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Statement (10.02.1999)

of the Dean in regard to the academic position to be held by Professor Dr. Gerd Lüdemann

On December 17, 1998, the President of the Georgia Augusta University of Göttingen, Prof.Dr. Horst Kern, made known the following decision which was confirmed on February 4, 1999, by the Minister for Arts and Sciences in Lower Saxony, Thomas Oppermann, after due consultation with the said President, the Dean of the Theological Faculty, and the representatives of the Confederation of Evangelical Churches in Lower Saxony, all of whom gave their consent:

Effective immediately, Prof.Dr. Gerd Lüdemann is being assigned the field of "History and Literature of Early Christianity" for his teaching and research. While Prof. Lüdemann remains affiliated with the Theological Faculty, his status is affected as follows:

  1. The reassignment of Prof. Lüdemann's position in New Testament Studies entails a detachment from the "Vereinigte Theologische Seminare" (United Theology Departments) and relocation in the Institute for Special Studies and Research.

  2. Courses taught by Prof. Lüdemann are to be explicitely identified as "outside of the programs of study required for the training of future ministers of the Church, including the field of Christian Education."

    The Dean of the Theological Faculty releases the following statement:

    1. This decision was made necessary not because of specific critical statements or claims of research by Prof. Lüdemann but because he has denied the scholarly validity of Protestant theology and thus no longer sees his mission as the preparation of students seeking to become ministers of the Church.

    2. Prof. Lüdemann did not see fit to take the obvious step of resigning from his position in the Protestant Theological Faculty, whose purpose he no longer acknowledges or supports. His colleagues, the professors belonging to our Faculty, have asserted repeatedly - the last such meeting having taken place on December 12, 1998 - that with his statements and claims made in public, Prof. Lüdemann has in fact placed himself outside of our Faculty.

    3. The Ministry for Arts and Sciences (Ministerium) in Hannover has demonstrated its concurrence in that, as early as the summer of 1998, it authorized a replacement in the form of a new Chair of New Testament Studies. This was done in accordance with the church-state agreement (Loccumer Vertrag) to provide the instruction necessary for the academic training of students of theology, which is no longer being offered by Prof. Lüdemann.

    4. This decision as it stands, determined by the President of the University of Göttingen and confirmed by the Minister for Arts and Sciences in Hannover, was reached only after it had become clear that the Philosophical Faculty at the University of Göttingen was unwilling to admit Prof. Lüdemann to their membership, and that all other possibilities were either of doubtful legal validity or otherwise impracticable.

    5. While a decision of this kind does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Theological Faculty, the President of the University asked for and received the advice of the professors before stating his decision; the faculty committee let it be known, as of December 14, 1998, that, as matters stand, the Faculty is ready to concur with the President's decision.

    6. At no time has the Faculty sought to restrict the liberties of Prof. Lüdemann. To the contrary, it has concerned itself with the difficult problem, in the resolution of which Prof. Lüdemann has not been cooperative - i.e., the question: In the University system, what kind of place and position can be made available for a professor, who, according to German law, has the irrevocable status of a civil servant, but who at the same time rejects the basic principles of the institution to which he belongs and which he, at the time of his installation as professor, committed himself to serve?

    7. According to the minutes of the Faculty committee meeting of December 14, 1998, this decision represents no more than a make-shift solution ("Notlösung"). This make-shift solution places a heavy burden on all concerned.The Theological Faculty has accepted this decision only because of the stipulation that the academic activities of Prof. Lüdemann are relegated to an area "outside of the programs of study required for the training of future ministers of the Church." The details of this arrangement have yet to be determined.

    8. It is clear from all that has been said that the decision in the case of Prof. Lüdemann does not constitute a precedent in regard to the status of the Protestant Theological Faculty. That no change in status is intended is also made clear by the fact that this make-shift solution will cease with the departure of Prof. Lüdemann as professor at the University of Göttingen.

    9. It is my hope that this make-shift solution will help to restore the atmosphere conducive to research and studies to which our Faculty and students are accustomed, but which has, in recent months, been disrupted by this affair. We are especially grateful that the field of New Testament will be maintained in its former size through the granting of two full professorships.

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Last updated on April 22, 2020
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