CLEMEN, CARL CHRISTIAN (b. Sommerfeld, near Leipzig, 30 March 1865; d. Bonn, 8 July 1940), German Protestant theologian and historian of religions who compiled the classical passages on Iranian religion. Clemen studied at the universities of Leipzig, Tübingen, Halle, and Berlin and received his habilitation from Halle in 1892. He remained there, teaching New Testament studies, until 1903, when he went to Bonn; he was appointed to a full professorship of the history of religions at the university of Bonn in 1920.
Clemen was one of the founders and most important representatives of the so-called Religionsgeschichtliche Schule. In his inaugural lecture at Bonn, which was published as Die religionsgeschichtliche Methode in der Theologie in 1904, he formulated the basic principle of this school: that, in order to elucidate the religious views embodied in the New Testament, Christian theologians must compare the text with those of other religions. In 1920 Clemen began to compile Fontes Historiae Religionum ex Auctoribus Graecis et Latinis Collecti; in the first fascicle, which was to have long-lasting importance for the general study of the history of religions, he assembled the Greek and Latin sources on Persian religion (Fontes Historiae Religionis Persicae, Bonn, 1920), which he interpreted and commented upon in a companion volume, Die griechischen and lateinischen Nachrichten über die persische Religion (Giessen, 1920). The broad scope of his numerous publications on New Testament studies, other religions, and the general history of religion cannot be outlined here. Among the more important titles are Religionsgeschichtliche Erklärung des Neuen Testaments (Giessen, 1909; 2nd ed., Giessen, 1924) and Die Religionen der Erde (Munich, 1927; rev. ed., Munich, 1966).
H. H. Schrey, Neue Deutsche Biographie III, 1957, p. 280.
C. Elsas, The Encyclopedia of Religion III, 1987, pp. 532-33.
Originally Published: December 15, 1992
Last Updated: December 15, 1992
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