Kuttner, Stephan George

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Historian of canon law, researcher, university professor; b. Bonn, Germany, March 24, 1907. Kuttner studied at the Universities of Frankfurt, Freiburg, and Berlin where he received a LL.B. in 1928 and a J.U.D. in 1930. He served for a short time as assistant in the Berlin University Law School (192932). Forced to flee Germany in 1933 because of Hitler's pogrom of the Jews, Kuttner made his way to Rome, entering the Catholic Church on Aug. 15, 1933. The following year he became research associate at the Vatican Library, a position he held from 1934 to 1940. Immersing himself in the study of medieval canon law, Kuttner laid the foundation for his future career. In 1937 he published Repertorium der Kanonistik (11401234), the first extensive catalogue of manuscripts from the Decretum of Gratian to the Decretals of Gregory IX. From 1937 to 1940 he also served as an associate professor Utriusque Juris at the Pontifical Institute (now the Lateran University). At the outbreak of World War II Kuttner and his family found asylum in the United States and acquired citizenship in 1945.

After two years as visiting professor of the History of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Kuttner was appointed ordinary professor in 1942, the first lay person to hold a regular appointment on the pontifical faculty of canon law. In 1964 he accepted an invitation from Yale University to become the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of Roman Catholic Studies. His final academic move was to the University of California at Berkeley in 1970 as director of the Robbins Collection of Canon Law and professor (1975 emeritus) in residence.

Kuttner was founder and co-editor (194371) of Traditio, a journal of studies in ancient and medieval history, thought and religion (now published at Fordham University) and editor of Seminar (194356) devoted to Roman law studies. He was also founder and president of the Institute of Medieval Canon Law from 1955 to 1991, when he was named chairman of the board. He edited publications of the Institute, the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law (from 1971 to 1991), and the Monumenta iuris canonici in three series: glosses, canonical collections, and proceedings of international congresses (1965).

Upon receiving the "Role of Law" award from the Canon Law Society of America in 1978 Kuttner stated:

I owe my career only to my stubborn conviction that for the knowledge of canon law it is necessary to know how canon law developed over the centuries, and that it is a crucial point in this development to know the riches of canonical thought of the middle ages which are to a great part hidden in manuscripts. But that there is this connection between the history of the Church and the law of the Church has to me always been a key to my own passion for my own work (CSLA Proceedings 40 [1977] 16162).

On Feb. 11, 1993 Dr. and Mrs. Kuttner were present for the inaugural lecture instituting "The Stephan Kuttner Distinguished Chair in Canon Law" at the Catholic University of America.

Bibliography: Variorum Reprints (London) has collected many of Kuttner's essays. In each of the three volumes there is a retractationes section in which he corrects and updates the original articles: The History of Ideas and Doctrines of Canon Law in the Middle Ages (1980), 11 studies in English and French, including "Harmony from Dissonance: An Interpretation of Medieval Canon Law" (Wimmer Lecture, 1956) and "Cardinalis: The History of a Canonical Concept"; Medieval Councils, Decretals, and Collections of Canon Law (1980), 13 studies in French, English, and German; Gratian and the Schools of Law, 11401234 (1983) 10 studies in English, French, German, and Italian, including with e. rath-bone, "Anglo-Norman Canonists in the Twelfth Century"; Kanonistische Schuldlehre von Gratian bis auf die Dekretalen Gregors IX: systematisch auf Grund der handschriftlichen Quellen dargestellt, Studi e Testi 64 (Vatican City 1935, reprint 1961); Repertorium der Kanonistik (11401234): Prodromus corpus glossarum, Studi e testi 71 (Vatican City 1937); L'Edition romaine des conciles généraux et les actes du premier concile de Lyon (1940); Decreta septem priorum sessionum Concilii Tridentini (1945); kuttner and relze, eds., A Catalogue of Canon and Roman Law Manuscripts in the Vatican Library, Studi e Testi 322, 328 (Vatican City 1986).

[j. e. lynch]