Carl Gustav Adolf von Harnack (7 May 1851 – 10 June 1930) was a German Lutheran theologian and prominent church historian. He produced many religious publications from 1873 to 1912.
Harnack traced the influence of Hellenistic philosophy on early Christian writing and called on Christians to question the authenticity of doctrines that arose in the early Christian church. He rejected the historicity of the gospel of John in favor of the synoptic gospels, criticized the Apostles' Creed, and promoted the Social Gospel.
In the 19th century, higher criticism flourished in Germany, establishing the historical-critical method as an academic standard for interpreting the Bible and understanding the historical Jesus (see Tübingen school). Harnack's work is part of a reaction to Tübingen, and represents a reappraisal of tradition.
Besides his theological activities, Harnack was a distinguished organizer of sciences. He played an important role in the foundation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft and became its first president.
A US-Army Officer's Mess
Following a short period of Russian occupation, the US-Army assumed control of the Harnack House and converted it into an officer's mess. Among the first visitors was President Harry S. Truman and supreme commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the following years the Harnack House was adapted to the needs of the American military. Occasionally the House was opened to the Berliners. The German-American "Dahlem Music Society" organized concerts of world famous musicians like Yehudi Menuhin and Walter Gieseking, and the "Harnack House Club" included not only Americans but distinguished citizens from the political, economic and the social life of the city.
In order to meet the new demands placed on it, the House was constantly being renovated by the Army. In the final years of their stay they rented it out for weddings, dances, and bazaars - until 1994, when the Harnack-House was returned to the Max Planck Society.