Gerhard Kittel

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Gerhard Kittel, later in life.
His magnum opus

Gerhard Kittel (23 September 1888, Breslau – 11 July 1948, Tübingen) was a German Protestant theologian, and lexicographer of biblical languages. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis.[1] and an open anti-Semite.[2][3] He is best known in the field of Biblical study for his Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament).[citation needed]


The son of Old Testament scholar Rudolf Kittel,[1] he married Hanna Untermeier in 1914, but there were no children from the union. In May 1933 he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party.[4] He had had no previous involvement in politics but called the Party "a folkish renewal movement on a Christian, moral foundation".[4]

In 1945, after Hitler's Third Reich capitulated to the Allies, Kittel was arrested by the French occupying forces, removed from office and interned at Balingen. In 1946 Kittel was released pending his trial. He was forbidden to enter Tübingen until 1948, however. From 1946-48 he was a Seelsorger in Beuron. In 1948 he was allowed back into Tübingen, but died that year before the criminal proceedings against him could be resumed.[4]

Nazi Germany[edit]

For the Third Reich, he produced antisemitic propaganda posing as scholarship.[1]

A Professor of Evangelical Theology and New Testament at the University of Tübingen, he published studies depicting the Jewish people as the historical enemy of Germany, Christianity, and European culture in general. In a lecture of June 1933 Die Judenfrage (The Jewish Question), that soon appeared in print, he spoke for the stripping of citizenship from German Jews, their removal from medicine, law, teaching, and journalism, and to forbid marriage or sexual relations with non-Jews - thus anticipating by two years the Nazi government, which introduced its Nuremberg Racial Laws and took away Jewish rights of German citizenship, in 1935.[1] A close friend of Walter Frank, Kittel joined Frank's Reichsinstitut für Geschichte des neuen Deutschlands, a highly politicised organisation that claimed to be involved in scholarship, upon its foundation in 1935. Within this institute he was attached to the highly anti-Semitic Forschungsabteilung judenfrage.[4]

William F. Albright wrote that, "In view of the terrible viciousness of his attacks on Judaism and the Jews, which continues at least until 1943, Gerhard Kittel must bear the guilt of having contributed more, perhaps, than any other Christian theologian to the mass murder of Jews by Nazis."[5]

Literary works[edit]

  • Die Oden Salomos überarbeitet oder einheitlich, 1914
  • Jesus und die Rabbinen, 1914
  • Die Probleme des palästinensischen Spätjudentums und das Urchristentum, 1926
  • Urchristentum, Spätjudentum, Hellenismus, 1926
  • Die Religionsgeschichte und das Urchristentum, 1932
  • Founder and co-editor of the "Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament", 5 vols., 1933-1979
  • Ein theologischer Briefwechsel mit Karl Barth, 1934
  • Christus und Imperator, 1939
  • Das Antike Weltjudentum - Forschungen zur Judenfrage (World Jewry of antiquity), 1943 with Eugen Fischer.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Robert P. Ericksen (2012). Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany. Cambridge University Press. pp. 8, 31–32. ISBN 110701591X. 
  2. ^ Ericksen, Robert, Theologians Under Hitler. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1985.
  3. ^ Max Weinreich. Hitler Professors, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1999.
  4. ^ a b c d Robert P. Ericksen, "Theologian in the Third Reich: The Case of Gerhard Kittel", Journal of Contemporary History, Volume 12, Number 3, July 1977, pp. 596, 599, 617-18
  5. ^ Harold Willoughby (ed.), "The War in Europe and the Future of Biblical studies", The Study of the Bible Today and Tomorrow, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,1947.
  6. ^ Das Antike Weltjudentum - Forschungen zur Judenfrage. 1943. 

External links[edit]