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Pope presents Dean with Ratzinger Prize

Posted on 29/10/2013

The Reverend Canon Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of King’s College London and Professor of Biblical Interpretation has been presented with the 2013 Ratzinger Prize by Pope Francis.

The first non-Catholic to be awarded this honour, Professor Burridge received the prize from the Pope on 26 October during a ceremony held at the end of a 3-day symposium in Rome on the work of Joseph Ratzinger on Jesus and the Gospels. The ceremony began with an opening keynote paper from Professor Burridge about his research on Graeco-Roman biography and the gospels.

The Ratzinger Prize - sometimes referred to as the 'Nobel Prize in Theology' - is in its third year, having been introduced in 2010 to recognise those who have distinguished themselves in academic research relating to or expounding upon the work of Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict XVI. 

Professor Burridge has been Dean of King’s College London since 1994. He was appointed Director of New Testament Studies in 2007, and received a personal Chair in Biblical Interpretation in 2008.

He said: 'It is a great privilege to be presented with this award personally by the Pope. I was extremely honoured to be named as one of this year's recipients, and to be invited to stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae with Pope Francis himself. I also greatly enjoyed participating in the Symposium, with the chance to dialogue with many international colleagues on the relationship between my work on the Gospels and Pope Emeritus Benedict’s work on Jesus.'

Pope Francis presenting Professor Burridge with the 2013 Ratzinger Prize

Professor Sir Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s College London, commented: 'The award of the Ratzinger Prize in theology to King’s dean and professor Richard Burridge is a major international scholarly accolade. Those of us who were present witnessed the respect for our colleague’s major scholarly achievements not only of the Vatican hierarchy, including the Pope himself, and of the Ratzinger Foundation but also of the large ecumenical and cosmopolitan group of biblical scholars gathered for the conference which accompanied the prizegiving. This important prize, the first in the Ratzinger series ever awarded to a non-Catholic scholar, indicates the widespread esteem for Professor Burridge’s work and reflects very well on the long-established high reputation of King’s College London in the academic study of theology and religious studies.’

In his citation Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Academic Committee of the Ratzinger Foundation, referred to Revd Professor Burridge's doctoral thesis 'What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman biography’, published in 1992, as having 'exercised a strong influence on the studies of the literary genre of the Gospels'. He added that Revd Professor Burridge was an eminent figure in the field of biblical studies, not just in the English language, and that in particular he had made a great contribution to recognizing, both historically and theologically, the inseparable connection between the Gospels and Jesus of Nazareth'.

The Ratzinger Prize presentation took place in the Sala Clementina in the Vatican on the morning of Saturday 26 October, with a gala dinner (not attended by Pope Francis) taking place in the Vatican Museums that evening. The following day, Professor Burridge gave another presentation about his work, entitled “The Importance of the Christ-centred approach espoused in Ratzinger’s work for reaching the wider community”, to an invited audience at the Anglican Centre in Rome  which included leading academics from the major pontifical universities in Rome. The celebrations concluded with a dinner hosted by the British Ambassador to the Holy See on Sunday evening. 

Thanks to the Ratzinger Foundation kindly extending Professor Burridge’s invitation, additional guests were able to attend the presentation and celebration dinner in Rome. Sharing the memorable occasion were family members, friends and close colleagues, including the Principal of King’s College London, Professor Sir Rick Trainor and his wife, Professor Duprée, and the Very Revd Dr Ian Markham FKC, Dean & President of Virginia Theological Seminary (Alexandria, Virginia, USA) who has hosted the Dean's research visits to the USA. 

The other 2013 Ratzinger Prize recipient was German lay theologian Christian Schaller, professor of Dogmatic Theology and deputy director of the Pope Benedict XVI Institute of Regensburg, Germany, which is publishing the complete works of Joseph Ratzinger.

Notes to editors

Watch the Ratzinger Prize ceremony online.

A conference at King's on 13 December will explore the work of Professor Burridge. Find out more about the event - 'The Gospels connection to Jesus of Nazareth' - on our website.

For further media information please contact the Public Relations Department on 0207 848 3202 or

For further information about King's visit our 'King's in Brief' page.

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