I have been an admirer of the work of Anthony Le Donne for a few years now, and I have read with profit his Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (and what a fine use of the Oxford comma in that title!) and his recent, shorter Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know it?, which is a great way to spend a couple of hours stimulating your thinking. I was present at a great session at the SBL a couple of years ago that focused on Anthony's first book. And we were delighted to publish in the Library of New Testament Studies the book he co-edited with Tom Thatcher, The Fourth Gospel in First Century Media Culture.
Anthony is an original thinker, a fine scholar and an obvious star of the future. I was really shocked, therefore, to hear that Lincoln Christian University recently terminated his employment, apparently because of some perceived problem with his recent book on the Historical Jesus. It makes no sense to me that an institution that uses the name of "university" would do something so stupid and so damaging to its reputation. Nothing good can come of this. I offered my sympathies to Anthony privately when I first heard about this several weeks ago, but now that it is public information, I wish to make a public statement of how disgusted I am by this folly.
I mentioned to Anthony and to Chris Keith that in the light of this action, I would not be willing to participate in the planned conference on Jesus, Criteria and the Demise of Authenticity, scheduled for October, if it were to take place at Lincoln Christian University. I am pleased to hear that there are now plans to host the conference elsewhere, and I do hope that those plans will come to fruition.
Many other bloggers have commented on the shameful affair. Jared Calaway is Appalled and Angry, Michael Bird writes about Evangelical Confessionalism and Academic Freedom, Brian LePort writes about Academic freedom, evangelical confessionalism, and the word “university”, James Crossley weighs in with Academic Freedom, Christian ‘Universities’ and ‘Secular’ Universities, James McGahey has a post on Another Unjust Firing: Reflections on Anthony LeDonne's Dismissal from Lincoln Christian University, Jim West speaks about When Ideology and Indoctrination are More Important Than Education: The Bizarre Firing of Anthony Le Donne, Christopher Skinner writes on The Curious Case of Anthony Le Donne and James McGrath asks if it is Time for the End of the Sectarian University? Larry Hurtado speaks more generally about this kind of affair in Academic Injustice and Shameful Cowardice, with a response by John Hobbins.