Adolf Köberle

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Adolf Köberle (July 3, 1898 in Bad Berneck, Upper Franconia, Germany – March 22, 1990 in Munich) was a German theologian. From 1922 to 1926, he was head of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Seminary in Leipzig.[1] From 1930 to 1939, he was Professor of Systematic Theology in Basel. He is best known for his work, The Quest for Holiness: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Investigation.

Köberle studied philosophy and theology at Tübingen University. In 1928, he received his doctorate with the writing of Das Verhältnis von Rechtfertigung und Heiligung (The Quest for Holiness). The book was published later under the title, Rechtfertigung und Heiligung, and translated to English in 1936 by John C. Mattes. The "brilliant theological study... attracted so much attention in Germany that within a few years it passed through three editions..."[2][3]

Köberle primarily wrote about Christian holiness as being motivated by the love of Christ and gratitude to God (rather than being motivated by obligation or fear).[2] He was considered a representative and interpreter of the heritage of Lutheran Pietism.

Notable quotations[edit]

  • "...The personal and voluntary relationship between God and man that is taught in the Bible has been utterly betrayed and forgotten."[4]
  • "The legalistic Pharisee, who had imagined that he could purely and completely fulfill God's will with his own natural powers, lays aside the proud legal name he bore. The alpine heights of human piety and virtue become very small in his eyes as he views Him Who dwelleth in the heavens. The relative difference existing on earth, from which the vanity and self-consciousness of man draws its support, are all levelled (Rom. 1-3)." [5]


  1. ^ G. Müller (Hrsg.): Rechtfertigung, Realismus, Universalismus in biblischer Sicht. Festschrift für Adolf Köberle zum achtzigsten Geburtstag. Darmstadt, 1978 (mit Bibliographie)
  2. ^ a b Köberle, Adolf: The Quest for Holiness, xv. Ballast Press 1999.
  3. ^ John C, Mattes, D.D. (trans) Minneapolis, Augsburg Publishing House, 1964
  4. ^ Köberle, Adolf. The Quest for Holiness. Translated by John C. Mattes, D.D. Ballast Press 1999. p.10
  5. ^ Köberle, Adolf. The Quest for Holiness. Translated by John C. Mattes, D.D. Ballast Press 1999. p.23