AboutRobert Rhea earned a BA in modern German literature at Davidson College, North Carolina, received an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, New York, and completed an MA in Hebrew Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. While a student at Davidson he spent a year at the University of Marburg in Germany where he attended Georg Werner Kuemmel's lectures on the Pauline epistles and began reading Rudolf Bultmann.
He taught German language and American literature at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia before entering active duty as a communications duty officer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Although he submitted an application for conscientious objector status, it was rejected, and he served honorably for the 160th Signal Group in Longh Binh and Saigon, Vietnam.
Rhea was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for the study of modern German literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany where he wrote a study on selected novels of Hermann Hesse. For the next three years, he focused primarily on German and English Romantic literature, and wrote a master's thesis on Ferdinand Freiligrath's poetry and translations of English Romantic verse at the request of his professor Werner Vordtriede, known for his work, Novalis and the French Symbolists.
Returning to the United States in 1976, he matriculated at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Although his study included a considerable amount of Old Testament exegesis along with psychology and religion, he placed emphasis on the New Testament, particularly the Fourth Gospel. With his thesis on the use of the Son of Man title in the Fourth Gospel written for James L. Martyn and Raymond E. Brown and later published by Oscar Cullmann in his ATHANT series, he demonstrated that the title most likely originated in the Hebrew prophetic tradition, not Jewish apocalyptic literature. It was 1990 before he read The Priority of John by the late Bishop of Woolwich and Cambridge professor, John A. T. Robinson, who also held the view that the Fourth Gospel was written by an eye-witness disciple, the Beloved Disciple and who suggested that the Son of Man title of this Gospel has been derived from a pre-apocalyptic source.
During the autumn of 1989 Rhea entered the graduate school at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York to study Hebrew Bible with an emphasis on the Hebrew prophetic tradition. He was a student of David Marcus, Stephen Geller, and Ed Greenstein. His exegetical study on Zechariah 13:1-6 was published by the Zeitschrift fue die Alttestamentliche Wissenshaft.
After visiting Ephesos in the summer of 1998 where he coordinated with Austrian archaeologists digging at the so-called Tomb of Luke for evidence that could prove this tomb to be that of the Beloved Disciple of the Fourth Gospel, he matriculated a few years later as a doctoral candidate in New Testament at the Evangelish-Theologische Fakultaet of the Universtiy of Vienna, Austria. He completed the course work and spent almost two years researching the Baptism of Jesus for Professor Wilhelm Pratscher. Then he elected to focus on the Johannine account of the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. He concluded that Jesus was not baptized by John the Baptist.
At Virginia Intermont College, Rhea worked as a librarian and taught German for the college's study abroad program in Munich, Germany. He taught German language at the New School for Social Research, New York, and ESL at the Alpha Sprachinstitut in Vienna, Austria and for the Inlingua School of Languages, Manhattan, New York. He also served as a substitute teacher for three of Vienna's international schools. From 1986 to the present he has met with numerous pastors, priests, preachers and parishioners along with mainline church officials seeking recognition of the Fourth Gospel as the most authentic account of the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.