Definitions

Niebuhr

Niebuhr

[nee-boor; for 1 also Ger. nee-boor]
Niebuhr, Barthold Georg, 1776-1831, German historian, b. Copenhagen; son of Karsten Niebuhr. He served in the Danish and, after 1806, in the Prussian civil service, took part in the foundation of the Univ. of Berlin, and was (1816-23) Prussian ambassador to the Holy See. From 1823 to his death he taught at the Univ. of Bonn. Niebuhr's history of Rome (3 vol., 1811-32; tr. 3 vol., 1828-42) may be said to have inaugurated modern scientific historical method. Niebuhr related individual events to the political and social institutions of ancient Rome; he sought to recreate the past in terms understandable to the modern reader. An admirer of the Roman republic, he favored agrarianism as the basis of a well-balanced state. He regarded Prussia as a modern parallel of the Roman state and advocated Prussian leadership in the unification of Germany. His liberalism was antirevolutionary, and he was sympathetic to reforms instituted from above.

See his translated Collected Lectures (8 vol., 1852-53); A. Guilland, Modern Germany and Her Historians (tr. 1915, repr. 1970).

Niebuhr, Helmut Richard, 1894-1962, American theologian, b. Wright City, Mo., grad. Elmhurst College (Ill.), 1912, and Eden Theological Seminary, 1915, M.A. Washington Univ., 1917, B.D. Yale Divinity School, 1923, Ph.D. Yale, 1924. He was the younger brother of Reinhold Niebuhr. He was ordained (1916) a minister in the Evangelical and Reformed Church and for a short time was a pastor in St. Louis. Niebuhr then taught (1919-22 and 1927-31) at Eden Theological Seminary and served (1924-27) as president of Elmhurst College. In 1931 he joined the faculty of Yale Divinity School and in 1954 was named Sterling professor of theology and Christian ethics at Yale Univ. Niebuhr was early influenced by the work of Kierkegaard and Barth; later, however, he turned his attention to the personal nature of human relationship to God and advocated a reworking of Christianity in the light of the 20th cent. Among his works are Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929), The Kingdom of God in America (1937), The Meaning of Revelation (1941), Christ and Culture (1951), The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956), and Radical Monotheism and Western Culture (1960).

See biography by J. Diefenthaler (1986); studies by J. D. Godsey (1970), L. Hoedermaker (1971), and J. W. Fowler (1974).

Niebuhr, Karsten, 1733-1815, German traveler in Arabia. He was sole survivor of a party of five (of whom the best known was Peter Forskal, a Swedish naturalist) sent by Frederick V of Denmark to explore Arabia (1761-63). From Mocha, Niebuhr sailed for India, returning to Europe by way of the Persian Gulf and the Tigris River, through Palestine, Syria, and Constantinople (1767). He wrote several accounts of his travels.
Niebuhr, Reinhold, 1892-1971, American religious and social thinker, b. Wright City, Mo. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, he served (1915-28) as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, where he became deeply interested in social problems. In 1928 he began teaching at Union Theological Seminary, becoming professor of applied Christianity in 1930; he remained in this post until his retirement in 1960. In the early 1930s he shed his liberal Protestant hopes for the church's moral rule of society and became a political activist and a socialist. A prolific writer, he urged—notably in Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), Christianity and Power Politics (1940), and The Nature and Destiny of Man (2 vol., 1941-43)—clerical interest in social reforms as well as the beliefs that men are sinners, that society is ruled by self-interest, and that history is characterized by irony, not progress. After World War II, he dropped much of his social radicalism and preached "conservative realism." In his later works, such as Faith and History (1949), Niebuhr argued for balances of interests and defended Christianity as the world view that best explains the heights and barbarisms of human behavior. In A Nation So Conceived (1963) he analyzed aspects of the American character. He also wrote Man's Nature and his Communities (1965), Faith and Politics (ed. by R. H. Stone 1968), and The Democratic Experience (with P. E. Sigmund, 1969).

See biographies by R. H. Stone (1972) and R. Fox (1987); studies by H. P. Odegard (1956, repr. 1972), J. Bingham (1961, repr. 1972), N. A. Scott, Jr., ed. (1975); bibliography by D. B. Robertson (1984).

Reinhold Niebuhr, 1963

(born June 21, 1892, Wright City, Mo., U.S.—died June 1, 1971, Stockbridge, Mass.) U.S. theologian. The son of an evangelical minister, he studied at Eden Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. He was ordained in the Evangelical Synod of North America in 1915 and served as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, Mich., until 1928. His years in that industrial city made him a critic of capitalism and an advocate of socialism. From 1928 to 1960 he taught at New York's Union Theological Seminary. His influential writings, which forcefully criticized liberal Protestant thought and emphasized the persistence of evil in human nature and social institutions, include Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), The Nature and Destiny of Man, 2 vol. (1941–43), and The Self and the Dramas of History (1955).

Learn more about Niebuhr, Reinhold with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Reinhold Niebuhr, 1963

(born June 21, 1892, Wright City, Mo., U.S.—died June 1, 1971, Stockbridge, Mass.) U.S. theologian. The son of an evangelical minister, he studied at Eden Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. He was ordained in the Evangelical Synod of North America in 1915 and served as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, Mich., until 1928. His years in that industrial city made him a critic of capitalism and an advocate of socialism. From 1928 to 1960 he taught at New York's Union Theological Seminary. His influential writings, which forcefully criticized liberal Protestant thought and emphasized the persistence of evil in human nature and social institutions, include Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), The Nature and Destiny of Man, 2 vol. (1941–43), and The Self and the Dramas of History (1955).

Learn more about Niebuhr, Reinhold with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Aug. 27, 1776, Copenhagen, Den.—died Jan. 31, 1831, Bonn, Prussia) German historian. Niebuhr held posts in state service in Denmark and Prussia before resigning to become state historiographer. In 1810 he began a series of lectures at the University of Berlin that were the basis of his great work, the enormously influential History of Rome (1811–32). In it he introduced skepticism to historical scholarship, showing how to analyze historical sources, discard worthless material, and lay bare elements from which historical facts could be reconstructed, and thereby initiating a new era in historiography.

Learn more about Niebuhr, Barthold Georg with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(born Aug. 27, 1776, Copenhagen, Den.—died Jan. 31, 1831, Bonn, Prussia) German historian. Niebuhr held posts in state service in Denmark and Prussia before resigning to become state historiographer. In 1810 he began a series of lectures at the University of Berlin that were the basis of his great work, the enormously influential History of Rome (1811–32). In it he introduced skepticism to historical scholarship, showing how to analyze historical sources, discard worthless material, and lay bare elements from which historical facts could be reconstructed, and thereby initiating a new era in historiography.

Learn more about Niebuhr, Barthold Georg with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Niebuhr is a German surname.

Search another word or see Niebuhron Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;