Richter, Aemilius Ludwig

Richter, Aemilius Ludwig, a distinguished teacher of jurisprudence in Germany, who rendered especially meritorious services in the department of ecclesiastical law. Richter was born at Stolpen, near Dresden, on Feb. 15, 1808, and entered Leipsic University in 1826. After graduating, he became an advocate, and at once began to write in the field of ecclesiastical jurisprudence; and he added to these functions those of a teacher in the university, at first as a tutor, and subsequently, in 1835, as extraordinary professor. His labors were already attracting notice by that time, and obtained for him the doctorate of laws from the University of Göttingen, to which the University of Greifswald, twenty years later, added that of divinity. In 1838, Richter was made professor of ecclesiastical and civil law in the University of Marburg. Eight years of quiet but productive labors were spent in that station, and he was then transferred to the High-school at Berlin, where he entered on a career which made him felt throughout Germany within the limits of his chosen field. His studies were given to the world in numerous writings, and the conclusions reached by him were brought to bear in the administration of the Department of Religion, under whose ministry he held various important posts; and his thorough learning, and fair yet conscientious spirit, gave him a commanding position with reference to Church laws and methods of administration, not only in Prussia, but in many other German lands. Few laws were passed relating to the churches, and few changes in their administration introduced, during the period of his connection with the government, in respect to which he did not exert a more or less determining influence. He died, after a long and severe illness, May 8, 1864.

The attitude of Richter towards the ecclesiastical issues of his time was largely determined by the principle, fundamental in his view, that the jus circa sacra belongs inseparably to the State as a moral power. He believed it wise that the State should allow freedom of action to the Church within its own appropriate field; but insisted that for the regulation of mixed questions, for the restraining of ecclesiastical intrusions into the secular realm, for the repression of notoriously aggressive and thoroughly organized religious parties, e.g. the Order of the Jesuits; for the protection of the rights of one ecclesiastical organization as against the encroachments of others, etc., the right of sovereignty must be retained by the State. He was accordingly opposed to the course of the Raumer ministry, which simply ignored the necessity for restraining the unconstitutional demands of the Roman Catholic Church, in consequence of which the Jesuits flooded the western provinces of Prussia, and formed settlements without corporate titles as required by law, and even without coming under any kind of legal supervision. He was also opposed to the concordats concluded between several states and the pope, as being radically wrong. With regard to the evangelical churches of Germany, Richter condemned the territorial no less than the episcopal system, and favored that in which the sovereign prince is endowed with authority, while the Church itself is thoroughly organized into congregations (not parishes), presbyteries, and synods. The merit of Richter as a writer on ecclesiastical law consists in his having based his works on a wide collection of previously unused material as well as that to which reference was ordinarily made, and on a profound investigation of all the sources at command, and also in the absolute fairness of his spirit. These qualities appear as clearly in his works on Roman Catholic law as elsewhere. His earliest publication, the Corpus Juris Canonici (1833-39), is the best edition of that book extant. Other early books are, Beiträge zur Kenntniss d. kanon. Rechts (Leips. 1834): — De Inedit. Decretal. Coll. Lipsiensi (Lips. 1836). In connection with Schulte he also published a large edition of the Canones et Decret. Conc. Tridentini (ibid. 1853). An epochal book in its department was his Lehrbuch des kathol. und evangel. Kirchenrechts, etc. (Leips. 1842; 6th posthumous ed. 1865); and similar importance attaches to the collection entitled Die evangel. Kirchenordnungen des 16ten Jahrhunderts, etc. (Weimar, 1846, 2 vols.).

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