What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection / Edition 1

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Dissatisfied with what he regarded as evasive answers given by theologians and scholars about the nature of the resurrection of Jesus, Gerd Ludemann subjected the New Testament traditions to a thorough investigation. In particular, Ludemann was concerned with the story of the empty tomb and the subsequent appearance stories first related by Peter. Ludemann reaches surprising and somewhat radical conclusions. This book, written for nonspecialists, presents Ludemann's provocative conclusions. Readers will find a positive, albeit revolutionary, new way of viewing the resurrection.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664256470
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,124,410
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerd Ludemann is Professor of New Testament at the University of Gottingen in Germany and Director of the Institute of Early Christian Studies. He taught for several years at Vanderbilt Divinity School and has authored several works of New Testament scholarship, including What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 The Theme 7
3 The Events after Jesus' Death 17
4 Consequences of the Results of the Investigation 131
Notes 138
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2006

    Nice try - But the Resurrection is a secure fact of history.

    ¿Let us say quite specifically: the tomb of Jesus was not empty, but full, and his body did not disappear, but rotted away¿ A consistent modern view must say farewell to the resurrection of Jesus as a historical event.¿ So concluded Gerd Ludemann in the closing pages of WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO JESUS: A HISTORICAL APPROACH TO THE RESURRECTION. With his goal a ¿purely historical investigation¿ Ludemann observed that since the evangelists were not neutral observers, he would treat everything said with skepticism, a hermeneutic of suspicion. He began with 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, a text containing a widely recognized early creed. Conceding that all the appearances mentioned occurred in the ¿first couple of years after the crucifixion of Jesus,¿ he nonetheless attempted to pry apart the appearances, casting doubt on when Paul reported each of them to the Corinthian church, so he could observe that ¿The final form of its tradition (what the appearances were like) had not yet been fixed.¿ The nature of the appearances, and their alleged ¿later¿ morph from vision to bodily resurrection, was very important for his subsequent argument about them. N.T. Wright, analyzing this passage, argued that Paul was merely appealing to bedrock facts that he knew were common knowledge in the Corinthian church. Wright observed as an aside that he found Ludemann¿s ¿traditio-historical analysis [of this passage] almost entirely worthless.¿ Cleverly, he used differences between the gospels to cast doubt on the details but then used similarities to argue for a common source and eliminate multiple attestation. With that he was able to sweep away the historicity of Jesus¿ burial, the women¿s Easter morning visit to the tomb and their role as first witnesses to the resurrection, plus Peter and John¿s tomb visits. All are ¿without historical value for the question of the `resurrection events.¿¿ Indeed his analysis revealed a presupposition beyond mere skepticism and suspicion. Ludemann seemed to favor a hermeneutic of deceit. The evangelists were not just biased but dishonest, inventing stories out of whole cloth to suit their apologetic needs. He would have us accept that a community called to lives of integrity, with Jesus Christ as their exemplar, would tolerate the fabrication of their foundational stories. Would Peter allow a story, a complete forgery, of his visiting the empty tomb to be invented twenty years hence? Would he die for such a story? Not likely. With the empty tomb so disposed, the contest moved to ¿visions¿ of the risen Jesus. Ludemann began his investigation by observing that ¿The accounts of the resurrection of Jesus¿ha[ve] nothing to do with the real historical event.¿ So what happened? Ludemann returned to the formula in 1 Cor 15. Visions began with Peter, mourning Jesus¿ death and his own failure in denying him, finding relief in a ¿seeing¿ or hallucination of the risen Jesus. Peter¿s vision provided the ¿initial spark¿ that prompted the rest of the visions. Let the reader judge for himself the adequacy of Ludemann¿s explanation for each vision. Hallucinations are subjective experiences of individual minds. As such they are not something that can be seen by a group of people. What then of the twelve and the five hundred? In Luke 24 the disciples were invited to touch Jesus and also watched him eat. Are we to believe that they all identically hallucinated this complex event? Ludemann sidestepped this problem by denying the historicity of the twelve despite multiple attestations including the early creed in 1 Cor 15. Though Luke, the careful historian, described an entirely different event, Ludemann attributed the five hundred to Pentecost, an event after the Ascension. Hallucinations typically require a particular, expectant state of mind. Yet Peter was consumed with guilt and remorse while James and Paul were respectively in denial and opposition. He attributed Paul¿s vision to a ¿Christ

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2006

    Resurrection of an Old Theory

    In this book, Gerd Lüdemann undertakes the worthy project of ascertaining whether or not Jesus Christ really rose from the dead. His method is to discuss each New Testament passage related to Jesus¿ burial, resurrection, and subsequent appearances. In the manner of the Jesus Seminar, he pronounces judgment on the historicity of each passage, concluding that most are unhistorical, based on conjecture and fanciful interpretations. Lüdemann¿s inevitable conclusion is that Christ¿s resurrection was not real, but rather a series of visions experienced by Peter, Paul, James, the other disciples, and more than 500 others. He says, ¿the critical investigation of the various resurrection appearances produced a surprising result: they can all be explained as visions¿ and also ¿the original seeing of the Easter witnesses was a seeing in the spirit they did not see a revived corpse.¿ He variously describes these visions as ¿psychological processes¿, ¿religious intoxication¿, ¿mass ecstasy¿, ¿mass psychoses¿, and ¿mass hysteria.¿ Lüdemann¿s theory is just one of many suggested naturalistic explanations of Christ¿s resurrection that have been around for centuries. Lüdemann¿s particular view falls into the category of hallucination theories¿the idea that Christ really did not rise from the dead and all the supposed witnesses of the resurrection actually had the same subjective vision. This theory was popular in the 19th century, but eventually fell out of favor. The problem with naturalistic hypotheses of the Resurrection is their nagging failure to explain all of the known data, namely the death of Jesus, his empty tomb, his many resurrection appearances, and the transformed lives of the disciples. The hallucination theory is no exception. Here are five reasons to disbelieve Lüdemann¿s theory. First, hallucinations are private, individual events. How could hundreds of people share exactly the same subjective visual perception? There were simply too many appearances, in too many different circumstances, to different groups of people to be explained as mass hallucination. Even if one thought that the phenomenon was an illusion, a perceptual misinterpretation of an objective reality, such as the Marian apparitions that are common today, it would be difficult to believe. These types of group experiences require a sense of expectation and emotional excitement. This was exactly the opposite of the disciples, who were depressed, frightened, and confused by the unexpected death of their friend. Furthermore, Jewish theology did not anticipate individual resurrections rather they believed in a corporate resurrection of the righteous at the end of time. Christ¿s followers were clearly not expecting him to be raised from the dead. Second, why did the hallucinations abruptly end after 40 days? Why didn¿t the eye-witnesses continue to have them as well as new believers? Third, wouldn¿t any of the witnesses try to touch the risen Christ and thereby discover the non-corporeal nature of their vision? In fact, the Gospels recount several such instances that demonstrate the bodily nature of Christ¿s resurrection, but Lüdemann simply dismisses all of them as unhistorical. Fourth, hallucinations do not transform lives. Studies have shown that those who have experienced hallucinations disavow them in the presence of others who have not ¿seen¿ the same thing. However, the disciples who were eye-witnesses to the resurrected Christ were beaten, tortured, and murdered while boldly preaching that Jesus died and came back to life. Fifth, if Christ really wasn¿t raised from the dead, then the fledgling religion could have been quickly crushed simply by exhuming his decaying body from the grave and thus proving to everyone that he was still dead. Lüdemann claims, ¿The tomb of Jesus was not empty, but full, and his body did not disappear, but rotted away.¿ However, the empty tomb is a well-attested fact and refuting it requires yet another naturali

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