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

Ranke-Heinemann's parents were Lutherans. Her father Gustav Heinemann was a Social Democratic Party politician and president of Germany 1969–74. Her mother Hilda Heinemann studied theology under Rudolf Bultmann at the University of Marburg. In 1944, Hilda sent Uta to Bultmann as a refugee after Essen was heavily bombed.


After nearly seven years' study of Protestant theology in Bonn, Basel, Oxford, and Montpellier, she converted to Catholicism in 1953 and obtained a doctor in 1954 in Munich, the first woman to do so. In 1970, she became the first woman in the world to hold a chair of Catholic theology at the University of Essen. She lost her chair in 1987 after denying the virgin birth and since then has held a chair of the history of religion until her retirement.


Ranke-Heinemann is a pacifist. In 1999, to protest against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, she entered the German presidential election as a candidate of the left-wing Party of Democratic Socialism, running against her nephew Johannes Rau, who was elected in the end.

In 2001, after the death of her husband, she declared her "Departure from traditional Christianity" — though not from Jesus, who said "Blessed are the peacemakers". She added her thoughts about finding her beloved husband after her death to her book "Putting Away Childish Things". Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant showed her how to be a Christian and to hope for eternal life without sacrifice of her intellect.

And here her sevenfold negative Creed:[1]

  1. The Bible is not the word of God but the word of men.
  2. That God does exist in three persons is 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, 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.


  • Ranke-Heinemann, Uta (1990) [1988]. Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven : Women, sexuality, and the Catholic Church. translator Peter Heinegg. Garden City: Doubleday. ISBN 0385265271. 
  • Ranke-Heinemann, Uta (2002) [1992] (in German). Nein und Amen. Mein Abschied vom traditionellen Christentum. Munich: Heyne. ISBN 3453211820. 
    • 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 006066861X. 


  1. "Nein und Amen. Mein Abschied vom traditionellen Christentum", page 417
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Uta Ranke-Heinemann. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.