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Gerd Lüdemann (born 5 July 1946 in Visselhövede, Lower Saxony), is a German New Testament scholar. He taught this subject from 1983 to 1999 at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Göttingen. Since 1999 he has taught there with a special status as Chair of History and Literature of Early Christianity. He is married with four children and seven grandchildren.

After periods of teaching and research at McMaster University (1977–79) and Vanderbilt University (1979–82), he was appointed in 1983 to the Chair in New Testament Studies in the Theological Faculty of the University of Göttingen. Following a series of historically critical publications culminating in the publication of his book Der große Betrug: Und was Jesus wirklich sagte und tat (The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did) in 1999, in which he argued that only about five per cent of the sayings attributed to Jesus are genuine and the historical evidence does not support the claims of traditional Christianity, the Confederation of Protestant Churches in Lower Saxony called for his dismissal from the Chair of New Testament Studies. Lüdemann stated that his studies convinced him that his previous Christian faith, based as it was on Biblical Studies, had become impossible: 'the person of Jesus himself becomes insufficient as a foundation of faith once most of the New Testament statements about him have proved to be later interpretations by the community'.[1]

Although the call for his dismissal was rejected by the state government of Lower Saxony, the members of the faculty, under pressure from the Church, complained to the University President that Professor Lüdemann had "fundamentally put in question the intrinsic soundness of Protestant theology at the University". As a result the Chair of New Testament was renamed the Chair of History and Literature of Early Christianity, his research funding was cut and his teaching was no longer part of the curriculum. Lüdemann complained that 'most of my colleagues have long since left the principles of the Church behind them yet still seek to attach themselves to this tradition by symbolic interpretation and by other interpretative skills'.[1]

In 1997 and in 2002, he debated William Lane Craig over Jesus' resurrection.[2]

Lüdemann's first student under his new title of Prof. of History and Literature of Early Christianity completed a PhD in Göttingen University's faculty of humanities in 2017.


  1. ^ a b Gerd Lüdemann, 'The Decline of Academic Theology at Göttingen', Religion (2002) 32, 87–94 doi:10.1006/reli.2002.0411
  2. ^ Video on YouTube

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