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Harnack, Adolf von

Harnack, Adolf von

Harnack, Adolf von, 1851-1930, German theologian and church historian. He was professor of church history successively in the universities of Leipzig, Giessen, Marburg, and Berlin. He was director (1905-21) of the Royal Library, Berlin, and president of the scientific research foundation, Kaiser Wilhelm-Gesellschaft. His great work, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (4 vol., 1886-90; tr. The History of Dogma, 7 vol., 1895-1900), has exerted an important influence upon modern theological study. Other translated works include Monasticism (1895), What Is Christianity? (1901), The Apostles' Creed (1901), The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (2 vol., 1904-5), and Luke the Physician (1907).

See studies by G. W. Glick (1967) and W. Pauck (1968).

Adolf, also spelled Adolph and sometimes Latinised to Adolphus, was a popular given name, especially in the German-speaking countries, in Scandinavia, in the Netherlands and to a lesser degree in various Central European countries before the regime of Führer Adolf Hitler- particularly among German-speaking Jews living in these countries and sharing their languages and culture, and who previous to 1933 had no reason to avoid the name. It is now a widely avoided name due to its negative association with Hitler.

Similarly, the French version, "Adolphe" - previously a fairly common name in France and also the name of a classical work of French literature - has virtually disappeared.

However, although "Adolfo" as the Italian version of the name has disappeared in Italy, the Spanish version Adolfo has not become stigmatised in the same way. It is still in common use in Spanish-speaking countries, without the parents bestowing it on their son being suspected of Nazi sympathies. The difference is likely due to neither Spain nor the Latin American countries having been subjected to Nazi German occupation.

Etymologically, the name is derived from the Old High German Athalwolf, a composition of athal, or adal, meaning noble, and wolf; in sequence, making Adolf another compound. Compare Rudolf.

Monarchs and noblemen

People with the given name Adolf or Adolph(e)

See also

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