The tale of a doctoral student in the Faculty of Theology with influence on his path by two Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence’s

Ossi Arpe is a doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Theology doctoral program at the University of Helsinki. He is doing a monograph dissertation on Iranian influence on the Dead Sea scrolls text corpus, focusing on the influence’s historical context.

This blog covers Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellences from a student's perspective in faculty of theology and later as a member of those centres such as Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions 2014-2020 and Ancient Near Eastern Empires 2018-2025. Center of Excellence is a 30-50-member research unit funded by Academy of Finland and part of the University of Helsinki or other academic institution.

My studies in the faculty of theology were affected in numerous ways by the centre of excellence Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions (CSTT) that began during the third year of my studies in 2014. I participated in many courses held by researchers from CSTT who would not have otherwise been giving classes in the faculty's curriculum. From these courses, I became acquainted with Docent Mika Pajunen and Professor Jutta Jokiranta. They invited me to participate in many conferences or workshops held by CSTT in Helsinki during 2013–17. Their support in this way convinced me to pursue doctoral studies after graduation.

After my graduation in the spring of 2017, I was still planning to become a doctoral student. I discussed my potential doctoral studies plans with Tuukka Kauhanen during the summer of that year, but he obtained an Academy research fellow's position. As a result of that change in his position, I instead became employed as a technical assistant in his Septuagint project on the critical edition of the biblical book Second Samuel starting in September of 2017. Due to my employment, until March of 2019, I became an unofficial member of the CSTT as Tuukka was a vice-team leader there. Thus, while working in his project, I became close with multiple members of CSTT and came to understand what kind of benefits membership in a centre of excellence offers and how nice of a research community it could be for a doctoral student.

My path to my current doctoral studies became in earnest in early 2018, when I first discussed my new research plans with the PI Saana Svärd of the centre of excellence Ancient Near Eastern Empires. After that, I applied to join the ANEE in their spring call for doctoral students.  As a result of my application, I became a member of ANEE team two led by Jason Silverman in August 2018. I started my postgraduate studies at the start of 2020 when I got the right for doctoral studies from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki. The ANEE membership greatly helps my motivation to write a dissertation since it is a very nice research community. I have also received help for my research plans and working grant funding applications from ANEE.

I am now writing my dissertation on the second year of my doctoral studies. My supervisors are docent and ANEE team leader Jason Silverman in Helsinki and Professor Albert de Jong in the University of Leiden, Netherlands.