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

Martin Luther
7
Famous As: Father of Protestantism and Church Reformer
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

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
5
Famous As: Theologian
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 Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer
5
Famous As: Theologian, Polymath
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.

Recommended Lists:

 4 Paul Tillich

Paul Tillich
4
Famous As: Christian existentialist philosopher
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.

 5 Albertus Magnus

Albertus Magnus
4
Famous As: Saint
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.

 6 Johann Gottfried Herder

Johann Gottfried Herder
4
Famous As: Philosopher
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

Martin Niemöller
4
Famous As: Theologian
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

Meister Eckhart
4
Famous As: Theologian
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 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
4
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: September 14, 1486
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: February 18, 1535

Sixteenth-century German scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa was known for his expertise in philosophy and the occult. He also taught at the universities of Pavia and Dôle. His De occulta philosophia suggested magic as a way to reach God. He was eventually branded a heretic and imprisoned.

 10 Jakob Böhme

Jakob Böhme
3
Famous As: philosopher, Christian mystic, and Lutheran Protestant theologian
Birthdate: April 24, 1575
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sulików, Lower Silesian Voivodeship
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.

 11 Philip Melanchthon

Philip Melanchthon
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 12 Rudolf Otto

Rudolf Otto
4
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 13 Athanasius Kircher

Athanasius Kircher
3
Famous As: Scholar
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.

 14 Martin Adolf Bormann

Martin Adolf Bormann
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 15 Pope Adrian VI

Pope Adrian VI
3
Famous As: Pope
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.

 16 Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis
3
Famous As: Catholic priest
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.

 17 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
3
Famous As: Writer, Philosopher, Playwright, Poet, Librarian, Theologian, Dramaturge, Literary critic, Journalist
Birthdate: January 22, 1729
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamenz
Died: February 15, 1781

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a noted German dramatist, critic, and author, remembered especially for his contribution towards liberating German theatre from the influence of its classical and French counterpart. Known for such literary masterpieces like Miss Sara Sampson; Emilia Galotti; Minna von Barnhelm; Nathan the Wise; Laocoön; Hamburg Dramaturgy, he is now considered an outstanding representative of the Enlightenment era.

 18 Friedrich Schleiermacher

Friedrich Schleiermacher
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 19 Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner
3
Famous As: Theologian, Writer, University teacher, Catholic priest
Birthdate: March 5, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Freiburg im Breisgau
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.

 20 Jürgen Moltmann

Jürgen Moltmann
3
Famous As: Theologian
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

 21 Leo Baeck

Leo Baeck
2
Famous As: Rabbi
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.

 22 Horst Kasner

Horst Kasner
4
Famous As: Former German Protestant theologian and father of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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.

 23 Rudolf Bultmann

Rudolf Bultmann
5
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 24 Thomas Müntzer

Thomas Müntzer
3
Famous As: Preacher
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.

 25 David Strauss

David Strauss
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 26 Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer
3
Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Historian
Birthdate: September 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eisenberg
Died: April 15, 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.

 27 Johannes Trithemius

Johannes Trithemius
3
Famous As: Cryptographer
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.

 28 Dietrich von Hildebrand

Dietrich von Hildebrand
3
Famous As: Writer, Theologian, University teacher, Philosopher
Birthdate: October 12, 1889
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Florence
Died: January 25, 1977

Named the 20th Century Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII, Dietrich von Hildebrand was a well-known Catholic philosopher who criticized the Second Vatican Council’s church reforms. Known for works such as Transformation in Christ: On the Christian Attitude, he was part of the phenomenological and continental philosophical school.

 29 Julius Wellhausen

Julius Wellhausen
3
Famous As: Biblical scholar
Birthdate: May 17, 1844
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamelin, Germany
Died: January 7, 1918

German biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen is best remembered for best known for his work on the Pentateuch. Born to a pastor, he followed in his father’s footsteps and studied theology. He also taught oriental languages. His New Testament studies were criticized, though his analysis of the Old Testament was well-received.

 30 Andreas Karlstadt

Andreas Karlstadt
3
Famous As: Theologian
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?

 31 Franz Rosenzweig

Franz Rosenzweig
4
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 32 Hugh of Saint Victor

Hugh of Saint Victor
3
Famous As: Writer
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.  

 33 Johann Eck

Johann Eck
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 34 Konstantin von Tischendorf

Konstantin von Tischendorf
3
Famous As: Scholar
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.

 35 Wolfhart Pannenberg

Wolfhart Pannenberg
3
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 36 Peter Binsfeld

Peter Binsfeld
2
Famous As: Theologian
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.

 37 Rabanus Maurus

Rabanus Maurus
5
Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: 0780 AD
Birthplace: Mainz, Germany
Died: February 4, 0856

Apart from being a Benedictine monk, Rabanus Maurus was also a talented author and is remembered for his 22-volume encyclopaedia On the Natures of Things. He enriched German language and literature and this gained the nickname Teacher of Germany. His works also include translations and commentaries.

 38 Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini
3
Famous As: Catholic priest, Writer, Theologian, University teacher
Birthdate: February 17, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Verona
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.

 39 Ernst Troeltsch

Ernst Troeltsch
2
Famous As: Politician, Theologian, University teacher, Sociologist
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.

 40 Reinhard Marx

Reinhard Marx
4
Famous As: Catholic priest, Writer, Theologian, University teacher
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.

 41 Dorothee Sölle

Dorothee Sölle
2
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: September 30, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: April 27, 2003

 42 Paul Gerhardt

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

 43 Albrecht Ritschl

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

 44 Friedrich Naumann

Friedrich Naumann
2
Famous As: Politician
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.

 45 Ferdinand Christian Baur

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

 46 Hermann Gunkel

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

 47 Andreas Osiander

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

 48 Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
2
Famous As: Writer, Theologian, University teacher, Catholic priest
Birthdate: November 20, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Geldern

Known to the media as the Bishop of Bling for his extravagant expenses, German bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst made headlines when he spent around $43 million on renovating his home in Limburg, which also had a $300,000 fish tank. He eventually resigned amid a huge controversy.

 49 Balthasar Hubmaier

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

 50 C. F. W. Walther

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