He studied at several universities and in 1851 became a lecturer at the University of Bonn. In 1858 at Bonn he became an associate professor of theology. Later on, he served as a professor at the Universities of Greifswald (1862), Jena (1867) and Tübingen (1872).
Diestel was known for his liberal-minded theological views. He specialized in Old Testament exegesis and was the author the highly acclaimed "Geschichte des Alten Testamentes in der christlichen Kirche" (History of the Old Testament in the Christian Church), (1868). Other noted works by Diestel include:
- Der Segen Jakob's in Genesis, xlix historisch erläutert. (Jacob's Blessing in Genesis, historically explained); CA Schwetschke & Son, Brunswick, 1853
- Die Sintflut und die Flutsagen des Alterthums (The deluge and flood legends of ancient times); C. Habel, 1871
- Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz (1975). "Diestel, Ludwig". In Bautz, Friedrich Wilhelm (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 1. Hamm: Bautz. cols. 1293–1294. ISBN 3-88309-013-1. English translation
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