14 May 1909 Birth of Arnold Ehrhardt, Lawyer, Theologian, Pursuer of Justice #otdimjh

Arnold Anton Traugott Ehrhardt (14 May 1903 in Königsberg to 18 February 1965 in Manchester) was a German jurist and British theologian.

Arnold Ehrhardt

Arnold was the son of Oskar Ehrhardt, a professor of surgery, and Martha, née Rosenhain (?Rosenheim?), a school teacher from a Jewish family. The older sister llse was married to the theologian Hans Joachim Iwand.  His younger brother Rudolf (see blog to come shortly) was a also a theologian and emigrated.

Erhardt went to school in Königsberg and then studied law at Erlangen, Bonn, Berlin and Königsberg. After the First World War he served in the eastern border force and took part in the conflict with the Spartacists.

Soldiers the Brandenburger Tor during the Spartacist uprising Jan 7 1919.jpg
Soldiers on the Brandenburger Tor during the Spartacist uprising

The Spartacist uprising (German: Spartakusaufstand), also known as the January uprising (Januaraufstand), was a general strike (and the armed battles accompanying it) in Berlin from 5 to 12 January 1919. Germany was in the middle of a post-war revolution, and two of the perceived paths forward were social democracy and a council republic similar to the one which had been established by the Bolsheviks in Russia. The uprising was primarily a power struggle between the moderate Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) led by Friedrich Ebert and the radical communists of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who had previously founded and led the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund).

Erhardt took his doctoral degree in 1926 in Königsberg and the following year became an assistant to Fritz Pringsheim in Göttingen and took his habilitation (further qualification for universty teaching) in civil and Roman law in 1929 in Freiburg. He lectured at the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

As a “half-Jew” he was threatened with dismissal; in the winter semester 1934/35 he taught at the University of Lausanne. When his lectures in Frankfurt were boycotted in the summer semester of 1935, he publicly declared his Jewish ancestry.

In autumn 1936 Ehrhardt decided to study Protestant theology with Karl Barth in Basel.  From now on he lived with his family, wife and four small children in Lörrach, the last German place before the Swiss border.  He co-wrote the lectures of Karl Barth in Latin, since he was able “to express what was said faster, more concisely and more precisely in this way” (Scherffig, Vol. 2, 136f.). When he learned of his impending arrest at the beginning of 1939, he went with his immediate family to Switzerland and then emigrated to England. With financial help from the Church of England, he continued his theological studies – after a brief interruption by internment as an “enemy alien” in May 1940 – at the University of Cambridge and was awarded a doctorate in 1944. He was assistant curate in a Manchester parish.

He also did research in ecclesiastical and legal history, publishing his findings mostly in German. From 1956 at the latest he was working as an Anglican priest in Heywood. In 1958 he was appointed Bishop Fraser Senior Lecturer in Church History at the Victoria University of Manchester.

The Ehrhardt Seminar at the Centre for Biblical Studies at the University of Manchester is named after him.

In 1951 and 1957 Ehrhardt declined offers of professorships in law at the Philipps University of Marburg and the Goethe University of Frankfurt.

Reflection and Prayer – Eberhard was a towering figure, as the respect given him in his lifetime shows. A man of dignity, integrity and scholarship, with a brilliant mind, a passion for justice, and a pride in his Prussian Jewish Christian identity. I have been delighted to research his life and work, make contact with some of his descendants, and read some of his work. I was also delighted to find I am distantly related to him!

Prayer: Thank you Lord for this man of faith, a Jewish disciple of Yeshua who lived in difficult and dangerous times, and not only survived by left a lasting legacy in his values, scholarship and mentoring. Help us to follow you in the same way that he did, with passion, energy, diligence and humility. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

For an interview with his daughter-in-law Pat and grand-daughter Penny see here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fydlt-X10-E&t=5s

^ Hartmut Ludwig & Eberhard Röhm. Evangelisch getauft – als «Juden» verfolgt. Calver Verlag Stuttgart 2014 S. 88
^ Leonie Breunung, Manfred Walther: Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Rechtswissenschaftler ab 1933, Berlin/Boston 2012, p. 415
^ Heywood Thomas “Arnold Ehrhardt, A Memoir” (foreword to Arnold Ehrhardt: The Beginning, A Study in the Greek philosophical approach to the concept of Creation from Anaximander to St. John, Manchester, 1968)


AN EXCERPT FROM, THE ARTICLE THAT GIVES EVIDENCE OF HIS DEPTH OF SCHOLARSHIP AND WARMTH OF TONE – “It may not be sufficient as an interpretation when Karl Barth comments upon Rom 11. 36, “how could St. Paul close this chapter more significantly than by stating plainly, menacingly and in a hope provoking
fashion that which was known already to those outside”, but it isan important point. The ambiguous conception of the cosmos withits Divine law has, so Barth argues rightly, received its Divine sanctionthrough Christ’s resurrection.” In this respect it is essential to notice that 2. Pe. 3. 13 has the present tense: “wherein dwelleth righteousness”. The change from the future tense “the heavens shall pass away” etc. in w. 10 sq
to this one and only present in v 13 is highly significant, warning us
not to regard this new heaven and new earth as some future event,
in the same way as also the Revelation of St John insists upon the
eschaton being present already. In other words, Christ’s resurrection
is effective not only in the redemption of mankind, but in the true and
perpetual creation of the world. The new heaven and the new earth
are just as much a Divine reality as the new Jerusalem and the new
and redeemed nature of man. One thing only remains open to conjecture, whether human science is able to express the truth about the
redeemed universe. The question to which we are thus led is, whether
scientific truth can be related to Him who has said “I am the way
and the truth and the life”. To this there are two main answers:
first, that the truth about God’s creation must have life spelt over
it and not death, for He is “the God of the living and not of the
dead”. Unless we learn to understand and to use God’s creation as
living and life-giving, we shall still remain in the thrall of “the last
enemy which is death”. Secondly, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;
therefore, the axioms upon which natural science is built, must not
contradict God’s infinity. That means to say, that space and time
must be related to the basic facts of Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. If this demand is neglected, science will do no more than
add to the many deceptions of “this aeon”. (p31-32)

^ Leonie Breunung, Manfred Walther: Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Rechtswissenschaftler ab 1933, Berlin/Boston. 2012, p. 576
^ Centre for Biblical Studies; University of Manchester

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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3 Responses to 14 May 1909 Birth of Arnold Ehrhardt, Lawyer, Theologian, Pursuer of Justice #otdimjh

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am Arnold Ehrhardt’s youngest child (of 5).
    If you wished, I could flesh out some details, and correct some inaccuracies.


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