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Jesus After 2000 Years: What He Really Said and Did [Kindle Edition]

Gerd Ludemann
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

It is widely recognized by New Testament scholars that many of the sayings and actions attributed to Jesus in the gospels cannot be factually traced to him. The gospels, written many decades after the death of Jesus, are composites of hearsay, legends, and theological interpolations, reflecting the hopes and beliefs of the early Christian community more than the actual teachings of the Galilean prophet.

Despite these difficulties, Gerd Lüdemann shows in this fascinating analysis of early Christian documents that the tools of historical research can succeed in reaching at least a close approximation of some of the original words and deeds of Jesus. Unique in its comprehensiveness, Jesus After 2000 Years covers the canonical gospels, as well as the more recently discovered Gospel of Thomas and apocryphal Jesus traditions. Lüdemann concludes with a short life of Jesus in which he pieces together in narrative form what can be known about Jesus based on the historical evidence. Also included is an index of all authentic sayings and actions of Jesus. For all those with an interest in Christian origins, this volume is an invaluable resource.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...provocative and compelling..." -- Journal of Church and State, Spring, 2001

"Excellent!" -- Free Inquiry

From the Inside Flap

It is widely recognized by New Testament scholars that many of the sayings and actions attributed to Jesus in the gospels cannot be factually traced to him. The gospels, written many decades after the death of Jesus, are composites of hearsay, legends, and theological interpretations, reflecting the hopes and beliefs of the early Christian community more than the actual teachings of the Galilean prophet.

Despite these difficulties, Gerd Ludemann shows in this fascinating analysis of early Christian documents that the tools of historical research can succeed in reaching at least a close approximation of some of the original words and deeds of Jesus. Ludemann first establishes the criteria by which the alleged words and actions of Jesus can be judged authentic or inauthentic. He then examines every text about Jesus from the first two centuries. By this careful methodology, he is able to separate what the historical Jesus actually said and did from inaccurate legends later attached to his name.

Unique in its comprehensiveness, JESUS AFTER 2000 YEARS covers the canonical gospels, as well as the more recently discovered Gospel of Thomas and apocryphal Jesus traditions. Ludemann concludes with a short life of Jesus in which he pieces together in narrative form what can be known about Jesus based on the historical evidence. Also included is an index of all authentic sayings and actions of Jesus.

JESUS AFTER 2000 YEARS is not a secondary survey of the work of others, nor does it take a thematic approach. Rather, all the extant traditions of Jesus from the first two centuries are retranslated, after which their historical accuracy is investigated in a way that even the educated lay reader can follow.

For all those wtih an interest in Christian origins, this volume is an invaluable resource.


Product Details

  • File Size: 7523 KB
  • Print Length: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (May 31, 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0038BQZHK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,221 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful commentary on the ancient gospels July 23, 2003
Format:Hardcover
If you liked The Five Gospels, you'll love Jesus After 2000 Years.
Gerd Luedemann is a scholar based in Germany who participated in the Jesus Seminar and recently came out as a non-Christian (explained in his book The Great Deception). Having read five of his books, I must say that "Jesus After 2000 Years" is my favorite and the one that I have found the most useful. It is not more popularizing pablum on the historical Jesus. Rather, it is a critical commentary on the ancient texts: the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John (by Frank Schleritt), the Gospel of Thomas, and the Apocryphal Jesus Traditions (by Martina Janssen). As Luedemann says in the preface: "My plan is to offer a new translation of the most important extant traditions about Jesus in the first two centuries and then to investigate their historical credibility, in such a way that educated lay people, too, can follow the argument."
The format of the book is brilliant. Each section begins with a fresh translation of the text; for example, the first is Mark 1.1-8, starting with "Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Those portions of the text that apparently belong to the creation of the gospel writer are presented in italic text. Following the translation is a section on "Redaction and tradition." In this section we find commentary on the meaning of the text, such as "This sums up the whole Gospel of Mark, which sets out to be the gospel of Jesus Christ." Finally, there is a section titled "Historical" in which the value of the tradition for reconstructing history is presented, such as, "John the Baptist practised baptism for repentance by the Jordan; by it the sins of those being baptized will be forgiven on the day of judgment, which is imminent.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference Work June 20, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Gerd Lüdemann's ambitious Jesus After 2000 Years represents an attempt at what Lüdemann describes as a "long overdue" historical stocktaking of the writings about Jesus, including both canonical and non-canonical writings. Lüdemann's expressed aim is to produce a comprehensive work that is accessible to the lay reader, not a life of Jesus, which he says is not currently possible, but an historical analysis of what people said about him later. In this aim he is admirably and thoroughly successful, producing a work of unexcelled usefulness and clarity that should become a well-thumbed entry on the bookshelf of every person interested in New Testament research and writing.

Lüdemann's masterwork covers nearly 700 pages, the standard size in a field where gigantic tomes are the norm. It is broken up into three major sections: a short introduction laying out his historical methodology, a weighty second section that offers a pericope-by-pericope study of the canonical gospels, and a shorter section on the non-canonical gospels. A short final chapter offers a life of Jesus in extremely tentative form. There is no review of the letters of Paul.

The key section of the book is the analysis of the Canonical gospels. Each pericope is presented in a fixed format. First the text of the gospel is presented, with redactional additions from each evangelist printed in italics. Lüdemann then presents a quick verse by verse discussion of the redaction and tradition history, followed by a separate section on historicity. To save space, Lüdemann simply presents his conclusion. For example, on Luke 8:1-3, he writes: "Apart from the names, the historical yield is nil.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuts through the clutter to the _history_ of Jesus February 20, 2004
Format:Hardcover
This book was recommended to me from a friend when I mentioned that I understood that different parts of the bible were written at different times, but didn't know what was added by enthusiastic translators/editors.
This book clearly answers that question.
Jesus After 200 Years is a 700 page tome that is a little intimidating when you first get your hands on it. However, the book is broken down into seven manageable chapters (not including the important-to-read introduction). Basically, it starts with the earliest known written gospel, Mark, and works backwards in cronology to Matthew, Luke, and John. Chapter five examines the gospel of Thomas; six looks at Apocryphal Jesus Traditions and the final chapter is a nine page biographical-summary description of the _historical_ life of Jesus -written as though he were an ancient secular historical figure.
Here is what the book so interesting and valuable. For every bible passage the author indicates which portion is true to the earliest known records/version of the bible, and which portion was added/embellished at a later date. Incredibly insightful!
The book is very "readable" because, as the author explains in his preface, he has not cited every source for every little thing, so you are not bombarded by subscripts and superscripts. To quote, "They say nothing to lay people and specialists know them anyway." (There are plenty of authors cited in the book, just not the particular article or book they wrote that he is pulling from.)
As another reviewer mentioned, this is not a book that you read cover-to-cover. Instead, you should read the introduction to all of the chapters and then reference the book when examining certain sections of the bible.
If you have a bible on your bookshelf, you need to have this next to it.
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