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Heretics: The Other Side of Christianity Hardcover – August 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st ptg edition (August 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664220851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664220853
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,917,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ludemann's critical examination of "holy scripture and its authority" is a meticulous historical investigation of early Christianity that seeks "to direct attention once again to Jesus." General readers may find the extensive documentation intimidating; but the argument is accessible, and the documentation is tucked away in notes. Beginning with Lessing's insight that the New Testament was a work of the Catholic Church and Lessing's claim that we may draw our own conclusions about Jesus, Ludemann sets about to welcome the heretics of primitive Christianity back into the Christian community as valuable human witnesses to the human Jesus. A heretic is one who makes a choice, and Ludemann notes that this was done on all sides in the processes of canonization by which the New Testament was formed, just as it must be done by contemporary Christians who would draw conclusions for the present from historical reconstructions. No doubt, some readers will be put off by Ludemann's assertion that the Bible is the word of human beings, not the word of God. Steve Schroeder

Review

In Heretics, Gerd Ludemann argues that the time from the first Christian communities to the end of the second century was not a period of great harmony, but was defined by the struggles of various Christian groups for doctrinal authority. Drawing on a wealth of data, Ludemann asserts that the losers in the struggle actually represented Christianity in its more authentic, original form. Since Orthodoxy has been defined by the victors in this struggle, it is the silenced alternative views that have been labeled "heretical". Ludemann's findings are important as well as liberating for understanding both Christianity and the Bible. Readers will gain a new understanding of Jesus and the early church from this compelling and controversial book. Heretics is a model of historical scholarship and theological investigation. Indeed, the first recorded clash and conflict over doctrinal propriety took place in the Jerusalem Christian community when Paul sought a cessation of the practice of circumcision and the abolition of certain dietary prohibitions. The subsequent debates regarding the nature of God, the definition of what would be come reliable scripture, the theology and doctrines of Christianity would rage around the rim of the Mediterranean and result in schism, conflict, commissions, and conferences. Heretics is the informative history of those fascinating times. -- Midwest Book Review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Bernhard W. Hoff on August 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ludemann's main point appears to be that ALL Christians in the first century or so after Jesus were regarded as heretics by one or another group of their fellow Christians. Everyone, it seems, had their turn at being orthodox or heretical, even the original Jewish Christians and St. Paul himself. Ludemann convincingly illustrates these conflicts from the New Testament and other first and second century texts, most of which still are embraced as orthodox today (e.g. the Apostles' Creed, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr). But Ludemann goes beyond the mere fact of factions within the early church to consider why, and what it all might mean, even to us today.
Ludemann locates the source of the problem in the natural human response to Jesus' ministry and subsequent death. Jesus "lived out for his disciples the message of the boundless love and grace of God - in words and actions" to quote from this book. This love and grace is available to the poor, the outcast and the lost even without temple sacrifices and ritual observances. His message was also apocalyptic, that the kingdom of God (including the physical resurrection of the dead - a widely held belief in Judaism at the time) was at hand. Unlike other apocalyptic messages, He also taught that we humans can live the Kingdom of God now before it actually comes. This message of living the Kingdom of God attracted a wide and fervent following of believers who then tried to make sense of Jesus' death in light of his radical and apocalyptic message and eventually in light of the fact that the Kingdom did not come. The various "heretics" and indeed the emerging Catholic orthodoxy itself, each understood more fully different parts of Jesus' message and accordingly so emphasized them in their doctrines.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If history is written by the victors, then it makes sense that the losers would have a different - though equally valid - viewpoint. "Heretics" provides just this view of the man we call Jesus. After 2000 years you wouldn't think there was much new that could be said on the subject - Gerd Ludemann has proved this wrong! Like the equally contentious, yet inspiring, "The Autobiography of Jesus of Nazareth and the Missing years" by Richard G. Patton, this book does sound true! It does make sense that there would be this power struggle as each of the different 'Christian' Church's wanted their definition of Jesus to be the 'official' version. This book will make you question, but ultimately reaffirm your belief in the Man from Nazareth. Excellent reading.
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7 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
How can we view findings about Jesus of Nazareth when there was no Nazareth at the time of Jesus. My readings conclusively tell me that Nazareth came into existance well after the time of Christ.
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