Thomas Kazen


Professor of Biblical Studies, ordained minister in the Uniting Church in Sweden
CV & Publications (pdf)
Mässa för mänskor och värld (pdf)

I have been teaching at Stockholm School of Theology since 2002 and since 2010 I am professor of Biblical Studies. Before that, I earned my doctoral degree in Uppsala, where I also taught some undergraduate courses at the Department of Theology. My work in Stockholm is divided between research and teaching and I am director for the doctoral programme in Biblical Studies since its inception in 2017. During the academic year 2012-2013, and during the spring of 2014, I was a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge.

My research interests include the historical Jesus and his Jewish environment, early Christology, the controversial concept “Son of Man,” apocalypticism and apocalyptic language, the encounter between a modern worldview and the Christian faith, and of course, everything that has to do with ritual impurity. My dissertation was about Jesus’ approach to contemporary laws of purity: Jesus and Purity Halakhah: Was Jesus Indifferent to Impurity?, 2002, reprint 2010. I have since published additional books on purity conceptions: Issues of Impurity in Early Judaism, 2010, and a sequel, Impurity in Early Judaism and the Jesus Tradition: Critical Issues and New Directions, is forthcoming in 2021.

My interests in cult and ritual, as well as in questions about body and morality, have pushed me into research projects on emotions and the use of methods and perspectives from a research field called Cognitive Science of Religion. I have, for example, used perspectives from cognitive science for analysing the role of different emotions in biblical legal texts. In the book Emotions in Biblical Law: A Cognitive Science Approach, 2011, I analyse disgust, empathy, fear and a sense of justice in the Pentateuchal legal collections. I have also published several articles in which I use cognitive perspectives to interpret Jewish purity conceptions as well as New Testament texts. Between 2017 and 2021, I work with my colleague Rikard Roitto on a major project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, “Moral Repair in Antiquity.” In this project we analyse and compare ideals, rituals and practices of “moral repair,” such as revenge, reconciliation, and forgiveness, in early Judaism, the emerging Christian movement, and in Greco-Roman culture, with the help of social science and cognitive methods and perspectives. The project will eventually result in a book.

I also find questions about law and legal interpretation in a general interesting. I have written articles on the development of the law and its role in shaping the Pentateuch and the canon, on the interpretation of the law by Jesus and contemporary groups, and on the different theological approaches of the New Testament texts to the Torah. In 2013, I published a book on the conflicts between Jesus and his opponents over the interpretation and application of the law: Scripture, Interpretation, or Authority? Motives and Arguments in Jesus’ Halakhic Conflicts. Eventually, I hope to publish a broader book on the development and interpretation of the Torah.

Several of my research interests came together in a popular science book in Swedish, which was published in 2018. It discusses same-sex sexuality in the world of the Bible: Dirt, Shame, Status: Perspectives on Same-Sex Sexuality in the Bible and Antiquity. The book is being edited and translated into English.

I am also working on a project about apocalyptic language and the meaning and function of such language in the Jesus tradition. The tools are taken partly from Philosophy of Religion theories about the relationship between myth and language, and partly from a metaphor theory called “conceptual blending.” Hopefully this will also result in a book in due time.

I am responsible for the Tro & Liv Bibel (Faith & Life Bible) series. In 2020, Biblical Studies at University College Stockholm launched this pamphlet series for biblical research in dialogue with church and society to raise issues around faith and human life. The series’ titles are free to download and can be purchased online as paperbacks at a low cost. In 2021, I will publish a small booklet in the series: Ethics and Rhetoric in the Jesus Tradition.

In addition to books, I have written about 50 articles and various book reviews. If you want to see a list of publications and various other things, you can click on the link above.

Before I began doing research and teaching, I worked as a pastor in the Swedish Mission Covenant Church, in a rural setting as well as in the Stockholm region. I was engaged in scouting, in the place of children and young people in the congregation, and in liturgical development. I published a collection of liturgical material for worship in the late 90’s, Who Are You God? We want to believe in you!, and for some years I was also involved in a group that worked in parallel with and on behalf of the Swedish Mission Covenant Church’s handbook committee. The result was the worship book Building Blocks, a collection of materials to be used as a complement to the handbook., which I edited together with Sofia Camnerin, who is now a vice president at University College Stockholm. I was also a member of the theological committee of the Swedish Mission Covenant Church, until it merged with Baptists and Methodists. In Märsta, where I live, I chair Sätunakyrkan, formerly an ecumenical Methodist and Mission Covenant congregation. Nowadays everything is the Uniting Church in Sweden and nowadays I am a member of its theological council.

I preach now and then and occasionally lecture elsewhere on various issues. I have a passion for questions of biblical interpretation and hope to share tools that make it easier to access the contents of biblical texts. I would like to help bridging the gap between ancient historical texts and our time and world, making the texts come alive and become relevant today.

After an active period in the Christian Peace Movement in the 1980s, I carry with me an interest in social issues, not least issues of justice and human relations. I am convinced that both faith and life must always be political, in the sense that they try to counter and transform all those structures that prevent and obstruct human well-being and community. Ultimately, this is also the task of the academy, since knowledge and analysis by necessity unmask reality and open our eyes.

I play music at times and occasionally write a song or a hymn. At the beginning of 2020, I composed a mass with my own lyrics and music: Mass for humans and the world. You are welcome to download it if you wish. When I have free time, a phenomenon that mainly occurs in the summers, I grow vegetables in my garden in Västmanland together with my wife and pick as many berries as I can in the forest.



Book Chapters

Edited Books



  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jehezkel. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jekabzeel. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jekameam. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jekamiah.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jekuthiel. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jered. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2016. Jeremoth. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Kazen, Thomas, 2015. Purity / Impurity. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers.