1983, 1987-1990) and expert (1996-1998) on the Swedish Bible Translation Committee that produced Bibel 2000. He was a full-time senior research fellow (forskarassistent) of Biblical Studies at Uppsala University from 1990 to 1994 and was employed as a full-time lecturer in Old Testament Exegesis at Uppsala University from summer 1994 to summer of 1995. Olofsson also worked for some months as a full-time lecturer on Old Testament Exegesis at the University of Gothenburg in late 1995 and early 1996, prior to obtaining a position as ordinary lecturer in February 1996. Between mid-1996 and late-1998 Olofsson was on sabbatical, working as an expert for the Bible Translation Committee. In January of 1999 he was reinstated as a full-time lecturer at the University of Gothenburg, and has continued there as professor of Old Testament Exegesis since the beginning of 2002.

Teaching

Olofsson has taught all levels of courses in Old Testament Exegetics as well as elementary courses in New Testament Exegetics. His teaching experience began in 1978 when he was appointed part-time by Stockholm University to teach an elementary-level course in Old Testament Exegetics. While his teaching has been largely conducted at Uppsala University and the University of Gothenburg, Olofsson has also had teaching appointments at Stockholm University, the Theological Seminary of The Mission Covenant Church of Sweden, the Baptist Theological Seminary (Betelseminariet) and the Theological Seminary of the Methodist Church in Gothenburg (Överås). As already mentioned above, he is currently responsible for the supervision of two doctoral students in the area of Old Testament Exegetics.

Beyond this, Olofsson is presently attending a teaching course for experienced academic teachers and has participated in supervisor training. He has lectured on the Septuagint at international Biblical conferences and has spoken at special conferences on translation and translation problems. He has also participated to some extent in Nordic and Swedish conferences for teachers and researchers of the Bible and has given lectures and seminars on the Bible and Biblical translation in churches and other such forums.

Ongoing research

The gathering of final material for Formulaic Language and Word Order in LXX Psalms, a nearly completed monograph that investigates how the Septuagint translator of the Book of Psalms employed stereotyped phrases and word pairs in his translation.

The gathering of material for the preliminarily titled monograph, The Translator of the Book of Psalms in the Septuagint Version: Text, Interpretation and Translation Technique, which describes the translator of the Book of Psalms and examines various aspects of the Septuagint translation of the Psalter, including the Hebrew Vorlage and the original Greek text.

Olofsson is also currently investigating the ways in which the translation work of the Book of Psalms’ Septuagint translator was influenced by the translator of the Pentateuch; the preliminary title of a possible future monograph might be The Dependence and Non-dependence of the Septuagint Translator of the Book of Psalms in Relation to the Pentateuch Translation.

Apart from this, he is working on an article that investigates the textual criticism in Folkbibeln’s Book of Psalms and has already applied for funding with regard to a recently begun examination of the renowned Swedish author Sven Delblanc and his use of religious material, not least from the Bible, to understand suffering and provide comfort. This research is for the “Myth and Fiction” portion of the “Myth and Narrativity Project” and is also part of a project known as Den tröstande läsningen: Religionens och litteraturens samspel i konstruktionen av möjliga världar (The Comforting Reading: the Interaction/Interplay/ between Religion and Literature in the Creation of Imaginative Worlds).

Olofsson is among the contributors to A Commentary on the Septuagint in the series SBL Commentary on the Septuagint (SBLCS), sponsored by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies on the Book of Psalms (Pietersma, Olofsson, Smith, White).

Activities and assignments

Olofsson is a member of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Nathan Söderblomsällskapet, Svenska Exegetiska Sällskapet, the Society of Biblical Literature, and Akademi för bibelvetenskap. He also currently participates in a project to create a Swedish translation of Qumran texts and another to publish a commentary on the Septuagint Psalms (sponsored by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies under the auspices of Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)). Additionally, Olofsson is a peer reviewer for Svensk Exegetisk Årsbok.