Uta Ranke-Heinemann

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Uta Ranke-Heinemann

Uta Ranke-Heinemann (born 2 October 1927) is a German theologian, academic, and author. She holds the (nondenominational) chair of History of Religion at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, her birthplace.

Early life[edit]

Ranke-Heinemann's parents were Protestants (Calvinistic). Her father Gustav Heinemann was an SPD politician and president of Germany 1969–1974.[1]


After nearly seven years' study of Protestant theology in Bonn, Basel, Oxford, and Montpellier, she converted to Catholicism in 1953 and was promoted to doctor in 1954 in Munich. Before 1954 no doctorate in Catholic theology for women was possible.[1]

In 1969 Ranke-Heinemann became the first woman to hold a chair of theology at a German university.[2] She subsequently held the Essen University chair of ancient church history and the New Testament. In 1987 Bishop of Essen Franz Hengsbach withdrew her license to teach Catholic theology for disputing the virgin birth of Jesus. This effectively disqualified her from the post she had held for three years.[3]


Ranke-Heinemann's sevenfold farewell to traditional Christianity contains the following:[4]

  1. The Bible is not the word of God but the word of men.
  2. That God exists in three persons is the imagination of men.
  3. Jesus is man and not God.
  4. Mary is the mother of Jesus and not the mother of God.
  5. God created heaven and earth, but hell is a product of human fantasy.
  6. The devil and original sin do not exist.
  7. A bloody redemption at the Cross is a pagan sacrificial slaughtering of a human being, based on a model from the religious Stone Age.

Personal life[edit]

Ranke-Heinemann's niece is Christina Rau, whose husband Johannes served as president of Germany 1999–2004.


  • Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, sexuality, and the Catholic Church
  • Ranke-Heinemann, Uta (2002) [1992]. Nein und Amen. Mein Abschied vom traditionellen Christentum (in German). Munich: Heyne. ISBN 3-453-21182-0.
    • 1992 edition translated as:
Ranke-Heinemann, Uta (1994) [1992]. Putting away childish things: the Virgin birth, the empty tomb, and other fairy tales you don't need to believe to have a living faith. translator Peter Heinegg. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0-06-066861-X.