Werner Mark Linz, a major figure in religious book publishing, is leaving Seabury Press in New York to establish his own religious publishing house, to be called the Crossroad Publishing Company.

Linz is taking with him an author's list that resembles a who's who of contemporary theologians, both Catholic and Protestant: Hans Kueng, Edward Schillebeeckx, Paulo Friere, Martin Marty, Langdon Gilkey, Karl Rahner.Elizabeth Fiorenza, John A. T. Robinson, Jacques Ellul, Eugene Kennedy, Bernard Haering, David Tracy and Thomas Altizer.

Linz moved to the American religious publishing world about eight years ago from West Germany, when McGraw Hill bought Herder and Herder, the American branch of the prestigious Verlag Herder firm of Freiburg, West Germany.

A year later, Linz moved to the Episcopal Church-sponsored Seabury Press, taking much of the backlist -- the inventory and republication rights -- of post-Vatican II theological works with him.

Currently president and publisher of Seabury Press, Linz will now take with him a backlist of some 200 titles.

Two years ago, less than a month after Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, Linz brought off a major coup for Seabury by securing the American rights to the Polish cardinal's three published works. But the pope is not on the list of authors Linz is taking with him.

In a telephone interview, Linz indicated he would continue as a consultant for Seabury but added: "There comes a time when you look for a new challenge. After seven or eight years of successful publishing, although in a limited environment, I prefer something more broadly based, more broadly directed."

A major interest of the new firm, he said, will be a line of religious paperbacks.

The firm also plans new editions of such classics as Rahner's "Encyclopedia of Theology," "Theological Investigations" and "Foundations of Christian Faith," and Schillebeeckx' "Jesus" and "Christ."