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Heiko Augustinus Oberman
15 October 1930
|Died||22 April 2001 (aged 70)|
|Awards||Heineken Prize (1996)|
|Alma mater||Utrecht University|
|Thesis||Archbishop Thomas Bradwardine, A Fourteenth Century Augustinian (1957)|
|Notable students||Brad S. Gregory|
Oberman was born in Utrecht on 15 October 1930. He earned his doctorate in theology from the University of Utrecht in 1957 and joined the faculty of the Harvard Divinity School in 1958. There he rose rapidly from instructor to associate professor and, in 1963, to professor of church history. He was appointed Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard in 1964 and continued teaching there until 1966. He then accepted a chair in the theology faculty at the University of Tübingen, Germany, where he also became director of the Institute for Late Middle Ages and Reformation Research. Later in life, Oberman founded the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Arizona. His major books include The Harvest of Medieval Theology: Gabriel Biel and Late Medieval Nominalism (1963), which articulated his program of bridging the gap between the later Middle Ages and Reformation era (at least in the field of theology), and an iconoclastic biography of Martin Luther, translated from German as Luther: Man Between God and the Devil (1989). About Luther, Oberman wrote: "There is no way to grasp Luther's milieu of experience and faith unless one has an acute sense of his view of Christian existence between God and the Devil: without a recognition of Satan's power, belief in Christ is reduced to an idea about Christ - and Luther's faith becomes a confused delusion in keeping with the tenor of his time." He died on 22 April 2001.
Numerous honorary degrees and affiliations in the United States and abroad pay homage to Oberman's stature as a scholar and an educator. He became member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963. In 1996, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded him the prestigious Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History - the highest honor a historian can receive - and, in 2001, shortly before his death, he was told that he would be awarded a knighthood by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 2002 for extraordinary representation of Dutch scholarship and culture. At the University of Arizona, he was named Regents' Professor of History in 1988 and was honored with the 5-Star Faculty Teaching Award in 1989, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Teaching Award for Graduate Instruction in 1999, and the SBS Board of Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.