Hermann Beckh (4 May 1875, Nuremberg – 1 March 1937, Stuttgart) was a pioneering German Tibetologist and prominent promoter of anthroposophy.
Hermann Beckh was born in Nuremberg to a factory owner, Eugen Beckh, and his wife Marie, née Seiler (died 1943). He had a sister some 12 years younger with whom he had a close friendship until she died in 1929.
Due to his unusual memory skills, he graduated from high school with excellent marks in 1893 and received a scholarship at the Munich Maximilianeum. Given his many interests and talents, he found the initial decision of field of study a difficult one; his peers encouraged him towards law. He completed his studies of law with a prizewinning thesis Die Beweislast nach dem Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuch (The Onus of Proof, from the Civil Law Code) and was employed as an assessor until 1899. It became clear to him that he was not made out to be a judge when he had to impose a fine on a poor married couple for stealing wood. He paid the couple's fine out of his own pocket and left his position.
He later took up the study of oriental languages, Indology, and Tibetology at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität at Kiel. In 1907, he received his doctorate at Humboldt-Universität at Berlin with a thesis on Kalidasa's poem Meghaduta. He received his final degree the following year with further work on this poem. He taught as a private tutor of the Tibetan language until 1921 and worked cataloguing Tibetan manuscripts at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin.
In 1911, he met Rudolf Steiner and Friedrich Rittelmeyer, which led to his intensive study of Steiner's work. On Christmas Day, 1912, he became a member of the Anthroposophical Society.
In 1916, Beckh was drafted into military service, shortly after Sammlung Göschen published two volumes about the Buddha and his teachings. Next stationed in the Balkans, he was called to work in the Institut für Weltwirtschaft an der Universität Kiel (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), where he evaluated economic reviews in Scandinavian newspapers. Due to his task, he was permitted to learn the Scandinavian languages in addition to the languages he already knew: English, French, Italian, Classical Greek and Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Old Persian. His civil obligations lasted until the next world war.
During that period, he resumed lecturing, but declined a teaching contract for Tibetan philology and went on vacation. He brought his vacation to an abrupt end when he was appointed to the position of "extraordinary professor", but ended his academic career in November 1921.
From 1920 onwards, he worked as a lecturer of anthroposophy. In March 1922, he joined the Gründerkreis (circle of priests) of The Christian Community and worked until his death as a priest, seminary teacher, lecturer, independent researcher and writer. In 1928, Beckh's Der kosmische Rhythmus im Markusevangelium ("Mark's Gospel: The Cosmic Rhythm") was published, in which he related the narration of the gospel of Mark to the path of the sun through the twelve zodiacal signs, and mentioned earlier work of Arthur Drews, Eduard Stucken (author of Astralmythen der Hebraeer, Babylonier, und Aegypter, Leipzig, 1896-1907) and Andrzej Niemojewski. In the Introduction to the sequel, Der kosmische Rhythmus, das Sternengeheimnis und Erdengeheimnis im Johannesevangelium ("The Cosmic Rhythm, the Secrets of the Stars and Earth in the Gospel of John") (1930), Beck mentioned favourably Wilhelm Kaiser's Die geometrischen Vorstellungen in der Astronomie (1928), and referred to The Novices of Sais, of Novalis. The cosmic rhythm in Beckh's exposition, he explained, was for Mark's gospel understood more in connection with the "earthly" zodiac of the signs, and for John's gospel more in connection with the "stellar" zodiac of the constellations, while, at the time of the beginning of the Christian era, these were coincident.
Beckh died in Stuttgart, in 1937.