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Only Jesus (great song by Big Daddy)

What Did Jesus Say? (2012) - 7 topics 

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Gerd Ludemann: Paul Found of Christianity - Scholar Agrees Modern Adoption of Paul At Odds With Jesus

This book from 2002 (which you can read in large part at is at this link.

Here is the synopsis review at that link. It is amazing how parallel this scholar's view to our discoveries: (1) Jesus and Paul significantly differ; (2) the Christianity of today (not the Christianity of the first three centuries) reflects mostly Paul, and little of Jesus; and (3) Paul suffered from a self-deception -- which we attribute to the imposter Jesus whom Paul thought was the true Jesus.

Ludeman found these truths writing five well-regarded books, and has clear academic credentials:

New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann continues his exploration of the life and teachings of Paul in this groundbreaking monograph, which synthesizes the research of his four previous books on Christianity's leading apostle. As the subtitle of the present work makes clear, Lüdemann comes to the conclusion that Paul should be considered not only Christianity's most influential proselytizer but in truth deserves the title of founder of the religion that ostensibly originated with Jesus of Nazareth. Though other scholars have previously made the point that Paul's interpretation of the Christian message actually obscured the original teachings of Jesus, Lüdemann goes further. His painstaking historical research shows that Paul created the major tenets of the Christianity we know today and that his theology - an original synthesis of Hebrew and Greek belief systems - differs significantly from what we now know the historical Jesus to have preached. Based on a life-changing vision of the risen Christ, Paul naturally made his belief in the resurrection of the crucified Jesus the centerpiece of his interpretation of this new religion. But Lüdemann contends that however sincerely motivated he was, in the final analysis we must judge Paul's belief as self-deception. Paul never knew Jesus and he had only a passing acquaintance and an often-strained relationship with Jesus' apostles. As a result, he was not in a position to accurately represent Jesus' teachings. Through the accidents of history and his dynamic personality, his evangelizing efforts to the non-Jewish population of the Roman Empire succeeded, whereas the mission of other leading apostles (for example, Peter and James) to a mainly Jewish audience failed. Thus, Paul's version of Christianity, not Jesus', captured the public imagination and eventually became the dominant religion of the West. In another book, Lüdemann has called this historical accident The Great Deception. Here he shows that the deception began as self-deception within the deeply conflicted personality of Paul of Tarsus, the former Pharisee and zealous persecutor of the fledgling Christian sect whose dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus transformed him into its greatest promoter.This brilliant exegesis, based on twenty-five years of research, by a leading New Testament scholar with an unwavering commitment to historical accuracy presents a message rarely heard from any pulpit but one that churches can no longer honestly ignore.Gerd Lüdemann is a professor of the history and literature of early Christianity at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Professor Lüdemann's published conclusions about Christianity aroused great controversy in his native Germany, where the Confederation of Protestant Churches in Lower Saxony demanded his immediate dismissal from the theological faculty of his university. Despite this threat to his academic freedom, he has retained his post at the university, although the chair he holds was renamed to disassociate him from the training program of German pastors. Lüdemann is also the author of Jesus After 2000 Years, Paul: The Founder of Christianity, and The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry.

I aim to purchase and read and will update this page. 


Excerpts of Ludeman

Now I have purchased this work. I think the best way to review Ludeman is to excerpt portions that speak for themselves.

Page 18:

Criticism of Paul from other Christians

There are other New Testament documents from outside the Pauline groups, James and Second Peter, which reflect criticism of the Apostle. James criticizes Paul's doctrine that salvation is by faith alone, while Second Peter reflects the use of Paul's letters by heretics....
In addition, it should not be forgotten that Paul provoked a hostile reaction among many Christian groups that had ethnic Jewish origins.... In order to degrade him, members of these groups composed anti-Pauline accounts of which only fragments survive. The stories, which imply among other things that Gentile origin Paul, have been partly rehabilitated by modern interpreters of Paul; [footnote]....

Cf. J.B. Maccoby, Paul The Mythmaker and the Invention of Christianity (New York: Harper & Bro, 1986), and his Paul and Hellenism (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1991). See similarly A.N. Wilson, Paul: The Mind of the Apostle (New York: W. W. Martin & Company, 1997). There is an assessment of Wilson's book in N. T. Wright, What St. Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman's Company, 1997) at pages 167-83.

Times When Paul Rediscovered Marked Turns in Theology

Ludeman identifies three points in history where there were marked turns toward Paul.

Page 1

During the history of the church, the rediscovery of Paul has played a pivotal role for church life, as we can see in the great interpretations in the letter to the Romans by the church father Augustine (354 – 430) Fn1, the reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), and the greatest theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth (1886-1968). "In fact, one could almost write the history of Christian theology by surveying the ways in which Romans has been interpreted." (John Fitzmyr, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible) (New York: Doubleday, 1993) volume 33 at page xiii.)


1. To be sure, Augustine's great commentary on Romans remained unfinished. We do have an exposition of selected statements from Romans, and a detailed exegesis of Romans 1:1-7. On Augustine and other interpreters of Paul in the patristic era, Maurice Wiles, The Divine Apostle: The interpretation of St. Paul's is Epistles in the Early Church (Cambridge: University Press, 1967).


Sure Date of Paul's Trial was 51 AD

Page 22

[The] sole absolute datum for the life of Paul [is] the Gallio inscription. Since Gallio, the brother of the philosopher Seneca, held office in 51 – 52 AD, Acts 18:12 is taken as a sure indication that Paul stood trial before Gallio in that year. Further confirmation is then derived from Acts 18:2, which mentions the arrival of Priscilla and Aquila from Rome after the expulsion of the Jews (that year is assumed, on the basis of the later Christian source from the fifth century, to be 49 AD). Since these two dates confirm each other, especially as Acts 18:11 relates that Paul stood trial before Gallio 18 months after his arrival in Corinth, it is held that Luke's report of Paul's first mission is historically accurate. With the date of the mission on European soil relatively secure, other dates are reckoned both before and after this.


Inconsistency Between Galatians 1 and Acts 9

Paul in Galatians 1 says he left Damascus to Arabia, where his revelations (presumably from Jesus) began. Then, and only then, did Paul go to Jerusalem. However, in Acts 9, Luke relates Paul left after Damascus straight for Jerusalem. Ludeman favors Paul over Luke (I do not), and he relates:

Page 23-24:

Paul was not a delegate representing Antioch at the Jerusalem conference, nor was he a junior colleague of Barnabas. In Galatians 2:2, Paul writes that his reason for traveling to Jerusalem was a revelation. This seems to stand in tension with the Lukan view of Paul as a junior partner of Barnabas (Acts 11:25; 12:25)

Other scholars recognize conflict as well between Luke and Paul. These other scholars, like Ludemann, prefer Paul's veracity over that of Luke's correctness. However, I prefer Luke's correctness over Paul's veracity. Regardless, here is what Ludemann has to say:

The further observation that Luke differs from Paul at some basic points – both historically and theologically – renders it necessary to adopt a method for establishment of Paul's chronology which proceeds solely on the basis of the letters and only afterwards attempts a critical evaluation of Acts. On this point I'm indebted to Ferdinand Christian Bauer (1792-1860) and John Knox (1900-1990), who both acknowledge the vastly inferior value of Acts as the source of Paul's career in comparison to the Apostle's own letters. In 1845 F.C. Bauer wrote:

it would appear natural to suppose in all the cases where the account in Acts does not altogether agree with statements of the Apostle, the latter must have such a decided claim to be considered authentic truth that the contradictions would hardly be worth attention… The comparison of these two sources leads us to the conclusion that, considering the great differences between the two statements, historical truth must be entirely on one side or entirely on the other… The history of the Apostolic Age the Pauline epistles must in any case take precedence over all the other New Testament writings as an authentic source. [Footnote: F.C. Bauer, Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ (London/Edinburg: Williams & Norgate, 1875-76) Volume 1 at pages 4 et seq.)


My comment:

The problem with this is it assumes Paul is a better historian than Paul. Yet Paul boasts regularly, with obvious exaggeration, contradicts himself, and plays the chameleon in front of Luke. Only Luke is worthy of any trustworthiness.



Supposed Lukan Historical Errors

Ludeman identifies several errors supposedly in Luke. Whether they are errors or not will be investigated later. As Luke makes clear he writes as an historian, not under inspiration, it is not troubling if one or two errors appear. Regardless, here, for completeness, I will include this portion from Ludemann:

Page 24:

Luke's references to incidents in world history are often incorrect. I shall mention here only the following:

    1.  Acts 4:6 and Luke 3:2 incorrectly designate Annas, rather than Caiphas, as the high priest during the ministry of Jesus and after his death.
    2. Luke 2:1-2 incorrectly dates the census at least a decade; the census was also confined to Judea and Syria, and was not, as Luke reports, worldwide.
    3. Acts 5:36-37 incorrectly dates Theudus and blunders grossly by placing Judas the Galilean after Theudus.
    4. The assertion of a worldwide famine in Acts 11:28 contradicts both world history and Acts 11:29-30 itself, for there it is stated that the congregation Antioch was able to send aid to Jerusalem.

As to the latter, I would only comment that this is easily explained. Luke's use of the word worldwide in both Luke 2:1-2 and Acts 11:28 is itself proof of a usage of this word to mean a large area, not the entire planet.

Background on Ludemann

Gerd Ludemann appears to be highly skeptical and perhaps an atheist. To that extent, I am not agreeing with him.

For example, he depicts God as "cruel" for the slaughter of the Canaanites rather than as I see it... a product of holiness. In his debate over the resurrection, Ludemann's  point is to "leave God out of the resurrection of Jesus." See Part 13, Jesus' Resurrections. He cites Paul in 1 Cor. 15:37 that Jesus necessarily had to decay. But I disagree. Paul is talking about a seed has to "decompose" to give life which does not mean that Jesus necessarily decomposed completely. Paul made an analogy, and we cannot take it so literally, as does Ludemann.

I also cannot figure out Ludemann's points from this video. Ludemann says Jesus talked about resurrection of all. Some Jews did not believe in the resurrection.  Then Ludemann's debate time ends.  Ludemann made so few points, it is not clear what was his point.

So I went back to Ludemann's opening statement. He discusses that some claim he is an "atheist." He does not dispute that, but tries to argue for shades of meaning to it, and favors A-Theist...Not a theist.