Gustav Adolf Deissmann (1866-1937) was an extraordinary German theologian who gained considerable international repute during his lifetime for his many pioneering contributions in the widely divergent fields of postclassical Greek philology, lexicography, the archaeological excavations of ancient Ephesus, international conciliation and the ecumenical movement. He was the recipient of numerous national and international distinctions, including eight honorary doctorates from six different countries, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet until recent years this once celebrated intellectual has largely been overlooked by modern scholarship, or, if mentioned, often tended to be misrepresented. Although a pleasing upsurge of interest in Deissmann has occurred during the past decade- driven primarily by research from German theological faculties- this comprehensive book from the Antipodes is the first authorized biographical analysis of his multifaceted academic career.
Gerber's thorough research is based on an impressive range of hitherto unpublished sources- drawn from some 25 archives, scattered over 3 continents- as well as much privately held material which includes Deissmann's personal diary. An important added feature of this source-rich work is the substantial collection of relevant appendices and addenda, as these consist of transcribed documentary material that would otherwise remain largely unknown or inaccessible to most readers.
Albrecht Gerber, University of New England, New South Wales, Australia.