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Hebart, Siegfried Paul (1909–1990)

by J. T. E. Renner

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Siegfried Paul Hebart (1909-1990), Lutheran theologian, was born on 14 September 1909 at Tanunda, South Australia, second child of German-born Theodor Jacob Hermann Gottlob Hebart, Lutheran minister, and his wife Anna Charlotte, née Lademann, who was born at Hermannsburg mission station, Northern Territory. Siegfried grew up in the manse at Tanunda; he attended the Langmeil Church and Tanunda Public schools, and Immanuel College at Point Pass and North Adelaide. A gifted and hard-working student, he gained a government scholarship and entered the University of Adelaide (BA, 1930; MA, 1932), where he concentrated on classics, history, philosophy and German. He was strongly involved in the Australian Student Christian Movement.

After studying in 1932-33 at Immanuel Theological Seminary, Adelaide, Hebart continued his training at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen (Th.D., 1939), north of Nuremberg, Germany, where he was influenced by Werner Elert, Paul Althaus, Hermann Sasse and Otto Procksch. His doctoral dissertation on the nineteenth-century Lutheran churchman, Wilhelm Löhe, was published in German in 1939. On 30 January that year he married Anny Dietz of Nuremberg. Back in South Australia, on 11 June he was ordained into the ministry of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia by Rev. Johannes Heidenreich. He taught at Immanuel College until 1942, when he became the first Australian-born lecturer at Immanuel Theological Seminary; in 1945 he was appointed principal. Besides teaching systematic theology and other subjects, in 1948-53 he also edited and contributed papers and book reviews to the Lutheran Quarterly. From 1954 he was active in the Lutheran Student Fellowship at the University of Adelaide, where for a number of years he taught German. In 1955-59 he was chairman of the ASCM State council.

Secretary of the intersynodical committee that planned the amalgamation of the two Lutheran churches in Australia, Hebart was a skilful communicator and negotiator. After union in 1966, Immanuel and Concordia seminaries merged the following year, and in 1968 Hebart became principal of the newly named Luther Seminary. At synods, pastors’ conferences, retreats, and in-service training schools he was always heard with attention and respect, especially for his positive and progressive thinking. He was an early member of the Adelaide Theological Circle. An ecumenist, he promoted inter-church co-operation in theological education, co-chaired the Roman Catholic-Lutheran dialogue and formulated a number of common theological statements. He was a popular presenter of talks and devotions on radio and television. In the pulpit he presented Christocentric sermons that his listeners could relate to their daily lives.

Invited to lecture on the Continent and in the United States of America, Hebart had served (1964-67) as chairman of the Lutheran World Federation’s Commission on Education. In the 1970s his international reputation took him to South-East Asia for conferences and meetings to build up relationships between Australian and Asian theological schools. He retired in 1979 and next year was appointed AM. His interests included music, walking and the theatre. Survived by his wife and their two daughters and two sons, he died on 12 November 1990 in North Adelaide and was buried in Langmeil cemetery, Tanunda.

Select Bibliography

  • D. E. and I. V. Hansen, With Wings (1995)
  • J. T. E. Renner, `Siegfried Paul Hebart: A Tribute’, Lutheran Theological Journal, vol 13, nos 2 & 3, Nov 1979, p 6
  • M. E. Schild, eulogy given at S. Hebart’s funeral (typescript, 1990, copy in ADB file)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

J. T. E. Renner, 'Hebart, Siegfried Paul (1909–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hebart-siegfried-paul-12614/text22723, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 18 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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