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Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity [Paperback]

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Item Number 50263  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   746
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.2" Width: 6.2" Height: 1.7"
Weight:   2.34 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2005
Publisher   WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO.
ISBN  0802831672  
EAN  9780802831675  


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Item Description...
Overview
This outstanding book provides an in-depth historical study of the place of Jesus in the religious life, beliefs, and worship of Christians from the beginnings of the Christian movement down to the late second century. Lord Jesus Christ is a monumental work on earliest Christian devotion to Jesus, sure to replace Wilhelm Bousset's Kyrios Christos (1913) as the standard work on the subject. Larry Hurtado, widely respected for his previous contributions to the study of the New Testament and Christian origins, offers the best view to date of how the first Christians saw and reverenced Jesus as divine. In assembling this compelling picture, Hurtado draws on a wide body of ancient sources, from Scripture and the writings of such figures as Ignatius of Antioch and Justin to apocryphal texts such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Truth. Hurtado considers such themes as early beliefs about Jesus' divine status and significance, but he also explores telling devotional practices of the time, including prayer and worship, the use of Jesus' name in exorcism, baptism and healing, ritual invocation of Jesus as "Lord," martyrdom, and lesser-known phenomena such as prayer postures and the curious scribal practice known today as the nomina sacra. The revealing portrait that emerges from Hurtado's comprehensive study yields definitive answers to questions like these: How important was this formative period to later Christian tradition? When did the divinization of Jesus first occur? Was early Christianity influenced by neighboring religions? How did the idea of Jesus' divinity change old views of God? And why did the powerful dynamics of early beliefs and practices encourage people to make the costly move of becoming a Christian? Boasting an unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage - the book speaks authoritatively on everything from early Christian history to themes in biblical studies to New Testament Christology - Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ is at once significant enough that a wide range of scholars will want to read it and accessible enough that general readers interested at all in Christian origins will also profit greatly from it.

Publishers Description
This outstanding book provides an in-depth historical study of the place of Jesus in the religious life, beliefs, and worship of Christians from the beginnings of the Christian movement down to the late second century. Lord Jesus Christ is a monumental work on earliest Christian devotion to Jesus, sure to replace Wilhelm Bousset's Kyrios Christos (1913) as the standard work on the subject. Larry Hurtado, widely respected for his previous contributions to the study of the New Testament and Christian origins, offers the best view to date of how the first Christians saw and reverenced Jesus as divine. In assembling this compelling picture, Hurtado draws on a wide body of ancient sources, from Scripture and the writings of such figures as Ignatius of Antioch and Justin to apocryphal texts such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Truth. Hurtado considers such themes as early beliefs about Jesus' divine status and significance, but he also explores telling devotional practices of the time, including prayer and worship, the use of Jesus' name in exorcism, baptism and healing, ritual invocation of Jesus as "Lord," martyrdom, and lesser-known phenomena such as prayer postures and the curious scribal practice known today as the nomina sacra. The revealing portrait that emerges from Hurtado's comprehensive study yields definitive answers to questions like these: How important was this formative period to later Christian tradition? When did the divinization of Jesus first occur? Was early Christianity influenced by neighboring religions? How did the idea of Jesus' divinity change old views of God? And why did the powerful dynamics of early beliefs and practices encourage people to make the costly move of becoming a Christian? Boasting an unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage -- the book speaks authoritatively on everything from early Christian history to themes in biblical studies to New Testament Christology -- Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ is at once significant enough that a wide range of scholars will want to read it and accessible enough that general readers interested at all in Christian origins will also profit greatly from it.

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More About Larry W. Hurtado

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Larry W. Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Born in Kansas City (Missouri), he now lives in Edinburgh.

Larry W. Hurtado was born in 1943.

Larry W. Hurtado has published or released items in the following series...

  1. Library of Biblical Theology
  2. Library of New Testament Studies
  3. London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity
  4. New International Biblical Commentary: New Testament
  5. T&t Clark Cornerstones


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Reviews - What do our customers think?
How the Church Has Always Revered Jesus Christ as Divine  Mar 29, 2007
We have needed this book for a long time! Larry Hurtado has given us a full scale treatment of the history of devotion to Jesus Christ. Contrary to scholars such as J.D Crossan, Hurtado shows why Paul's writings must be considered when researching the history of devotion to Christ. He persuasively demonstrates that in Paul's writings as well as the later Gospel traditions, Jesus was revered. He even shows where Paul puts Jesus right up there with God (he calls this a binitarian understanding of God). He says that this is a radical new envisioning of Jewish monotheism and that it cannot be traced back to any polytheistic Gentile ideas.

Hurtado also shows how the Gospels and Q also reveal the church's early devotion to Jesus.

The book concludes with a discussion of Jesus in later noncanonical writings such as the Gospel of Thomas and in the writings of the early church fathers.

The basic thesis of the book is that the church worshipped Jesus as divine from the very beginning of Christianity. Hurtado dialogues with Jesus scholars such as Martin Hengel, John Kloppenborg, J.D Crossan, and James D.G Dunn, and he always treats their work with the utmost respect while also explaining why he occasionally must diverge from their viewpoints.

The last time a major study of Jesus worship was written was way back in 1913, so this book is long overdue. Hurtado is a moderately conservative guide through the twists and turns of early Christian literature, and his conclusions are well thought out and deserve to be considered.
 
Jesus Devotion- Historical Divinity or Process to that?  Nov 8, 2006
Scholar Hurtado carefully examines the historical evidence at the transition from the BC montheistic Judaism to binitarian God/Jesus in the first and second centuries.

He thoughtfully seeks as others have relayed to test the heretofore accepted research of Bouseet which proclaimed that Paul primarily was the first to introduce such Jesus devotion.

His meticulous engagement with all scholarly opinions is widesweeping and thorough, and thus this project is massive, yet interesting to read along with, not trudging at first sight of over 600 pages. Hurtado does a superb job of sticking with his focus of Jesus devotion from a historical perspective, avoiding most of the time other concerns and arguments, e.g. theological and isagogical.

He finds that there was rather seamless transition from BC devo to God (Yahweh) to including Jesus as also receiving devotion much same as Father, with devout Jews suddenly becoming champions of including such praise and adoration applied to exclusive agent of this God in Jesus. His work on name of God in OT and subsequent application of promises/glory/etc. to Jesus is convincing and important.

Hurtado engages with and examines diverse Christological opinions of first and second centuries, stopping such about 170 AD, right before Irenaeus. His looks into other Jesus Books and Marcion movement as well as Valentinus are thoughtful.

More conservative theologians might have valid concern at times with his Biblical book authorship, yet the conclusions reached in this tome are significant and put a serious dent in the liberal elements long claims to Paul created Jesus Christology.

Worthy read which liberal side must deal with.
 
Good-Bye Jesus Seminar Hello History  Sep 2, 2006
If you are reading this review I think I can assume that you have some familiarity with the general debate about when Jesus was considered divine (in any sense) and worshipped (in any sense). This book firmly and soundly trashes the thesis of the Jesus Seminar, which is not new, that Jesus "became God" only after a period of speculative theological progression (various times differ for this theory) and intense interaction with Hellenic ideas.

Each HIGHLY DETAILED section of this book merits its purchase, and each can stand on its own as a monograph. Hurtado begins with an examination of Jewish monotheism and concludes that it is not entierly uniform and that there exists the openess to a plurality within God. He then goes through the New Testament (and the Gospel of Q) and the earliest Jesus tradtions showing that Jesus was considered divine and worshipped from the earliest times and that this was not in contradiction to the tradition of the Jewish community de facto. Following this is an analysis of the second century, again proving his thesis.

This book is foundational reading for anyone intersted in real history and christology.

Please also check out Skarsaune's "In the Shadow of the Temple" and "Incanation: Myth or Fact", along with the works of N.T. Wright, for material on this topic that is both scholarly and accessable. Although at times Hurtado is critical of Martin Hengel's conclusions and methodology, I would still strongly recommend his "Cross of the Son of God" (a collection of previously published monographs) as a great introduction to this topic.

You know, it really could be that the Church's experience and understanding of Christ and God may just be true after all! Imagine that.

Enjoy!

 
An outstanding work of scholarship  Aug 15, 2006
This landmark study is the best account I have come across of early Christianity. Speculation is kept to a minimum and the author deals with the evidence that we have from early Christian writings. His approach to these writings is to read between the lines and look at what we can tell about how the authors tell us things rather than what they tell us. The other strength is that the early Christian world is considered firmly in the context of the Jewish and later Gentile communities in which it developed. The author has certain presuppositions, e.g, that not all of Paul's letters were written by Paul. Also, he deals objectively with the role of religious experience in the development of Christ devotion. That is, neither affirming nor discounting any explanations of what such the actuality of these experiences, he simply looks at what accounts of these experiences can tell us about how early Christians worshipped and lived out their faith. Although this is really an academic text which deals quite comprehensively with a number of complex topics, the book never dries up and the author's style of writing carries you along. Essential reading for anyone interested in early Christianity, I can't recommend it strongly enough.
 
Comprehensive  Jul 23, 2006
A standard "liberal" view of Jesus is that he was a simple religious teacher (perhaps at most a prophet) who did not make unique claims about himself. However, the early church took Jesus' message and converted it to a message about Jesus. Typically Paul the Apostle is made the culprit. Paul is often taken as a Hellenistic Jew who interpreted Jesus in the context of Greek religion thereby converting Jesus into a demigod.

Jesus' earliest followers were almost exclusively Jewish and their theology was rigidly monotheistic. Yet, even in the earlier NT writings Jesus it the object of cultic devotion, prayers are said in his name, OT writings referring to God are interpreted as referring to him, and he is confessed as the preexistent Son of God. By the time of Revelation (perhaps the last NT book written, circa 95 AD) Jesus is worshipped alongside the father. How is it that monotheistic Jews ended up with a sort of "binitarianism"? This "explosion" of devotion to Jesus cries out for examination. While Hurtado doesn't give an answer to why the earliest Christians began worshipping Jesus (other than a somewhat nebulous discussion of their "experience" of Jesus), his discussion of this unmistakable phenomenon in the NT is outstanding.

Hurtado's approach is systematic. He analyzes the various strata of the New Testament chronologically (Paul, Acts, Q, the Synoptics, Johannine literature, later NT documents) and discusses the apocryphal Gospels (such as Thomas and Peter), he then ends circa 170 AD. Within each strata, he discusses the author's beliefs about Jesus and devotion to him. Hurtado accepts the commonly held beliefs concerning the authorship of dating of the NT books (the only exception is that he considers II Thessalonians likely by Paul).

Particularly effective is Hurtado's discussion of Paul. Paul was converted to Christianity shortly after Jesus' death and his first letter (probably I Thessalonians) shows an unmistakable belief in the preexistence of Jesus. In addition, while Paul quarreled with other Christians concerning many issues, Christology wasn't one of them. And if other Christians saw Paul as a religious innovator transforming the simple Galilean peasant into God, then one might expect to find some hint of this dispute within the NT, yet there isn't any.

Many readers will find Hurtado's discussion of the apocryphal Gospels most interesting. This collection of material - which almost certainly is later than the four gospels in our NT - diverges from what became orthodox Christianity in a number of ways. Nonetheless, Jesus is depicted as a heavenly being coming down from heaven to dispense esoteric wisdom.

My only complaints about this book are that the later NT literature (Pastorals, General Epistles and Revelation) aren't discussed in detail and Hurtado doesn't directly discuss the development of Trinitarian thought. Of course, Hurtado had to put some limits on the book, but I felt a bit cheated after reading 653 pages of text.
 

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