OTTO, Rudolf Louis Karl

OTTO, Rudolf Louis Karl. Peine, Hannover 25.9.1869 — Marburg 6.3.1937. German Lutheran Theologian and Scholar of Religion. Professor in Marburg. Son of Wilhelm Otto, a factory owner, and Katharine Reupke, lost his father in the age of 12. Matriculated 1888 from Hildesheim, studied theology at Erlangen and Göttingen. Lic. theol. 1898 Göttingen. PD 1897 Göttingen, für systematische Theologie. In 1906-14 ao. Professor of Theology at Göttingen. Ph.D. 1907 Tübingen. In 1914-17 ord. Professor of Theology at Breslau, from 1917 at Marburg, emeritus 1929. Hon. Dr.theol. 1907 Giessen, 1932 Uppsala. In 1895 visited the Near East, in 1911-12 North Africa, South Asia and Far East, 1927 India and Near East. In India caught malaria, which caused much suffering in his later years. He was active in politics and from 1913 member of Prussian parlament (liberal). Unmarried.

Otto was a theologian and never forgot it, but he worked much on comparative history of religions and phenomenology of religions. In India he was much interested, beside other religions, in missionary work. Most famous of his studies is that on the idea of holiness (1917). A great part of his work dealt with Christian religion.

Publications: Theol.diss. Die Anschauung von heiligen Geiste bei Luther. 106 p. Göttingen 1898; phil. diss. Naturalistische und religiöse Weltansicht. 296 p. Tübingen 1907; Das Heilige: Über das Irrationale in der Idee des Göttlichen und sein Verhältnis zum Rationalen. 4+192 p. Breslau 1917, 22th ed. 1929, tr. into French, English, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Japanese. 

Translated: Viṣṇu-Nārāyaṇa. Texte zur indischen Gottesmystik. 1. 162 p. Religiöse Stimmen der Völker: Die Religionen des alten Indien 1. Jena 1917, 2nd ed. 229 p. Jena 1923; Rāmānuja: Siddhānta. Ein Text zur indischen Gottesmystik. Aus dem Sanskrit.1917, 2nd ed. 181 p. Tübingen 1923; “Ein Stück indischer Theologie. Übertragen aus Yāmunamunis Dreifacher Erweis”, Z. f. Theol. u. Kirche 10, 1929, 241-293.

West-östliche Mystik. 14+397 p. Gotha 1926 (on Śaṅkara & Eckehart); Indiens Gnadenreligion und das Christentum. 5+110 p. Gotha 1930, English 1930 (bhakti); Gottheit und Gottheiten der Arier. 152 p. Giessen 1932; “Nārāyaṇa, seine Herkunft und seine Synonyme”, Zeitschrift f. Missionskunde u. Religionswiss. 49, 1934, 290-312.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Bekenntnis. 64 p. Tübingen 1931.

Die Urgestalt der Bhagavad-Gītā. 46 p. Sammlung gemeinverständlicher Vorträge 176. Tübingen 1934, English 1939; Die Lehrtraktate der Bhagavad-Gītā. 47 p. Ibid. 179. Tübingen 1935.

Transl. Der Sang des Erhabenen. Das Bhagavad-Gītā. 171 p. St. 1935; Die Kaṭha-Upaniṣad. 64 p. Aus der Welt der Religion 24. B. 1936.

– Many further works.

Autobiographical and Social Essays. Ed. & tr. by Gr. Alles. Berlin – N.Y. 1996

Sources: *Gr. Alles, “The Science of Religion in a Fascist State: RO and Jakob Wilhelm Hauer during the Third Reich”, Religion 32, 2002, 177-204; *H. Frick (ed.), Festgruss R.O. Marburg 1931; R. Boeke, “R.O., Leben und Werk”, Numen 14, 1967, 130-143; *R. Davidson, R. Otto’s interpretation of religion. Princeton 1947 (with full bibliography); *M. Kraatz, N.D.B. 19, 1999, 709-711; photo in Rau 91; Wikipedia with photo and further references (see also the German version).

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