Jesuits sack bible sceptic

THE American archaeologist and Old Testament scholar Professor Thomas Thompson, who is claiming that the first 10 books of the Bible are works of fiction, has lost his job as a university lecturer, writes David Keys.

Professor Thompson - whose claims that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David and King Solomon did not exist were reported in last week's Independent On Sunday - has spent the past four years as a senior lecturer in Old Testament studies at the Jesuit-run Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

But the university has refused to renew his contract beyond this June because it found his teaching too controversial.

'We are sponsored by the Catholic church,' said Dr Frank Lazarus, Marquette's vice president for Acamedic Affairs.

'When it comes to giving a long-term commitment to a member of faculty staff, we want to be sure that the person's teaching reflects, as appropiate, the Catholic nature of the institution.

'I consider Professor Thompson's methodology to be over-

reliant upon empirical evidence in a field in which historical texts are studied not only for their historical value but also from the point of view of a faith tradition. We don't reject the quality or the validity of his scholarship.'

'Marquette's treatment of me is a pure rejection of the academic freedom they claim to uphold' Professor Thompson said.

The professor, a practising Catholic, is now to become Professor of Old Testament Studies at Copenhagen University.

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