Famous German Theologians

Find out more about the greatest German Theologians, including Martin Luther, Pope Benedict XVI, Paul Tillich, Pope Adrian VI and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite German Theologians

 1 
Martin Luther
(Father of Protestantism and Church Reformer)

Martin Luther
7
Birthdate: November 10, 1483
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eisleben, Germany
Died: February 18, 1546

German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.

 2 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
6
Birthdate: February 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: April 9, 1945
Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is remembered for his anti-Nazi stance, for establishing the Confessing Church, and for authoring the book The Cost of Discipleship. He was sent to the Flossenbürg concentration camp after being imprisoned for a year. He was eventually hanged after being charged of plotting to assassinate Hitler.

 3 
Albertus Magnus
(One of the Greatest German Philosophers and Theologians of the Middle Ages)

Albertus Magnus
4
Birthdate: 1200 AD
Birthplace: Lauingen, Germany
Died: November 15, 1280

Albertus Magnus was a friar, bishop, and philosopher. Regarded by some as the greatest German theologian and philosopher of the Middle Ages, Albertus' writings have inspired the iconography of the archivolts and tympanum of the 13th-century portal of Strasbourg Cathedral. Remembered for his contribution to academics, several education institutions have been named after Albertus Magnus.

Recommended Lists:

 4 
Albert Schweitzer
(Physician and Founder of the “Albert Schweitzer Hospital” in Lambaréné,)

Albert Schweitzer
6
Birthdate: January 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France
Died: September 4, 1965

Albert Schweitzer was an Alsatian polymath who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work, Reverence for Life. He is credited with founding the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which was a direct result of his philosophical expression. Schweitzer is also credited with influencing the Organ reform movement, which began in the mid-20th-century.

 5 
Paul Tillich
(Christian existentialist philosopher)

Paul Tillich
5
Birthdate: August 20, 1886
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Starosiedle, Poland
Died: October 22, 1965

German-American theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich is remembered for his work in the field of Christian existentialism and for concepts such as the method of correlation. His notable works, such as The Courage to Be and the three-volume Systematic Theology, has inspired intellectual thinkers and commoners alike.

 6 
Johann Gottfried Herder
(Philosopher, Theologian, Poet, and Literary Critic)

Johann Gottfried Herder
4
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morąg, Poland
Died: December 18, 1803

German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is best remembered as a significant figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Born into poverty and largely self-educated till 17, he later became a disciple of Immanuel Kant and was associated with Enlightenment and Weimar Classicism. He was eventually ennobled.

 7 
Martin Niemöller
(Theologian)

Martin Niemöller
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lippstadt, Germany
Died: March 6, 1984
Best remembered for the quote “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out...,” Martin Niemöller was a German pastor who tried to counter discrimination against Christian converts with Jewish heritage. His Confessing Church was perhaps his apology for initially being a Nazi sympathizer.
You May Like

 8 
Meister Eckhart
(Theologian)

Meister Eckhart
4
Birthdate: 1260 AD
Birthplace: Gotha, Germany
Died: 1328 AD

German philosopher Meister Eckhart is remembered for his Latin and German transcripts that stress on the relationship between God and man. His treatises include Talks of Instruction and the Book of Divine Consolation. His innovative vocabulary also contributed to the German language. However, he was accused of heresy later.

 9 
Rudolf Otto
(Theologian)

Rudolf Otto
4
Birthdate: September 25, 1869
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Peine, Germany
Died: March 6, 1937

Initially a professor of theology, philosopher Rudolf Otto later contributed to some of the most significant works of theology, such as The Idea of the Holy. He was also a member of the Prussian Parliament and is remembered for his services to Christianity and his idea of numinous.

 10 

Martin Adolf Bormann
3
Birthdate: April 14, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Grünwald, Bavaria, Germany
Died: March 11, 2013

Son of a top Nazi official, laicized Roman Catholic priest Martin Adolf Bormann found shelter in a church after Germany lost the war. Ordained as a priest, he later served in Congo before leaving the ministry to become a teacher of theology. After retirement, he began traveling across Germany and Austria, talking about the horrors of Nazi rule in schools.

 11 
Athanasius Kircher
(German Jesuit Scholar and Polymath Known for His Work in the Fields of Comparative Religion, Geology, and Medicine)

Athanasius Kircher
3
Birthdate: May 2, 1602
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Geisa, Germany
Died: November 28, 1680

Known as the last Renaissance man, Athanasius Kircher was a German Jesuit priest who taught at the Roman College for 4 decades. He was also obsessed with Sinology and Egyptology, and studied everything from fossils to microbes. He was also interested in medicine and invented machines such as the magnetic clock.

 12 
Thomas à Kempis
(Catholic priest)

Thomas à Kempis
3
Birthdate: 1380 AD
Birthplace: Kempen, Germany
Died: July 25, 1471

German-Dutch clergy Thomas à Kempis is largely believed to be the author of Imitatio Christi, or Imitation of Christ. Part of the Devotio Moderna, or the Modern Devotion movement, he was the son of a blacksmith and had moved from Rhineland to the Netherlands, where he was inspired by Gerard Groote’s followers.

 13 
Karl Rahner
(One of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century)

Karl Rahner
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Died: March 30, 1984

One of the most significant theologians of the 20th century, Karl Rahner was a disciple of Martin Heidegger at the University of Freiburg. His works such as Spirit in the World and Hearers of the Word showcase the Roman Catholic doctrine and its many interpretations.

 14 
Jakob Böhme
(Philosopher)

Jakob Böhme
3
Birthdate: April 24, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stary Zawidów, Poland
Died: November 17, 1624

German mystic and philosopher Jakob Böhme is best remembered for his works such as On the Election of Grace and Mysterium Magnum. While he was initially a shoemaker’s apprentice, he later focused on studies on mysticism and free will. He inspired both German idealism and romanticism greatly.

 15 

Friedrich Schleiermacher
4
Birthdate: November 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: February 12, 1834

Hailed as an early leader of liberal Christianity, Lutheran philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher was also an eminent biblical scholar and theologian. Best remembered for his works on hermeneutics and theory of translation, he also had a great impact on the evolution of higher criticism and became known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional Protestant Christianity.

 16 
Philip Melanchthon
(Theologian)

Philip Melanchthon
3
Birthdate: February 16, 1497
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bretten, Germany
Died: April 19, 1560

German theologian Philip Melanchthon had a major role in establishing public schools in Germany. A friend of Protestant Reformation theologian Martin Luther, he is remembered for penning the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, a significant confession of Lutheranism. He had also served as a professor at the University of Wittenberg.

 17 
Jürgen Moltmann
(Theologian)

Jürgen Moltmann
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany

Currently Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, German Reformed theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, is especially known for developing a form of social trinitarianism. Describing his views as Post-Barthian, he has penned down numerous works including Theology of Hope, The Crucified God, God in Creation etc. He is of the view that God suffers with humanity, while also promising a better future through the hope of the Resurrection

 18 
Rudolf Bultmann
(Theologian)

Rudolf Bultmann
5
Birthdate: August 20, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wiefelstede, Germany
Died: July 30, 1976

A professor of New Testament at the University of Marburg, Rudolf Bultmann was a German theologian, known for his work on demythologization, a process that separates cosmological and historic claims from philosophical, ethical and theological teachings. An influential theologian of the post-war era, he undertook pioneering research in historical Jesus, attempting to reconcile faith and reason in a modern context.

 19 
Leo Baeck
(Rabbi)

Leo Baeck
2
Birthdate: May 23, 1873
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leszno, Poland
Died: November 2, 1956

German rabbi and spiritual leader Leo Baeck remains a symbol of liberal Jewish thinking of the Nazi era. He is best remembered for The Essence of Judaism and This People Israel, the latter of which was penned by him while in a Nazi concentration camp.

 20 
Horst Kasner
(Former German Protestant theologian and father of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.)

Horst Kasner
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pankow, Berlin, Germany
Died: September 2, 2011

Horst Kasner is best remembered as the father of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Part of Hitler Youth, he had served Hitler’s army during World War II and was held prisoner at 19. He later became a Protestant theologian and pastor in the town of Templin.

 21 
Bruno Bauer
(Philosopher, Theologian, Historian)

Bruno Bauer
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eisenberg, Germany
Died: April 13, 1882

German philosopher Bruno Bauer is best remembered as a student of legendary German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel. Part of the group of intellectuals known as Young Hegelians, he was also a staunch Rationalist. He not only questioned the origin of Christ but was also accused of anti-semitism.

 22 
Thomas Müntzer
(Preacher)

Thomas Müntzer
3
Birthdate: 1489 AD
Birthplace: Stolberg, Südharz, Germany
Died: May 27, 1525

Remembered as a radical reformer, Thomas Müntzer was a major force in the German Peasants' War of 1525. Initially a priest and a linguistic specialist, he gradually began representing the middle class and worked toward church reforms. He was eventually executed, and his head wad displayed as a warning.

 23 
Johannes Trithemius
(Cryptographer)

Johannes Trithemius
3
Birthdate: February 1, 1462
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Trittenheim, Germany
Died: December 13, 1516

Considered one of the most significant of German scholars, Johannes Trithemius made a major contribution to German Renaissance and was a cryptographer, a magician, and a lexicographer at the same time. He ran away from home at 17 and took shelter at a Benedictine abbey, where he began the life of an abbot.

 24 
David Strauss
(Theologian)

David Strauss
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1808
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany
Died: February 8, 1874

Protestant theologian David Strauss was 12 when he joined a seminary to study theology. Known for his works such as Das Leben Jesu, or The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, he criticized the Gospels and the miracles associated with Christ, thus inspiring future studies on the historical Jesus.

 25 
Franz Rosenzweig
(Theologian)

Franz Rosenzweig
4
Birthdate: December 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kassel, Germany
Died: December 10, 1929

Though he had once seriously thought of converting to Christianity, German Jewish Franz Rosenzweig later devoted his life to the study and development of Judaism. Known for his iconic work The Star of Redemption, he explained the relationship among God, humans, and the world, with a star-like diagram.

 26 
Andreas Karlstadt
(Theologian)

Andreas Karlstadt
3
Birthdate: 1486 AD
Birthplace: Karlstadt am Main, Germany
Died: December 24, 1541

Protestant theologian Andreas Karlstadt was known for his association with Martin Luther and was one of his early supporters. A professor at the University of Wittenberg, he later came to be known as a church reformer. His numerous tracts private masses and celibacy include Shall We Go Slowly?

 27 
Hugh of Saint Victor
(12th Century French Theologian Who Began the Tradition of Mysticism)

Hugh of Saint Victor
3
Birthdate: 1096 AD
Birthplace: Saxony, Germany
Died: February 11, 1141

Best remembered for establishing the tradition of mysticism at Saint-Victor Abbey in Paris, Hugh of Saint Victor was an eminent twelfth century philosopher, theologian and mystical writer. Author of several renowned works including The Sacraments of the Christian Faith; he was an ardent upholder of secular learning, writing a comprehensive early encyclopedia, holding that art and philosophy can serve theology.  

Konstantin von Tischendorf
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1815
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saxony, Germany
Died: December 7, 1874

Although best remembered for his discovery of the world's oldest handwritten Bible, known as Codex Sinaiticus or Sinai Bible, Konstantin Von Tischendorf, a renowned Biblical scholar, worked chiefly on recension of the New Testament text. A prolific writer making extensive contributions to biblical textual criticism, he is today best known for his magnum opus, Critical Edition of the New Testament.

 29 
Johann Eck
(Theologian)

Johann Eck
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1486
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Egg an der Günz, Germany
Died: February 10, 1543

Johann Eck was a German theologian and Catholic counter-reformer who was one of Martin Luther's most prominent theological opponents. He also contributed as an educator, working at the University of Ingolstadt as a professor of theology.

 30 

Wolfhart Pannenberg
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Szczecin, Poland
Died: September 4, 2014

One of the greatest theologians of our era, Wolfhart Pannenberg was also a renowned academic, who taught at different German universities for more than three decades. An expert on systematic theology, he mostly worked on Christology and philosophy of history, publishing numerous books and scholarly articles including Jesus: God and Man, Systematic Theology etc, thus contributing greatly to modern theology.

 31 
Peter Binsfeld
(Theologian)

Peter Binsfeld
2
Birthdate: 1545 AD
Birthplace: Binsfeld, Germany
Died: November 24, 1598

Born to a farmer, Peter Binsfeld grew up to be a bishop. He was also a witch hunter and was known for his classification of demons, which paired each of the seven deadly sins with a particular demon. He was one of the main figures behind the Trier witch trials.

 32 
Romano Guardini
(Catholic priest was one of the most important figures in Catholic intellectual life in the 20th century)

Romano Guardini
3
Birthdate: February 17, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Verona, Italy
Died: October 1, 1968

Though he initially studied both chemistry and economics, Romano Guardini later became a priest. He later also served the University of Berlin as its chair of philosophy in religion but was forced to resign by the Nazis. He later also taught at the University of Munich.

 33 
Ernst Troeltsch
(Politician, Theologian, University teacher, Sociologist)

Ernst Troeltsch
2
Birthdate: February 17, 1865
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Augsburg-Haunstetten
Died: February 1, 1923

Ernst Troeltsch was one of the first German theologians to insist that the Christian church should reconsider its version of absolute truth. The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches remains his best-known work. The son of a physician, he was skeptical of religious absolutism from the very beginning.

 34 
Reinhard Marx
(Catholic priest, Writer, Theologian, University teacher)

Reinhard Marx
4
Birthdate: September 21, 1953
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Geseke

Currently the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx is a leading figure in Germany’s Roman Catholic Church and a member of the Pope’s advisory council. Known for his strong views on several contemporary topics including abortion and migration, he came to international limelight when he offered his resignation, taking responsibility for sexual abuses by priests over the past decades.

 35 
Paul Gerhardt
(Theologian)

Paul Gerhardt
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1607
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gräfenhainichen, Germany
Died: May 27, 1676

 36 

Pope Adrian VI
4
Birthdate: March 2, 1459
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: September 14, 1523

Sixteenth-century pope Adrian VI remains the only Dutch to have been a pope and was the last non-Italian pope till John Paul II’s election after over 400 years. He wished to reform the Church but wasn’t able to do much, as he was strongly opposed by many, including Italian cardinals.

 37 
Dorothee Sölle
(Theologian)

Dorothee Sölle
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: April 27, 2003

 38 

Johannes Tauler
2
Birthdate: 1300 AD
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: June 16, 1361

 39 

Ferdinand Christian Baur
2
Birthdate: June 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Schmiden, Germany
Died: December 2, 1860

 40 
Friedrich Naumann
(Politician)

Friedrich Naumann
3
Birthdate: March 25, 1860
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Störmthal, Großpösna, Germany
Died: August 24, 1919

German political theorist Friedrich Naumann was also a Protestant pastor. He was part of the Reichstag and later also co-founded the Democratic Party of Germany, leading it till his death. He is also remembered for his National-Social Association, which he had co-founded with sociologist Max Weber.

 41 

Philipp Spener
2
Birthdate: January 13, 1635
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ribeauvillé, France
Died: February 5, 1705

 42 
Andreas Osiander
(Theologian)

Andreas Osiander
2
Birthdate: December 19, 1498
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gunzenhausen, Germany
Died: October 27, 1552

 43 
Hermann Gunkel
(Biblical scholar)

Hermann Gunkel
2
Birthdate: May 23, 1862
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Springe, Germany
Died: March 11, 1932

 44 
Martin Chemnitz
(Theologian, University teacher, Astrologer)

Martin Chemnitz
2
Birthdate: November 9, 1522
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Treuenbrietzen
Died: April 8, 1586

 45 
Balthasar Hubmaier
(Theologian)

Balthasar Hubmaier
2
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Birthplace: Friedberg, Germany
Died: March 10, 1528

 46 
C. F. W. Walther
(Theologian)

C. F. W. Walther
2
Birthdate: October 25, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Langenchursdorf, Germany
Died: May 7, 1887

 47 
Johann Oecolampadius
(Protestant Reformer)

Johann Oecolampadius
2
Birthdate: 1482 AD
Birthplace: Weinsberg, Germany
Died: November 24, 1531

 48 

Johann von Staupitz
2
Birthdate: 1460 AD
Birthplace: Thümmlitzwalde, Grimma, Germany
Died: December 28, 1524

 49 

Ignaz von Döllinger
2
Birthdate: February 28, 1799
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: January 10, 1890

 50 
Albrecht Ritschl
(Theologian)

Albrecht Ritschl
2
Birthdate: March 25, 1822
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 20, 1889