Heinrich Heppe

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Heinrich Ludwig Julius Heppe (born March 30, 1820 in Kassel , † July 25, 1879 in Marburg ) was a German Protestant theologian. He was an important representative of the Reformed Church and a pioneer of Marburg theological liberalism .

life and work

Heppe came from a humble background. His paternal grandfather from Eschwege , also named Heinrich, had been forced into German participation in the American War of Independence as a young father and had to leave his family behind in dire need for several years. His father Reinhard Heppe (1787–1869) was a Westphalian soldier who had survived the Russian campaign in 1812 with a lot of luck and then made his living as a senior boist in the Hessian bodyguard and as a member of the court theater band. He had to earn some of the money for his school books with tutoring. His grandmother in particular imparted a deep piety to him that earned him the nickname " mystic " at school. While his father had hoped to train him to be a singer, after graduating from high school in 1839 , Heppe decided to study theology at the Philipps University of Marburg . In 1878 he became a member of the Corps Hasso-Nassovia .

In Marburg he heard from Professors Ernst Ludwig Theodor Henke , Friedrich Wilhelm Rettberg and Hermann Hupfeld . After passing his exam in the summer of 1843, he was initially tutor to Konsistorialrat Asbrandt in Kassel. In 1844 he received his doctorate with a thesis on the parable of the "unjust householder" ( Lk 16,1-9  LUT ) to the doctor of philosophy and in 1845 with a treatise De coena Dominii to the theological licentiate . He then took up the position as the third pastor at the Martinskirche (Kassel) .

Church history work

In addition to his work as a pastor, Heppe turned to Hessian church history . Based on files from the Hessian House and State Archives in Kassel, he primarily dealt with the history of the Reformation . In 1847 he published A History of the Hessian General Synods from 1568 to 1582 and, two years later, had a paper on The Introduction of Improvement Points in Hesse from 1604 to 1610 . Above all, the latter was supposed to be groundbreaking for Heppe's further career; for here he assigned the Hessian church to the Reformed church district for the first time, which he traced back to Philipp Melanchthon . He emphasized the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures , their doctrine of predestination and their doctrine of the sacraments , which were based on Melanchthon and John Calvin , as characteristics of this “German Reformed” church community . Heppe deepened his views in 1850 in a treatise on the character of the German Reformed Church and its relationship to Lutheranism and Calvinism and pursued his theses in a number of other publications such as the four-volume history of German Protestantism in the years 1555 to 1581 (1853– 1859).

In 1849 Heppe gave up his pastor, completed his habilitation in Marburg and became a private lecturer . In 1850 he was appointed associate professor and in 1852 received an honorary doctorate in theology. In Marburg, Heppe initially oriented himself towards the theologian and grammar school director August Vilmar , with whom he agreed that the spiritual office had to protect the divine world order from overthrow.

Conflict with August Vilmar

Vilmar not only represented a decidedly Lutheran doctrine, but also described the Hessian Church as a "pseudo-reformed" one. Heppe developed into Vilmar's journalistic opponent from 1852 by defending the Reformed character of the Hessian Church. He emphasized their " melanchthonic " character and tried in several publications to prove that the German Reformed Church had emerged from the old Protestant community of the Protestant estates in Germany when the Gnesiolutherans began to split off after the Naumburg Princes' Day (1561) . He accused Vilmar of endangering the Reformed Church in Kurhessen through unevangelical tendencies. The reactions to Heppe's argument were as divided as the Hessian regional church . While Vilmar renewed denominational theology in the long term, Heppe paved the way for liberalism at the Marburg theological faculty.

With his energetic demeanor, Heppe also made himself a personal enemy. As a lecturing council in the Hessian Ministry of the Interior, this prevented Heppes from being appointed full professor, which the theological faculty and the academic senate in Marburg had repeatedly requested. When Vilmar also received a professorship at Marburg University in 1855, he continued his literary feud with Heppe. Heppe's appointment as professor of dogmatics of the Helvetic denomination at the theological faculty in Vienna was thwarted in 1861. It was not until 1864 that Heppe was appointed full professor.

More work

Heppe was also involved in practical questions relating to the regional church. In 1854 he discussed at the Frankfurt Kirchentag and sought a presbyterial - synodal organization of the church. In 1864 he was one of the co-founders of the Hessian deaconess house in Treysa .

Heppe was an extremely prolific writer. In addition to his writings on church history, he published writings on dogmatics , in which he was based on Friedrich Schleiermacher , and a popular prayer booklet . He wrote a multi-volume history of elementary education , worked on local history and wrote on the history of mysticism and pietism . He devoted the last years of his life to revising the history of the witch trials of his father-in-law Wilhelm Gottlieb Soldan . He tightened the denominational statements and added a chapter on witchcraft and witch hunt in the 19th century . Where Soldan had always held back with information on the number of victims, Heppe generously estimated the number in the millions and thus became an influential advocate of the popular "nine million theory". In the context of the Kulturkampf, he polemicized not least against the infallibility dogma of the Roman Catholic Church , which was enacted at the First Vatican Council in 1870 . A progressive esophageal cancer forced him to give up his lectures in 1879.


  • Dissertatio inauguralis de loco Evang. Luc. XVI. 1-9. Univ., Phil. Diss. Marburg, 1844., Marburgi 1844.
  • De coena domini. Dissertatio inauguralis theologica. , Marburgi Cattorum 1845.
  • Facts from the history of the Electorate of Hesse, or a few words about the recently published work by Pastor Vilmar zu Rotenburg, entitled "The Electorate of Hesse". Krieger, Kassel 1844.
  • History of the Hessian General Synods from 1568-1582. 1st edition. Fischer, Kassel 1847.
  • Historical research on the Kassel catechism v. J. 1539 according to its origin and ecclesiastical importance. Luckhardt, Kassel 1847.
  • The introduction of improvement points in Hesse from 1604–1610 and the emergence of the Hessian church order from 1657 as a contribution to the history of the German Reformed Church. Warrior; Döll and Schäffer, Kassel 1849.
  • Contributions to the history and statistics of the Hessian school system in the 17th century. Bohné, Kassel 1850.
  • The legal relationship between the University of Marburg and the Protestant Church in Hesse. Self-published, Marburg 1850.
  • The restoration of Catholicism in Fulda, on the Eichsfelde and in Würzburg. Elwert, Marburg 1850.
  • History of German Protestantism in the years 1555–1581. Elwert, Marburg 1852-1859.
  • Letter to the revered Dr. Thomasius , Dr. Hofmann and Dr. Schmid, concerning the denomination of the Reformed Church in Electorate Hesse. Ferber, Giessen 1855.
  • The Confessional Development of the Hessian Church or The Good Law of the Reformed Church in Kurhessen. Völcker, Frankfurt a. M. 1853.
  • Reliquiae interpretationis evangeliorum Germanicae. Elwert, Marburg 1853.
  • The confessional development of the Old Protestant Church in Germany, the Old Protestant Union and the current confessional situation and task of German Protestantism. Elwert, Marburg 1854.
  • Memorandum on the confessional turmoil in the Protestant Church of Kurhessen. Fischer, Cassel 1854.
  • The church power of the electors of Hesse. Evidence from the Hessian church ordinance of October 21, 1566; to refute the recently published text: "The superintendents in the first chamber of the estates in Kurhessen. Kassel 1856" Leske, Darmstadt 1856.
  • A few words on the assessment of the paper published by Pastor Ruckert zu Kassel: Contributions to the history of the Diocesan Synod held on October 20, 1852 in Ziegenhain. Leske, Darmstadt 1856.
  • The text of the Bergische Concordienformel, compared with the text of the Swabian Concordie, the Swabian-Saxon Concordie and the Torgauer Buches. Koch, Marburg 1857.
  • Dogmatics of German Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century. Perthes, Gotha 1857.
  • History of the Lutheran Concordia Formula and Concordie. Elwert'sche Universitäts-Buchhandlung, Marburg 1857.
  • History of the German elementary school system. Vol. 1–5, Gotha 1858–1860 (reprint Hildesheim; New York: Olms, 1971).
  • Church relations between England and Protestant Germany in the 16th century. A contribution to the history of the Evangelical Union. Cook; William & Norgate, London 1859.
  • Hold what you have so that no one takes your crown! A warning call by the church elders of the Evangelical Reformed Brethren Congregation in Kassel to their fellow elders in the Reformed church; along with an expert responsum. 2nd Edition. Luckhardt, Kassel 1859.
  • Origin and history of the names "Reformed" and "Lutheran" Church. Gotha 1859.
  • Writings on Reformed Theology. Friderichs, Elberfeld 1860.
  • The school system of the Middle Ages and its reform in the sixteenth century. With an imprint of Bugenhagen's school regulations for the city of Lübeck. Elwert, Marburg 1860 (reprint Paderborn: European history publisher, 2011).
  • Philipp Melanchthon, Germany's teacher. A picture of life presented to the German people. Koch, Marburg 1860.
  • The dogmatics of the Evangelical Reformed Church. Friderichs, Elberfeld 1861 (new edition, reviewed and edited by Ernst Bizer , Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1958).
  • Theodor Beza. Life and Selected Scriptures. Friderichs, Elberfeld 1861.
  • The emergence, struggles and decline of Protestant communities in Germany are documented. H. I: Hammelburg and Fulda Niedner, Wiesbaden 1862 (also documented under the title: The Protestant Hammelburg and its fall by the papacy )
  • The Significance of the Heidelberg Catechism in the History of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Krieger, Cassel 1863.
  • Two sermons about the evangelical deaconess office. Verl. Des Evang. Deaconess house, Treysa near Ziegenhain 1865.
  • Memorandum on the fall of the state of Hesse. Ehrhardt; Pfeil, Marburg 1866.
  • On the history of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland and Westphalia. Vol. 1: History of the Evangelical Church of Cleve-Mark and the Province of Westphalia. Bädeker, Iserlohn 1867 ( digitized version )
  • The Presbyterial Synodal Constitution of the Evangelical Church in Northern Germany. Illuminated according to their historical development and evangelical ecclesiastical significance. Bädeker, Iserlohn 1868.
  • The constitution of the Protestant Church in the former Kurhessen in its historical development. Ehrhardt, Marburg 1869.
  • On the history of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland and Westphalia. Vol. 2: History of the Protestant communities in Grafschaft Mark and the neighboring communities of Dortmund, Soest, Lippstadt, Essen etc. Bädeker, Iserlohn 1870 ( digitized version )
  • Catholicism u. Protestantism viewed in terms of the Vatican Council resolutions. Bremen 1871.
  • The state school inspectorate. A requirement of the historical. Development of the German elementary school system. Marburg 1872.
  • History of the theological faculty in Marburg. Marburg 1873.
  • History of quietistic mysticism in the Catholic Church. Hertz, Berlin 1875 (reprint Hildesheim; New York: Olms, 1978).
  • Church history of both Hesse. Sipmann, Marburg 1876.
  • The convention of Protestant imperial estates at Naumburg in May 1554 and the significance of it for German Protestantism. Friedrich, Marburg 1877.
  • Memorandum. Concerning the official significance of the doctorate in the Theological Faculty in Marburg. Marburg 1877.
  • History of Pietism and Mysticism in the Reformed Church, especially in the Netherlands. Brill, Leiden 1879 (new edition 2012).
  • Christian ethics. Edited by Albert Kuhnert. Elberfeld 1882.
  • System of pedagogy. Edited by H. Wiegand. Manz & Lange, Hannover-Linden 1892.


  • The fifteen Marburg Articles of October 3, 1529. Published as a facsimile based on the re-discovered autograph of the Reformers and prefaced according to their historical significance. Fischer, Kassel 1847.
  • Prayer book for the daily practice of devotion in the Christian home. Elwert, Marburg 1853 ( digitized version ).
  • The confessional writings of the old Protestant Church in Germany. Fischer, Cassel 1855.
  • Confessio fidei Augustana a. 1530 imperatori Carolo V. exhibita, postea a. 1540 recognita et aucta. , Casselis Catt. 1855
  • Soldan's History of the Witch Trials. Cotta, Stuttgart 1880.


Web links

Wikisource: Heinrich Heppe  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. see Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg (HStAMR), Best. 915 No. 5659, p. 208 ( digitized version ).
  2. Kösener Corpslisten 1960, 99 , 409.
  3. Wolfgang Behringer: Nine million witches. Origin, tradition and criticism of a popular myth. In: History in Science and Education. 49 1998, p. 671; Katarzyna Leszczyńska: Witches and Teutons. The interest of National Socialism in the history of the witch hunt. transcript, Bielefeld 2009, pp. 155–156. ISBN 3-8376-1169-8 .