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Dibelius was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1883. Along with Rudolf Bultmann he helped define a period in research about the historical Jesus characterized by skepticism toward the possibility of describing Jesus with historical certainty. In this capacity he is often regarded as an early pioneer of New Testament form criticism, a highly analytical review of literary forms within the New Testament. After studying at multiple universities, he eventually ended up as a teacher of New Testament exegesis and criticism at Heidelberg University. He is well known for portraying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as reflecting ideals that are impossible to live up to in what he considered a fallen world. He died in Heidelberg in 1947.
- Geschichte der urchristlichen Literatur, 3rd edition, new printing of the first edition from 1926, with consideration of the alterations in the English translation of 1936, A Fresh Approach to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, ed. Ferdinand Hahn. (Munich 1975)
- Die Pastoralbriefe, 4th, enlarged edition by Hans Conzelmann (Handbuch zum Neuen Testament 13; Tübingen 1966)
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