Gerd Lüdemann: A Declaration of Solidarity

Gerd Lüdemann: A Declaration of Solidarity

"The Supreme Court of Germany has ruled that even in Protestant Theological Faculties in Germany the creed of the church overrides the academic freedom of a professor of theology. I feel deeply ashamed of my own alma mater of Göttingen which claims to be an enlightenment-University."
Gerd Lüdemann

Gerd Lüdemann, Professor of the History and Literature of Early
Christianity in the University of Göttingen, has received word from the Federal Constitutional Court in Germany that his appeal against an earlier ruling excluding him from the teaching of New Testament in the University's Faculty of Theology has been rejected. The basis for the Court's ruling hinges on the fact that Professor Lüdemann was "reassigned" to a position outside the Faculty offering essentially the same teaching and research opportunities as his previous position. In addition, the Court decided that the confessional teaching of theology is a unique responsibility of the Theology Faculty and that its interest in retaining a distinctive identity outweighed Professor Lüdemann's claim that the reassignment impinged on his academic ("scientific") freedom.
One can imagine no other area of serious study in the modern university where such a rule should be permitted to stand, or be used as the basis of a legal judgment. This case throws into bold relief the problematical nature of the association between Christian theology and scholarship as it is still protected by law primarily in Germany and to a lesser degree in the United Kingdom, Austria, and Switzerland.
Rooted in the political compromises of the Reformation, the structure of European theological education should become a matter of concern and a priority for reform by the educational commission of the European Union. It is an untenable position that institutions of higher learning, devoted as they are to the cultivation of knowledge through the use of established scientific methodologies, can fulfill their mission as long as particular faculties are immune from equivalent standards of rigorous inquiry, or where academic freedom is limited by confessional ideology and protected from scrutiny by tradition.
The undersigned fellows of the *Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion* wish to express their solidarity with Professor Gerd Lüdemann for his courageous stance in this matter, and hope that his case will bring about a process of examination and reform in those places where religious ideology can be used to thwart the higher ends to which universities are dedicated.

The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion

R. Joseph Hoffmann, Chair
Arthur Bellinzoni, Wells College
Richard Carrier, Author and Commentator
Bruce Chilton, Bard College
Allison Coudert, University of California at Davis
James Crossley, University of Sheffield
Hermann Detering, Editor, Translator
Arthur J. Droge, University of Toronto
Robert H. Eisenman, California State University Long Beach
J. Harold Ellens, University of Michigan
Bernard Farr, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Louis Feldman, Yeshiva University
Gary Greenberg, President of the Biblical Archaeology Society
Van Harvey, Stanford University
Ingrid Hjelm, University of Copenhagen
R. Joseph Hoffmann, Goddard College
Naomi Janowitz, University of California at Davis
Paul Kurtz, State University of New York, Buffalo
Niels Peter Lemche, University of Copenhagen
Dennis MacDonald, Claremont Graduate School
Burton L. Mack, Wesley Professor emeritus in early Christianity at Claremont School of Theology
Angie McAllister McQuaig
Justin Meggitt, Cambridge University
Emanuel Pfoh, National University of LaPlata (Argentina)
Robert M. Price, Author; Editor, Journal of Higher Criticism
James Robinson, Claremont Graduate University
Richard E. Rubenstein, George Mason University
Solomon Schimmel, Hebrew College
James Tabor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Robert Tapp, University of Minnesota
Thomas L. Thompson, University of Copenhagen
David Trobisch, Bangor School of Theology
Thomas Verenna, Writer
Frank Zindler, Writer, Editor

Amherst, N.Y. USA
February 24, 2009

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