Professor Heiko A. Oberman has been awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Historical Science 1996 for his studies on the relation between religious and intellectual ideas in the late middle Ages and early Reformation. The awarding committee is of the opinion that Oberman is a true pioneer in the field of Historical Science, particularly due to the new light he has shed on the study of the history of the Middle Ages and Modern Age. Oberman has moved beyond traditional boundaries by linking eras, subdisciplines and national research methods.
In the late sixties, Professor Oberman’s focus extended yet further and he called for a practice of history in which intellectual and social history could function, in harmony, side-by-side. This new approach was the impetus for his book Masters of the Reformation. The Emergence of a New Intellectual Climate in Europe (1977). From a methodological point of view, the great significance of this book was the step he initiated toward the analysis of religious views, such as those upheld among the various social strata. Oberman has bridged traditional gaps between historical subdisciplines and has broadened insight into the dissemination of religious innovation.
Professor Heiko A. Oberman was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands in 1930. He received his university training at the University of Utrecht. From 1964 until 1966 he was Winn Professor of Eccleciastical History, Harvard University. From 1966 until 1984 he was Director of the Institut für Spätmittelalter und Reformation, University of Tübingen, Germany. In 1984 he became Professor of the History of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation at the University of Arizona, Tucson, in the United States.
In 1981 and 1982, respectively, he published standard works on the origin of German anti-Semitism, The Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Age of Renaissance and Reformation and the biography Luther – Man between God and the Devil. Both works have been translated into Dutch.
Professor Oberman became a member (living abroad) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963. He passed away in 2001.