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Risto Santala

Born 1929

Risto Santala
Risto Santala, summer 2001
Photo: Jussi Mursula


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Risto Santala is a well-known Finnish author in the field of Judaism and rabbinical literature. He studied theology at the University of Helsinki and was ordained as a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland in 1953. He first worked as a youth pastor in Helsinki and then in the Scandinavian Sailor's Church in Haifa, Israel. In 1957 he became a teacher and pastor in the Hebrew boarding school of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, Shalhevet Yah, in Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem was born Santala's first book, Pieni astia Pyhässä maassa (1960), a biography of his son Ismo, who passed away as a child. In 1968 Santala returned to Finland and worked as principal of the Bible School of Helsinki for seven years. During these years he had the opportunity to study more Bible and the rabbinical literature.

Between 1975-1986 he worked again in Israel. During these years he wrote his best known studies, The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings and The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings, both written in modern Hebrew. It has been said that The Messiah in the Old Testament is the first study written in modern Hebrew by a gentile scholar.

From 1987 Santala worked as a vicar of Joutjärvi parish in Lahti, Finland, until 1992 when he retired on an active pension, continuing his literary and teaching work. Over the years Santala has written over twenty books; many of them have also been translated to various languages (see the bibliography).

Risto Santala's "Messiah" studies have been translated into Finnish, English, German, Estonian, Russian and Chinese. The English translations and the study Paul The Man and the Teacher in the Light of Jewish Sources can also be read on Harri Jussila's home page: <>.

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