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Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity
Larry W. Hurtado

0802860702 Retail Price: $55.00
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Format: Paperback, 832pp.
ISBN: 0802831672
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pub. Date: June 1, 2003

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From The Publisher:

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.


The present volume is a veritable tour de force, as Hurtado wends his way through the NT, the writings of the apostolic and apologetic Fathers of the Church, and second-century Christian apocrypha…. Lord Jesus Christ is a book that deserves to appear on the reading list for comprehensive examinations in theology, not to mention that it also deserves to appear on the library shelves of those who consider themselves veterans in NT study.
—Catholic Biblical Quarterly

A fantastic work! Larry Hurtado has written what may well prove to be one of the more important books on Jesus in this generation. By shifting the focus of discussion away from the historical Jesus and toward the function of Jesus in the religion of early Christians, Hurtado touches on crucial issues that have been largely neglected since Bousset’s Kyrios Christos (1913). In thoroughly probing the role of Jesus in the faith and life of the early Christians, from the beginnings of the church to well into the second century, Hurtado asks the right questions and provides many of the right answers. This book will be extremely useful for those attempting to understand Christianity in the context of the history of religion.
—David E. Aune

This is a great and necessary book. We have been waiting for it for years, and now it will strongly influence New Testament scholarship, especially in the fields of christology and early Christian history. By remaining in constant critical discussion with scholars holding differing opinions, Larry Hurtado also shows the progress of research during the last decades. Everybody working in this domain has to take account of his Lord Jesus Christ. Many thanks to Hurtado for his valuable gift!
—Martin Hengel

Among his many significant achievements, Larry Hurtado reconceives “Christology” as “Christ devotion,” which embraces not only beliefs about Jesus but also practices and aspects of material and visual culture. In this ambitious and erudite volume Hurtado analyzes not just the standard repertoire of canonical sources — Paul’s letters, the canonical Gospels, Hebrews, the pastoral letters — but also the sayings source Q, the Gospels of Peter and Thomas, Infancy Thomas, the Protoevangelium of James, and various gospel fragments, achieving a scope and depth rarely seen in monographs on the topic since the classic of Wilhelm Bousset. Attentive to detail and nuance, broad in its learning, and careful in its arguments, Lord Jesus Christ is a landmark in scholarship on Christian origins. Even though one might disagree with Hurtado in certain respects, he is always worth reading — and reading carefully.
—John S. Kloppenborg

Larry Hurtado locates the presence of the Christ in early Christianity with a scholarly exactness never before achieved. The story he tells is important for all Christians and for all historians of Christianity. This will be one of the most important books on early Christianity in the twenty-first century.
—Alan F. Segal

Larry Hurtado’s new book is a stunning achievement. It explores with admirable rigor and clarity a central issue all too often ducked or evaded: How, when, and why did devotion to Jesus as a divine figure emerge within earliest Christianity? Hurtado has to negotiate many minefields as he takes his readers across a vast terrain. He is a wise guide whose judgment can be trusted, for his scholarship is of the highest order. This book is already on my shortlist of “books of the decade.”
—Graham Stanton

This monumental, authoritative, readily accessible study clearly demonstrates that worship of Jesus as one with God emerged and flourished in the earliest church and in the context of dedicated Jewish-Christian monotheism (not in a Gentile Christianity that had broken with it, as the consensus since Bousset has maintained). Not just a landmark contribution, this work changes the whole landscape of the discussion.
—Max Turner


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About the Author

Larry W. Hurtado is professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Among his other books is One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism.

Table of Contents


    A New religionsgeschichtliche Schule?
    This Study

  1. Forces and Factors
    Jewish Monotheism
         Was Jewish Religion Really Monotheistic?
         The Nature of Jewish Monotheism
         Monotheism in the New Testament
         The Effects of Monotheism on Christ-Devotion

    Religious Experience
         Revelatory Experiences in the New Testament
    The Religious Environment

  2. Early Pauline Christianity
    Where to Begin?
    Key Personal Factors
         Paul's Jewishness
         Paul the Convert
         The Gentile Mission

    Christological Language and Themes
         Jesus as “Christ”
         Jesus' Divine Sonship
         Jesus as Lord
         Jesus' Redemptive Death and Resurrection
         Jesus as Example

    Binitarian Worship
         Early Origins


  3. Judean Jewish Christianity
    Pauline Evidence
         Paul's Acquaintance with Judean Christianity
         A Conspicuous Silence
         Judean Christian Tradition in Paul's Letters

    Judean Christ-Devotion in Acts
         Christological Categories
         Devotional Practice

    Hellenists and Hebrews
         Hellenists as “Proto-Paulinists”
         Hellenists as Jewish Christians


  4. Q and Early Devotion to Jesus
    Untenable Options
    Kloppenborg's View of Q's Christology
    Historical Plausibility
    An Inductive Approach
    Is Q Peculiar?
    The Argument from Silence
    Devotion to Jesus in Q
         Centrality of Jesus
         Q's Narrative World and Jesus
         Jesus the Polarizing Issue
         Christological Terms

    Religious Life in Q

  5. Jesus Books
    Shared Features of the Canonical Gospels
    The Literary Genre of the Canonical Gospels
         The Gospels and Early Christian Literature
         The Gospels and Jewish Literature
         The Roman-Era Literary Environment

    The Synoptic Renditions of Jesus


  6. Crises and Christology in Johannine Christianity
    Jesus in the Gospel of John
         Some Literary Observations
         Messiah and Son of God
         “I Am”
         The Son and the Father
         Jesus as/and the Glory of God
         Jesus as/and the Name of God
         The Name of Jesus
         Subordination and Distinction
         Jesus and the Spirit
         The Spirit and Johannine Christianity
         Christology and Controversy

    The Christological Crisis in Johannine Christianity
         Characterization of the Opponents
         The Christological Issue
         Jesus as Heavenly Visitor
         Jesus as Mystical Exemplar
         Historical Results

    Crises and Jesus-Devotion

  7. Other Early Jesus Books
    Jesus Books
         Secret Mark
         The Egerton Manuscript
         Gospel of Peter

    Infancy Gospels
         Protevangelium of James
         Infancy Gospel of Thomas
    Gospel of Thomas
         A Jesus Book
         Literary Character
         Secret Knowledge
         Jesus and “Thomistic” Christianity
         Summary and Placement
         Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of John

    Revelation Dialogues

  8. The Second Century — Importance and Tributaries
    Christianity in the Second Century
    Approach and Focus
    First-Century Tributaries
         The Epistle to the Hebrews
         Late Pauline Texts
         Confluent Evidence

  9. Radical Diversity
    Valentinus and Valentinianism
         “Valentinianism” in Irenaeus
         Valentinian Innovations
         Valentinian Piety
         Nag Hammadi Texts
         Gospel of Truth

    Summarizing Reflections

  10. Proto-orthodox Devotion
    Finding Jesus in the Old Testament
    The Fourfold Gospel
    Visions and Revelations
         Ascension of Isaiah
         Shepherd of Hermas

    Worship and Prayer
         Outsiders and Critics

    The Nomina Sacra
    Doctrinal Developments
         Jesus' Descent to Hades
         Jesus, Man and God
         The Divine Jesus and God


    Bibliography of Works Cited

         Modern Authors
         Ancient Sources

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