At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
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This volume makes a valuable contribution to the debate about the origins and development of Christianity. Larry Hurtado argues that understanding the nature of Christianity in the first century requires taking full account of the first Christians' devotional practices because worship was the context in which christological titles and other expressions of faith were given their specific meaning--a fact that has largely been ignored.

Hurtado focuses on two distinguishing characteristics of earliest Christian worship: its exclusivity (rejecting the worship of other deities) and its "binitarian" shape (the veneration of Christ alongside God the Father). Setting early Christianity within the religious environment of the Roman era, Hurtado describes the features of Christianity that attracted followers and led them to renounce other religions. He then turns his attention to a more detailed discussion of the place of Christ in the monotheistic worship of the earliest Christians, showing that Christ figured in their public and corporate devotional life at a surprisingly early stage. The book concludes with some reflections for Christian worship today based on the historical features of early Christian devotional practices.

Clear, illuminating, and relevant to the modern church, this volume will be of interest to scholars, pastors, students, and general readers seeking insight into the origins of Christian faith and practice.
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About the author

Larry W. Hurtado is professor emeritus of New Testament language, literature, and theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
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Published on
Sep 7, 2000
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Pages
138
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ISBN
9780802847492
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christian Rituals & Practice / General
Religion / Christianity / History
Religion / Institutions & Organizations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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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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