Angelika Neuwirth was born in 1943. She studied Persian language and literature in Tehran, Semitic studies, Arabic, and Classical philology at the University of Göttingen, and Arabic and Islamic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She earned her doctorate in Göttingen in 1972, and in 1977 she completed the habilitation process at LMU Munich in Arabic and Islamic studies.
Neuwirth taught Arab philosophy for six years at the University of Jordan in Amman, where she headed a section at the Royal Academy for Islamic Civilization from 1981 to 1983. From 1984 to 1991 she worked at the University of Bamberg, before she was appointed to a professorship of Arabic at Freie Universität Berlin. From 1994 to 1999 she was director of the Oriental Institute of the German Oriental Society in Beirut and Istanbul.
In 1996 Neuwirth was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class for her services to cultural cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Lebanon. In 2006 she was honored with the Award of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation, and in 2008 she was appointed to the Cultural Sciences Section of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Neuwirth received honorary doctorates from the universities of Bamberg, Basel, Salzburg, and Yale, is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2013 was awarded the Sigmund Freud Prize and the Muhammad Nafi Tschelebi Prize for the promotion of interreligious dialogue between religions, traditions, and cultures.
The Dr. Leopold Lucas Prize is endowed with 50,000 euros and honors outstanding achievements in the fields of theology, intellectual history, historiography, and philosophy. It is awarded to individuals who have also contributed to spreading the idea of tolerance and who have promoted relations between individuals and peoples. Consul general Franz D. Lucas, an honorary senator of the University of Tübingen, established the prize in 1972 to mark the 100th birthday of his father, the Jewish scholar and rabbi, Dr. Leopold Lucas, who was born in 1872 in Marburg/Lahn and died in 1943 in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The Faculty of Protestant Theology awards the prize annually on behalf of the University of Tübingen.
The previous winners include scholars such as Schalom Ben-Chorin (1974), Karl Raimund Popper (1981), Karl Rahner (1982), Fritz Stern and Hans Jonas (1984), Paul Ricoeur (1989), Moshe Zimmermann (2002), Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (2005), Dieter Henrich (2008), Seyla Benhabib (2012), and Giorgio Agamben (2013), and also representatives of religious life, such as the 14th Dalai Lama (1988), the Polish Archbishop Hendrik Muszynski (1997), and the Portestant Bishop Eduard Lohse (2007), or representatives of culture and politics, such as the Senegalese poet and statesman Léopold Sédor Senghor (1983) and the former German President Richard von Weizsäcker (2000). Last year the prize went to the Jewish studies scholar Peter Schäfer, who taught and conducted research at Freie Universität Berlin for many years.