The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From the Inside Flap
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.
- Hardcover : 248 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1591022452
- ISBN-13 : 978-1591022459
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.23 x 0.8 x 9.27 inches
- Publisher : Prometheus (October 1, 2004)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,457,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Considering the significant advances in the 20th century regarding New Testament (NT) criticism and exegesis Ludemann, in order to maintain any credibility, does follow the majority of scholarly thought regarding the historical Jesus. Clearly there was a man called Jesus and he admits to the death of Jesus by crucifixion and the need to take Jesus down from the cross before the Sabbath (pg. 172). Ludemann also agrees with the majority of scholars regarding the historicity and significance of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (pages 40-43). The verses were written by Paul and contain early creedal theology, "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures and that he was buried, that he has been raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures..." and goes on to cite the appearances of Jesus. Significantly, the majority of theologians, even those critical to the resurrection theory, place this passage very early in Christian history (possibility as early as A.D. 55). This means the death and resurrection creed cited by Paul is already tradition. This leaves Ludemann in a real quandary. There are only three possible avenues he can turn to:
1) Those who claimed to see Jesus were lying.
2) They actually saw the risen Jesus.
3) They hallucinated.
Claiming they all lied is problematic as it has been generally accepted the "witnesses" suffered persecution, solitary and deprived lives, with nearly all ending in martyrdom. Hardly a motivation to maintain a lie. Since Ludemann's worldview will not allow the possibility they actually saw the risen Jesus he is only left with hallucinations. This is where all pretense of objectivity is abandoned. He discards most of the NT eyewitness accounts as worthless. Of course, this makes his thesis much easier. What is left are Paul and Peter, and any others who claimed to have seen Jesus have to be suffering mass hallucinations. Ludemann becomes an armchair psychologist and attempts to delve into Paul's psyche as a persecutor of Jews and how this "appearance" was basically a psychotic breakdown. He discounts what would seem relevant, including the account in Acts of how the appearance left Paul blind, but later miraculously healed. It seems that would be relevant when looking at the totality of the circumstances and lend to Paul's bona fides as prosecutor turned convert, especially when the story was confirmed to the apostles by Ananias (see Acts 9).
Ludemann's psychological analysis veers even further off the tracks as he tries to justify his "hallucinations" theory by appealing to other events. His scholarship is spotty, to be kind, but frankly, the more accurate term would be fraudulent. Not only is it impossible for Ludemann to know the psychology and diversity of all the reported appearances, he knows full well he is reaching back to nineteenth-century theory and "few recent scholars have pursued these avenues." (see Habermas, The Risen Jesus & Future Hope, page10).
Ludemann also knows there is the problem of the empty tomb. Once again, Ludemann dismisses the NT passages that are problematic for his theory, gives no credence to accounts of the women who were at the tomb, and he seems to believe that by quoting John Dominic Crossan (page 69) , Thomas Paine (page 177), and Ernest Renan (page 175) it somehow lends credence to his positions when, in fact, the quotations from others are only baseless opinion and add nothing of substance. Another problem is that when the NT accounts don't suit him, he simply decides they are not reliable without convincing reasoning. However, he finds value in passages from Gnostic gospels. This is ironic as the Gnostic gospels are clearly written much later than the NT passages, or even that of the early church fathers. For example, he completely ignores the writings of Polycarp (70-156 AD), Ignatius of Antioch (35-107), and Clement of Rome, all who bear testimony as to the "eye-witnesses." He completely ignores the story of St. Thomas who wanted to feel the wounds of Christ. And yet if that did not happen, how would he explain the Chaldean tradition of St. Thomas, who ministered to what is present day Iraq and is said to have been martyred in India? (see [...])
For those of you who are familiar with the writings of Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles, she is known for her detailed research. It is interesting that she has returned to the Catholic faith and now writes novels about Jesus. I ran across an interview she gave where she comments about those involved in the Jesus Seminar and other skeptics concerning the resurrection of Jesus. She said, "As I plunged into modern Bible scholarship, I assumed the skeptics would be right...I have never seen sloppier scholarship in any field of study than what I saw in so-called biblical scholarship. I soon realized that the skeptical scholars had very little evidence at all of their extravagant theories and they were anti-supernaturalists." ([...]) I don't know if she was specifically referring to Ludemann's book, but the criticism applies to him as well.