Rev. Dr. Hans-Martin Rumscheidt

Martin Rumscheidt, a beloved member of the Bonhoeffer community, was born on July 24th, 1935 in Germany and died January 29th, 2024 in Dover, New Hampshire, USA. A memorial service will be held on March 23rd, 2024 at 1:00pm in Durham, NH with additional services planned in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Nancy Lukens.

A reflection on Martin Rumscheidt’s life, published in the Center for Barth Studies Newsletter by Professor Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen.

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of Martin Rumscheidt, a much loved and respected Christian minister, educator, and theologian. Born in Leuna, central Germany in 1935, his childhood was decisively shaped by the experience of WWII, not least by the death of his 16-year-old brother during its last fortnight. His family moved to Switzerland in 1949 and then to Canada in 1952. Martin pursued his studies at McGill University, earning his BA, BD, MTS, and PhD degrees from that institution between 1958 and 1967. He was ordained a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the United Church of Canada in 1961 and pastored churches in Montreal, Enterprise, and Toronto through the decade that followed. In 1970 he began an academic career, teaching historical and systematic theology, first at the University of Windsor (1970–75) and then for many years at the Atlantic School of Theology (1975–2002). In his retirement, Martin gave himself over in particular to speaking—especially with Jewish and Christian groups—about his life and experiences and the crucial labour of remembering, repentance, and the work of reconciliation. A winsome recent example of one of these talks can be seen online here.

He was the author of several books, including Revelation and Theology: An Analysis of the Barth-Harnack Correspondence of 1923 (1972), Adolf von Harnack: Liberal Theology at its Height (1989), and latterly In Search of a Theology Capable of Mourning: Observations and Interpretations after the Shoah (2017). Martin was prodigious editor and translator, editing Footnotes to a Theology: The Karl Barth Colloquium of 1972 (1972)—the proceedings of the first meeting of the Karl Barth Society of North America when it met in Toronto—as well as Karl Barth in Re-View: Posthumous Works Reviewed and Assessed (1981), and The Way of Theology in Karl Barth: Essays and Comments (1986). His substantive translations include Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Act and Being (DBWE 2, 1996), and with Barbara Rumscheidt, his late wife, Dorothee Sölle’s books Against the Wind (1999) and The Silent Cry (2001), and in collaboration with others, texts by Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt, Theological Audacities: Selected Essays (2010), and Ralf Würstenberg, Christology: How do We Talk about Jesus Christ Today? (2014).

Martin was a respected and beloved teacher of generations of ministry and theology students at AST in Halifax. His contributions to theological scholarship are both substantive and lasting. For those who knew him from the theological scene, Martin was a thoughtful and passionate advocate of a lively left-wing Barthianism in the tradition of Gollwitzer and Marquardt—somewhat uncommon in English-speaking circles—a tradition in which the imperatives of a genuinely theological existence sought earnest and humane expression in active social and political engagement and advocacy. Martin’s personal devotion to the task of taking responsibility—both theological and human—for the legacy of the Shoah was as profound as it was sustained. I am certain that many had their theological horizons widened and their consciences stirred and/or seared by their encounters with Martin. I am no less certain that many also came away from conversations with Martin encouraged and emboldened and edified. This was my always my experience, for which I will always be grateful.

Martin’s loss will be felt intensely by family, friends, colleagues, and former students.

May his memory be a blessing. May he rest in peace in the hope of glory.




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