HEILER, Friedrich

HEILER, Friedrich. Munich 30.1.1892 — Munich 28.4.1967. German Scholar of Comparative Religion. Professor in Marburg. Born in a Catholic family, son of Johann H., a teacher, and Anna Schilling. From 1911 studies of history of religion, theology, philosophy and Oriental languages at Munich, including Akkadian and Arabic (under Hommel), Syriac and Armenian (Lindl), Egyptian and Coptic (Dyroff), Chinese (Kieckers), Sanskrit, Pāli and Avestan (E. Kuhn and L. Scherman). Mainly concentrated on Indology. Ph.D. 1917 and PD in Buddhism from 1918, Munich. In 1920 umhabilitation to Marburg, where he became eo. and in 1922 ord. Professor in Theological Faculty. In 1934 he was forced to move to Greifswald and soon back to Marburg, but in both in Philosophical Faculty and only in 1947 returned to Theological. Emeritus 1962, then taught at Munich. Hon. Dr.Theol. Kiel and Glasgow. Married 1921 Anne Marie Ostermann (a politician), three daughters.

In his research in the 1910s and 1920s Heiler compared Indian religions with Christianity and sought for common points, but after 1931 hardly ever dealt with India any longer. Meeting with Söderblom 1919 made him eager proponent of ecumenism and, without formally quitting Catholic church, he acted in German Lutheran High Church Movement and from 1929 chairman of Hochkirchliche Vereinigung Augsburgischen Bekenntnisses.

Publications: Diss. publ. Das Gebet. Eine religionsgeschichtliche und religions­psychologische Untersuchung. Munich 1919, 5th ed. 19+622 p. 1923, English, French and Swedish translations.

– “Die buddhistische Versenkungsstufen”, Festschrift E. Kuhn 1916, 357-387.

Habil. diss. Die buddhistische Versenkung. Eine religionsgeschichtliche Unter­suchung. 8+93 p. Munich 1918, 2nd ed. 1922.

Sādhu Sundar Singh. Ein Apostel des Ostens und Westens. 16+292 p. Munich 1924, 2nd ed. 1926; Die Wahrheit Sundar Singhs. 14+299 p. Munich 1927.

Die Mystik der Upanishaden. Munich 1925.

Christlicher Glaube und indisches Geistesleben. 104 p. Munich 1926; Die Mission des Christentums in Indien. 54 p. Gotha 1931.

– “Der Gottesbegriff der Mystik”, Numen 1, 1954, 161-183 (Upaniṣads, etc.).

Edited: Die Religionen der Menschheit in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart. 1063 p. St. 1959, 2nd ed. 1962.

Erscheinungsformen und Wesen der Religion. 605 p. St. 1961.

Further theological and ecumenical works.

Sources: C.J. Bleeker, Numen 14, 1967, 165f. & “Die Bedeutung der religionsgeschichtlichen und religions­phänomenologischen Forschung Friedrich Heilers”, Numen 25, 1978, 2-16; E. Dammann, N.D.B. 8, 1969, 259f.; G. Lanczkowski, ZDMG 119, 1970, 15f.; *G. Mensching, Arch. for Psychol. of Rel. 9, 1967, 352-354; A. Schimmel, Numen 13, 1966, 161-163; Stache-Rosen 1990, 221f. with photo; English and German Wikipedia with further references.

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