World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Helmut Koester

Helmut Koester (born 1926, Hamburg) is a German-born American scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. His research is primarily in the areas of New Testament interpretation, history of early Christianity, and archaeology of the early Christian period.


Koester studied under Rudolf Bultmann at the University of Marburg, Germany, after being released from a POW camp there in 1945. He submitted his dissertation in 1954, and then became an assistant to Günther Bornkamm at the University of Heidelberg from 1954-1956. Koester began teaching at Harvard Divinity School in 1958 and became John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History in 2000. Although now emeritus, he continues to teach at Harvard University. Koester is co-editor and chair of the New Testament editorial board of the commentary series "Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible" published by Fortress Press (Minneapolis). He has served as the president of the Society of Biblical Literature (1991), is a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS) and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Koester is an ordained minister of the Lutheran Church. In 1953, he married Gisela Harrassowitz, with whom he had four children, named Reinhild, Almut, Ulrich, and Heiko. He has three grandchildren including Christopher, Lukas, and Alexander.


In his dissertation (published as Synoptische Überlieferung bei den Apostolischen Vätern, i.e. "Synoptic tradition in the Apostolic Fathers"), Koester was able to demonstrate that much material in the so-called Apostolic Fathers that parallels elements in the Synoptic Gospels need not necessarily reflect dependence upon the written form of the Synoptics known to us. This was an extremely significant observation, and one with which all subsequent scholarship on early Christian gospel traditions would have to reckon. Among his numerous subsequent publications, his two-volume Introduction to the New Testament has become a standard reference work.

Select Publications

  • Synoptische Überlieferung bei den Apostolischen Vätern (TU 65; Berlin 1957)
  • with James M. Robinson. Trajectories through Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971. Reprinted, Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006. (ISBN 159752736X)
  • Ancient Christian Gospels. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1990. (ISBN 0334024501)
  • Introduction to the New Testament. New York: DeGruyter, 1982. 2nd ed., 2002 (ISBN 3110146924)
  • Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity, v. 2, 2000 (preview).
  • Paul & His World: Interpreting the New Testament in its Context Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. (ISBN 0800638905)
  • From Jesus to the Gospels: Interpreting the New Testament in its
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.