Gerhard Ebeling

Gerhard Ebeling (1912–2001) was a German Lutheran theologian and with Ernst Fuchs a leading proponent of new hermeneutic theology in the 20th century.

Gerhard Ebeling
Born(1912-07-06)6 July 1912
Berlin, Germany
Died30 September 2001(2001-09-30) (aged 89)
Kometa Richner
(m. 1939)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Lutheran)
ChurchConfessing Church[1]
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Zürich
ThesisEvangelical Interpretation of the Gospels
Doctoral advisor
Academic work


Ebeling was born on 6 July 1912 in Steglitz, Berlin,[9] where he attended the gymnasium and began his university study. Ebeling was later a student of Rudolf Bultmann and Wilhelm Maurer in Marburg and of Emil Brunner at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. The years of his study in Berlin, Marburg, and Zürich fell in the period of Nazism in Germany, and his contact with Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as his work in the Confessing Church had an enduring influence on his thought. He completed his Doctor of Theology degree in 1938 at the University of Zürich under the supervision of Fritz Blanke [de; sk]; his dissertation was entitled Evangelical Interpretation of the Gospels: An Investigation of Luther's Hermeneutic.[a]

Already in this early work, Ebeling's interest in systematic as well as historical questions was very apparent. At the end of the Second World War, he completed in 1947 his habilitation at the University of Tübingen, Germany, and assumed the chair for ecclesiastical history in Tübingen. In 1954 Ebeling changed his focus of study from ecclesiastical history to systematic theology and became Professor of Systematic Theology in Tübingen. Two years later, he was called to the University of Zürich in systematic. With the exception of the period from 1965 to 1968, when he was once again in Tübingen, Ebeling remained in Zürich, where he was the founder and, until his retirement in 1979, the director of the Institute for Hermeneutics.

From 1950 to 1977,[citation needed] Ebeling was the chief editor of the publication Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche [de],[10] and for several decades he presided over the Commission for the Publication of the Works of Martin Luther. Gerhard Ebeling held honorary doctorates from the universities of Bonn (1952), Uppsala (1970), St. Louis (1971), Edinburgh (1981), Neuchâtel (1993),[citation needed] and Tübingen (1997).[11]

Ebeling's primary academic interests lay in the area of hermeneutics and the theology of Martin Luther, and both of these areas were combined in his focus on the proclamation of the gospel in the Christian Church. In connection with hermeneutics and the New Testament, he came in close contact with Ernst Fuchs, with whom he shared his interest in proclamation; in the early 1960s, Ebeling and Fuchs were guest lecturers at Claremont in Southern California where they presented their vision of a new hermeneutic (see James M. Robinson and John B. Cobb, Jr., eds., The New Hermeneutic, 1964). Both Ebeling and Fuchs stressed the character and power of language, the role of the Bible in the pulpit (Wesley O. Allen, Determining the Form, Structures for Preaching, 2008).

From a systematic perspective, Ebeling's thought focused on the relationship between law and gospel, and one of his most original contributions was to interpret this relationship within the context of a relational ontology based on the situation of human beings coram Deo and coram hominibus. In researching Luther's interpretation of the Psalms, Ebeling discovered the central role of the coram-relation [de; ko] and developed the idea in the context of an ontology.

He died on 30 September 2001.[12]


  • Evangelische Evangelienauslegung. Eine Untersuchung zu Luthers Hermeneutik. 1942 (= Ebelings Dissertation)
  • Das Wesen des christlichen Glaubens. 1959
  • Wort und Glaube, 4 Bände. 1960–1995
  • Wort Gottes und Tradition. Studien zu einer Hermeneutik der Konfessionen. 1964
  • Luther. Einführung in sein Denken. 1964; ISBN 3-16-143581-8 (Tb.)
  • Lutherstudien, 3 Bände (in 5 Teilbänden). 1971–1989.
  • Einführung in theologische Sprachlehre. 1971; ISBN 3-16-132511-7
  • Dogmatik des christlichen Glaubens, 3 Bände. 1979, 4. Auflage 2012; ISBN 978-3-16-151028-1
  • Predigten eines „Illegalen“ aus den Jahren 1939–1945. 1995; ISBN 3-16-146371-4
  • Luthers Seelsorge. Theologie in der Vielfalt der Lebenssituationen an seinen Briefen dargestellt. 1997; ISBN 3-16-146712-4

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ German: Evangelische Evangelienauslegung, eine Untersuchung zu Luthers Hermeneutik.



  1. ^ a b Celsor 2010, p. 7.
  2. ^ a b Menacher 2013, p. 312.
  3. ^ Van Wyk & van Aarde 2016, pp. 1–4.
  4. ^ Celsor 2010, p. 6.
  5. ^ Celsor 2010, p. 77.
  6. ^ Menacher 2013, p. 308.
  7. ^ Celsor 2010, pp. 175–176.
  8. ^ Celsor 2010, p. 192.
  9. ^ Menacher 2013, pp. 310–311.
  10. ^ Menacher 2013, p. 317.
  11. ^ Celsor 2010, p. 5.
  12. ^ Beutel 2012, p. 542; van Wyk & van Aarde 2016, p. 5.


Beutel, Albrecht (2012). Gerhard Ebeling: Eine Biographie (in German). Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-150447-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Brush, Jack E. (1996). "Gerhard Ebeling". In Musser, Donald W.; Price, Joseph L. (eds.). A New Handbook of Christian Theologians.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Celsor, Scott A. (2010). Word and Faith in the Formation of Christian Existence: A Study in Gerhard Ebeling's Rejection of the Joint Declaration (PhD thesis). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Marquette University. Retrieved 17 January 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Gmainer-Pranzl, Franz (1996). Glaube und Geschichte bei Karl Rahner und Gerhard Ebeling: ein Vergleich transzendentaler und hermeneutischer Theologie (in German). Innsbruck, Austria: Tyrolia. ISBN 978-3-7022-2044-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Knuth, Hans Christian; Krause, Winfrid (2014). "Dank und bleibende Verpflichtung – eine kurze Würdigung des Lutherforschers und ehemaligen wissenschaftlichen Leiters der Luther-Akademie". In Rausch, Rainer (ed.). Glaube und Vernunft: Wie vernünftig ist die Vernunft?. Dokumentationen der Luther-Akademie, Tagungsband (in German). 11. Hanover, Germany: Lutherisches Verlagshaus. pp. 167–170. ISBN 978-3-7859-1167-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Menacher, Mark D. (2013). "Gerhard Ebeling (1912–2001)". In Mattes, Mark C. (ed.). Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 307–334. ISBN 978-3-525-55045-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Van Wyk, Tanya; van Aarde, Andries (2016). "'Doctor of the Church': Gerhard Ebeling". HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies. 72 (1). doi:10.4102/hts.v72i1.3353. ISSN 2072-8050.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Pierre Bühler, Philipp Stoellger, Andreas Mauz (Red.): Gerhard Ebeling. Mein theologischer Weg, Zürich: Institut für Hermeneutik und Religionsphilosophie 2006 (Hermeneutische Blätter, Sonderheft 2006).
Philipp Stoellger, Andreas Mauz (Red.): Gerhard Ebeling. Zürich: Institut für Hermeneutik und Religionsphilosophie 2003 (Hermeneutische Blätter, Sonderheft) Onlineressource (pdf; 988 kB)