I am reposting the ten blog posts made on April 18 (or thereabouts) in celebration of our tenth anniversary of the blog. Here now is a particularly important one from 2017; at the time I was working on my book How Jesus Became God and thinking hard about how to understand the early Christian claims that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
One of the first books that I have re-read in thinking about how it is the man Jesus came to be thought of as God is Gerd Lüdemann’s, The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (2004). Lüdemann is an important and interesting scholar. He was professor of New Testament at Göttingen in Germany, and for a number of years split his time between there and Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville. He is a major figure in scholarship, and is noteworthy for not being a Christian. He does not believe Jesus was literally, physically, raised from the dead, and he thinks that apart from belief in Jesus’ physical resurrection, it is not possible for a person to be Christian.
This book is written for people with a lot of background in New Testament studies. It is exegetically based, meaning that he goes into a detailed examination of key passages to uncover their literary meaning; but he is ultimately interested in historical questions of what really happened. To follow his exegesis (his interpretation) requires a good knowledge of how NT scholars argue their points: the book is aimed at other NT scholars and, say, graduate students in the field.
The basic historical conclusions that Lüdemann draws – based on a careful analysis of all the relevant passages and a consideration of the historical events that lie behind them – will strike many readers as radical:
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