Jürgen Moltmann, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen in Germany, is one of the most widely read theologians of the second half of the twentieth century. Moltmann was born in Hamburg, Germany, on 8 April 1926. He states that he grew up in a secular home, without significant Christian influence. As a boy he wanted to study science and mathematics. However in 1944, his education was interrupted when he was drafted by the German army. Moltmann was sent to the front lines in the Belgian forest. He surrendered in 1945 to the first British soldier he met.
For the next few years (1945–1948), he was confined as a prisoner of war and moved from camp to camp. First held in Belgium, he was later moved to Scotland and then to northern England. His experience as a POW had a powerful impact on his life, as it was in the camps that he had time to reflect upon the devastating nature of the Second World War. It was also in the camps that Moltmann met Christian chaplains, was given the New Testament and Psalms to read, and had his first introduction to Christian theology. Moltmann reflects about the war experience: ‘In July 1943 I was an air force auxiliary in a battery in the center of Hamburg, and barely survived the fire storm which the Royal Air Force's “Operation Gomorrah” let loose on the eastern part of the city. The friend standing next to me at the firing predictor was torn to pieces by the bomb that left me unscathed. That night I cried out to God for the first time: “My God, where are you?” And the question “Why am I not dead too?” has haunted me ever since’.
When the war was over, Moltmann returned to his home in Hamburg. As a result of his reading the Bible and theological texts in the POW camps and attending the Student Christian Movement conference in the summer of 1947 with a group of POWs, Moltmann decided to pursue theological training. He received his doctorate from the University of Göttingen, under the direction of Otto Weber in 1952. From 1952 to 1957 Moltmann was the pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen-Wasserhorst.
In 1958 Moltmann became a theology teacher at an academy in Wuppertal that was operated by the Confessing Church and in 1963 he joined the theological faculty of Bonn University. He was appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1994. From 1963 to 1983, Moltmann was a member of the Faith and Order Committee of the World Council of Churches. From 1983 to 1993, Moltmann was the Robert W. Woodruff Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 1984–1985. Moltmann won the 2000 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology.
Moltmann married the feminist theologian Elisabeth Wendel in 1952; they have four daughters.
Moltmann has contributed many books to the field of theology, including Theology of Hope (1964), The Crucified God (1972), Man (1974), The Church in the Power of the Spirit (1975), The Trinity and the Kingdom of God (1980), God in Creation (1985), The Way of Jesus Christ (1989), The Spirit of Life (1991), Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology (1993), The Coming of God (1995), How I Have Changed: Reflections on Thirty Years of Theology (1997), The Source of Life (1997), God for a Secular Society (1998), Experiences in Theology (2000), Science and Wisdom (2003) and In the End—The Beginning: The Life of Hope (2004). Books coauthored with his Dr. Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel include Humanity in God (1983), God-His and Hers (1991), and Passion for God: Theology in Two Voices (2003).