|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is organized in one series arranged thematically.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains 13 typescript essays thematically divided into four sections: Deity of God; Human bondage; Divine action and human response; and Catholic vision.
Burke Library record group:
Union Theological Seminary Archives: UTS 1, papers of faculty and students
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, UTS1: H. Richard Niebuhr Papers, circa 1925-1950, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Niebuhr, H. Richard (Helmut Richard), 1894-1962. Papers, 1919-1962. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School Repository, Cambridge, MA.
Theological Discussion Group Papers, 1934-1961, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Material was cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-13. Metal clips and staples were removed from materials and folded items were flattened. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. The finding aid was created by Maksim Astashinskio in 2012, updated by Brigette C. Kamsler in 2015 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2021.
2021-02-23 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Helmut Richard Niebuhr, the younger brother of Reinhold Niebuhr, was born in Wright City, MO on September 3, 1894 to German immigrants Gustav and Lydia. After graduating from Elmhurst College (1912) and Eden Theological Seminary (1915), Niebuhr spent a year reporting for a newspaper in Lincoln, IL and another two years serving as an Evangelical and Reformed pastor in St. Louis, MO before earning his Master of Arts degree from Washington University (1917). Niebuhr subsequently returned to Eden for a three-year teaching appointment as an instructor in the fields of theology and ethics. He then earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree at Yale Univeristy in 1923, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1924. In 1924, Niebuhr accepted his alma mater's presidency; he served as Elmhurst College's chief administrator from 1924 through 1927. Four years into his second tenure on Eden's faculty, Niebuhr was awarded Yale University's Sterling Research Fellowship to study in Germany at the Universities of Berlin and Marburg. In 1938, he was promoted at Yale to the rank of full professor and in 1954 became Yale's Sterling Professor of Theology and Christian Ethics.
Although Niebuhr was not perceived to be as polemical a figure as Reinhold, the younger Niebuhr was nevertheless outspoken in his own right as he articulated a neo-orthodox vision of ethical Realism. In conversation with the ideas of Kierkegaard, Troelsch and Barth, Niebuhr historicized the Christian faith and favored reinterpreting the tradition in the light of present-day experience. Niebuhr continued to believe in the enduring relevance of creedal and biblical Christianity, while himself professing a critical form of orthodoxy. As a Christian ethicist Niebuhr did not shy away from expressing his confessional leanings, although he strived to avoid apologetics. His particular brand of existentialism revolved around correcting accepted orthodoxies without ever proposing how one would venture to replace them. In 1951 Niebuhr published Christ and Culture, a response to secular culturist critiques of Christianity, and in his 1960 work on Radical Monotheism and Western Culture, Niebuhr asserted that, unlike polytheism and henotheism, monotheism is the locus of a unique value system that equalizes relations between humanity and God. Niebuhr passed away from a heart attack in Greenfield, MA on July 5, 1962, survived by wife Florence Marie Mittendorff (1895-1989), whom he married in 1920, and their two children, daughter Cynthia and son Richard.