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The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry [Kindle Edition]

Gerd Ludemann
2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Although the resurrection is the keystone dogma of Christian belief, and Sunday churchgoers rarely if ever think to question it, scholarly research shows with the utmost clarity that from a historical standpoint Jesus was not raised from the dead. In fact, it is almost universally recognized among scholars of New Testament textual criticism that the gospel narratives describing the resurrection appearances are not reliable eyewitness accounts, but expressions of faith written by the first Christian believers long after the death of Jesus.

In this thorough exegesis of the primary texts dealing with the resurrection of Jesus, New Testament expert Gerd Lüdemann (University of Göttingen) presents compelling evidence that shows the resurrection was not a historical event and further argues that this development leaves little, if any, basis for Christian faith as presently defined.

Beginning with Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. 15: 3-8, in which the apostle declares that Jesus "has been raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures," Lüdemann systematically evaluates every reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the New Testament, as well as apocryphal literature. He examines the purpose of the text writers, the ways in which they reworked tradition, and the historical value of each account. Through this approach, he offers a reconstruction of the probable course of events as well as the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross, the burial of his body, his reported resurrection on the third day, and subsequent appearances to various disciples.

Since the historical evidence leads to the firm conclusion that Jesus’ body was not raised from the dead, Lüdemann argues that the origin of the Easter faith must be sought in the visionary experiences of Christianity’s two leading apostles. From a modern perspective this leads to the inescapable conclusion that both primary witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, Peter and Paul, were victims of self-deception.
In conclusion, he asks whether in light of the nonhistoricity of Jesus’ resurrection, thinking people today can legitimately and in good conscience still call themselves Christians.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Argument has long raged over whether assessing early Christian texts about the Resurrection as historical sources is legitimate and important. Ludemann stands squarely in the Enlightenment camp of Tom Paine--revered in the U.S. for Common Sense, reviled for the later tract The Age of Reason--and Paine's detractors call Ludemann an Enlightenment fundamentalist. Ludemann insists that a purely historical reading is important because Christians and Christianity exercise authority based on a historical claim about an act of God. If the claim is false, that authority is illegitimate. Since the claim is based on the self-deception of Peter and Paul, and other historical evidence doesn't support it, Ludemann says that thinking people can no longer call themselves Christians in good faith. This may be preaching to the choir of those against using religious, metaphysical, and ideological claims to contain historical investigations, but it is clear and succinct. The translation and historical assessment of Resurrection accounts that constitute the bulk of the book make it useful for students in and out of the choir. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Inside Flap

Although Christianity is anchored to the doctrine of the resurrection, historical research shows that from a historical standpoint Jesus was not raised from the dead. In the thorough explanation and discussion of the primary texts dealing with the claimed resurrection of Christ, New Testament expert Gerd Ludemann presents compelling evidence to show that the resurrection was not a historical event, and he further argues that this development leaves little, if any, basis for Christian faith as presently defined.

Ludemann offers fresh translations of the mist important early Christian texts concerning Jesus' alleged resurrection and assesses their historical value. Beginning with Paul's testimony in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, in which the apostle declares that Jesus "has been raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures," and then turning to the texts of the Gospels and of other noncanonical early Christian texts, Ludemann systematically evaluates every reference to Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament, as well as in apocryphal literature. In each case he examines the purpose of the authors of these texts, reconstructs the tradition they reworked, and assesses the historical value of each account.

Since the historical evidence leads to the firm conclusion that Jesus' body was not raised from the dead, Ludemann argues that the origin of the Easter story must be sought in the visionary experiences of Christianity's two leading apostles. From a modern perspective, this leads to the inescapable conclusion that both primary witnesses to Jesus' claimed resurrection, Peter and Paul, were victims of self-deception. In conclusion, he asks whether in light of the nonhistoricity of Jesus' resurrection, thinking people today can in good conscience still call themselves Christians.


Product Details

  • File Size: 2213 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 1, 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003980P6Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,758 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
What's good in the book:

* Ludemann does well at picking apart the resurrection narratives and their surrounding text. For example, he points out that Mark has Joseph of Arimathea buy a linen cloth on Friday evening (Mark 15:42-47), which would have been the Sabbath. (In the Jewish calendar, a new day starts on the evening of the previous day, so Sabbath lasts from Friday evening to Saturday evening.)

* Ludemann does not try to twist the texts to argue for a "spiritual" resurrection that is hardly more than one's spirit going to Heaven while the body is left behind.

What's not so good:

* His thesis overreaches. If the thesis had been that his reconstruction of the resurrection narratives made a supernatural explanation unnecessary, then he would have at least shown that his case was plausible, if not proved it. Instead, he goes beyond his evidence to assert that his historical explanation showed conclusively that Jesus did not rise from the dead.

* He does not deal directly with the objection made by N. T. Wright that a vision of Jesus would have been interpreted as Jesus' "angel" rather than as a sign that Jesus was resurrected, and gives the quick brush-off to objections that the disciples would have needed appearances of Jesus more solid than mere hallucinations. He could have done more here.

The book falls short of being the proof against Christianity that Ludemann wants it to be, but it has some useful analysis.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I See Dead People October 17, 2007
Format:Hardcover
There were all kinds of pagan miracles, and quite a few Christian miracles, reported in ancient times. If Lazarus, and the dead guy from Na'in, and the little girl, and Jesus, and the "many" saints, and the woman Peter raised, and the young man named Eutychus Paul raised...were all raised from the dead...what's the big deal about Jesus being raised? If the "many" were at least three, that's at least nine. Plus at least two from the OT. Are there more? In any event, this raising of the dead seems to have been a pretty popular theme.

It is naturally upsetting to Christians to have the central event of their faith disputed and I don't think Ludemann does a particularly tactful job of it. In the ancient world far out stories of miracles were commonplace. Vespasian healed a blind man with spittle (just like Jesus!) and healed a lame man or a man with a diseased hand (or leg,depending on the source).

The miracle cures at Asclepius' cult centers at Epidaurus and Pergamum are documented by many surviving inscriptions on stone stelae, and constitute an extensive and remarkable record. That there were many more on terracotta plaques that have not survived is known from reliable ancient descriptions of the sites. So the god Asclepius seems to have been pretty active in the miracle healing line.

We have no mental difficulty dismissing the pagan miracles, because we don't really believe in miracles and think there were credulous ancient folks much-given to exaggeration making these reports. It's not that the evidence isn't good enough. It's just that we don't find it credible on the face of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Art
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gerd Ludemann is a scholar who does an excellent analysis of the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. A very detailed analysis and therefore not an easy read. I would definately recommend this book to anyone who is serious about understanding the Christian claim of the resurrection of Jesus and the historicity of the event.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Logic Of Hope June 28, 2014
Format:Hardcover
In the year 29, Livia, the mother of the Roman emperor died,and,as she had
enjoyed the admiration of the people everywhere,came to be worshipped as a
goddess(Woodman,"The Tiberian Narrative",p.274,citing Velleius Paterculus[c.
30 C.E.]).In the year 31(or 34),a man appeared claiming to be the emperor's son
Drusus,who had died in 23,and,"aided by Greek avidity for the new and strange",
ignorant recruits were drawn to him,and he raised followers in Greece(Tacitus
"Annals" 5.10):(Cassius Dio "Roman History" 58.25.1).
Clearly then,around the time Jesus died,c.30 C.E.,if someone popular or
important passed from the scene,they could be worshipped as a deity or heralded
as risen from the dead.And so there is little doubt in the minds of historians that
this is almost certainly what the followers of Jesus did for their Lord.
"The religiously and philosophically controlled view of life in antiquity finally
perceives the recognition of man by deity in the fact that the deity takes man to
himself.This may be manifested in an early death,but the person may also be
deified"(Preisker in Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament vol.4,p.706).
The term "euaggelion"(good news)preached by the Christians was also used by
the imperial cult and declared that the ruler is divine by nature,with Plutarch(c.46-
120 C.E.)indicating that the wind and waves are subject to such a figure(cp.Mark
4:41).And at his death signs in heaven declare his assumption into the ranks of
the gods,even as Philo Judaeus,the Jewish contemporary of Jesus,believed that
Moses had ascended to God and was deified(Friedrich in Theological Dictionary Of
The New Testament vol.2,p.724).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Objectivity would be nice
If I had to choose one word to describe Ludemann's book, I would have to select "disappointing." Is it too much to ask for objectivity? Read more
Published on October 19, 2008 by Jeff Henry
2.0 out of 5 stars Well,....
Two years ago I left the Christian faith after ten years of extremely zealous study and service. My reason for leaving was my inability to reconcile the cosmological facts I... Read more
Published on November 25, 2007 by Dragongunner3011
1.0 out of 5 stars Conclusions based on false premises
The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. By Gerd Ludemann. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Book, 2004. 245 pages. Hardcover; $27.00. ISBN: 1591022452. Read more
Published on October 11, 2007 by Paul McMillian
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative
Ludemann does his usual masterful dissection of the Gospels et al to show the resurrection for what it is/was--a powerful visionary experience. Read more
Published on May 31, 2007 by Sean Holderread
1.0 out of 5 stars Historical Inquiry?
The conclusions Gerd Lüdemann reaches in his book should lay to rest any questions regarding the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, however his... Read more
Published on September 29, 2006 by K. Osteroos
2.0 out of 5 stars Ludemann's Analysis of the Historical Data is Flawed
Gerd Lüdemann begins his historical inquiry into the question of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by writing in chapter 1: "... Read more
Published on September 26, 2006 by Justin McMurdie
1.0 out of 5 stars Indoctrination In Incoherence
In his book The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry, Gerd Ludemann examines the question of the resurrection by employing historical-critical methods. Read more
Published on September 20, 2006 by Michael Sewell
1.0 out of 5 stars Ludemann's Hallucination!
Gerd Ludemann writes, "historical research shows with definite clarity that Jesus was not raised from the dead...we must acknowledge...a worldwide historical hoax", (190). Read more
Published on September 18, 2006 by Patrick
1.0 out of 5 stars Hardly Historical
This is anything but a "historical inquiry" into the New Testament accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read more
Published on September 7, 2006 by Arnie E. Gentile
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