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Stephan Jakob Neher

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Church historian ; b. at Ebnat, 24 July, 1829; d. at Nordhausen, 7 Oct., 1902. His family were country people of Ebnat, a village in the district of Neresheim in Würtemberg, and upon the conclusion of his studies in the gymnasium Neher devoted himself to the study of theology in the University of Tübingen. After his ordination, he laboured as pastor of Dorfmerkingen, then of Zübingen, and finally of Nordhausen (in the district of Ellwangen, Würtemberg ). In addition, Neher devoted himself throughout his life to intellectual pursuits, principally to canon law and church history, giving his attention, in the latter study, chiefly to the two branch sciences of ecclesiastical geography and ecclesiastical statistics , in which he acccomplished great results. In his first considerable work, which appeared in 1861, he deals with the topic of the privileged Altar ( altare privilegiatum ). In 1864 he published the first volume of his great and carefully planned work, "Kirchliche Geographie und Statistik", which comprises three volumes (Ratisbon, 1864-68). It was, for that day, a most important work, indispensable to historians. Its author was one of the first in modern times to recognize the importance of this branch of church history, collecting with great care material often very difficult to procure, and arranging it systematically. His book on the celebration of two Masses by a priest on the same day pertains to canon law, and it bears the title: "Die Bination nach ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung und nach dem heutigen Recht" (Ratisbon, 1874). After 1878 Neher edited the statistical "Personalkatalog" of his own diocese of Rottenburg, and was one of the principal contributors to the second edition of the Kirchenlexikon of Wetzer and Welte. For this work he wrote no fewer than 235 articles, or greater parts of articles. Their content is chiefly matter relating to church history, or to ecclesiastical statistics ; his best articles are those relating to the latter subject; those of purely historical interest are often imperfect.

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