Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Gerd Lüdemann, A Letter to Jesus

Thanks to Gerd Lüdemann for sending over this link. It is an Australian radio programme called The Spirit of Things and this episode from 4 April 2004 is an interview with Gerd Lüdemann:

A Letter to Jesus
Gerd Ludemann is a world-renowned New Testament scholar at the University of Gottingen in Germany. After publishing 'A Letter to Jesus' declaring his loss of faith, the University of Gottingen, removed his courses from the theological faculty. A cause celebre among biblical scholars, Ludemann's predicament raises issues about the relationship between scholarship and personal faith. In this special interview Ludemann bares his soul and his thoughts about who Jesus really was.
There is a full programme transcript available from the link above -- would that more radio programmes would provide this! This excerpt shows Lüdemann summarising his journey away from Jesus:
First I examined the Resurrection of Jesus, because I was told by my church, and by the confession of the church, that the risen Lord is the Lord of the universe, and I wrote a book about the Resurrection, had to conclude that Jesus didn’t rise, that his body rotted away and that Resurrection meant the vision of the risen one, that is a vision, a dream. And nobody will trust his or her dream, so I had to abandon that approach of theology to trust in the risen one, and I turned to Jesus, and thought, Well, if he didn’t rise, there’s a possibility that the authority of Jesus’ words and deeds might be the basis of future faith.

So I was looking for a new way of believing or remaining a believer. And I had to conclude that roughly 85% of the words of Jesus actually go back to the community that made these words up and don’t go back to Jesus, which created another crisis. I had to ask Who was Jesus? Why should Jesus be the basis for my own religion? Because historical investigation showed that Jesus was a Jew and did not go to the Gentiles. So basically I had to decide either to follow Jesus and become a Jew or to respect Jesus as a Jew of his days and abandon Christianity, or at least traditional Christianity, and that’s what I did.

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