How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?
The Gospel of John and first-century Jewish monotheism have been the subject of some of my recent research and writing. A question that must be asked by everyone who studies the high Christology found in John is how it would have (or could have) arisen within a monotheistic culture. Is it possible that early Jews to have trusted in the one true God of Israel while simultaneously believing that Jesus was a divine being? However, one of the greatest is a compilation of writings by mydoktorvater, Larry Hurtado, which was published in the amazing book, How on Earth Did Jesus Become God?
Since 1985, Larry has been in the forefront of historical research into the roots of Jesus devotion within early Christianity, and he has received several awards for his work.
A capstone work that continues his fundamental investigation into early Christian devotion and draws together much of his research over the past two decades is Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, which was published in 2003.
This more condensed presentation of Hurtado’s prior research brings together a number of previous publications on the subject (mostly journal articles), as well as material from the Deichmann Annual Lecture Series at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, to provide a more concise presentation of Hurtado’s prior research.
In chapter one, Hurtado provides us with a general overview of the field by surveying the variety of other approaches to Jesus devotion that have been developed within early Christianity and providing a brief critical review of each of them so that his own approach can be seen in contrast to its scholarly competitors.
- It is at this point that the primary historical problem at hand becomes clear.
- When it came to their worship of Jesus, early Christians distinguished it from their worship of all the other pagan gods of the Greco-Roman world.
- As a result of its restricted character, such worship is fundamentally monotheistic and reflects a Jewish origin rather than a pagan-Gentile one.
- “However, it was a significant and unusual step for those influenced by the exclusive monotheistic viewpoint of Second-Temple Judaism to include another person beside God as the exclusive recipient of cultic devotion in their worship meetings,” Hurtado writes (25).
It is on these two primary pillars that Hurtado bases his argument: (a) He argues that such devotion to Jesus can be traced back to the first century (and even to the 40s), and that an evolutionary model simply does not have enough time to work; and (b) He argues that the demographic origin of such devotion in the earliest followers of Jesus is decidedly Jewish (particularly in the crucial first few decades).
- Despite the fact that Jewish diaspora communities were heavily impacted by pagan culture, there is no reason to suppose that this influence prompted Jewish believers to question the oneness of the one true God of Israel; in fact, the reverse appears to have been the case.
- Christians did not worship Jesus as a second deity, but rather as a co-religionist with the one true God of the Jews, whom they revered.
- Hurtado’s claim that Jesus worship was a remarkable early invention and further historical inquiry is further developed in this book, which is a valuable addition to his already strong case.
- So far, he has been successful in redefining the terms of argument about the origins of Christianity and the essence of Jesus Christ, as well as the nature of Christ himself.
- For modern scholars, such beliefs and behaviors are not only observable phenomena, but rather call for historicized justifications for their existence.
This review of Hurtado’s book was first published in the Westminster Theological Journal68 (2006): 369-372, where most of it may be found in its entirety.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become God?
The Gospel of John and first-century Jewish monotheism have been the focus of my recent research. A question that must be asked by everyone who studies the high Christology found in John is how it would have (or might have) evolved in a monotheistic setting. Is it possible that early Jews might have believed in the one true God of Israel while also believing that Jesus was divine at the same time? There are other scholarly books that are useful in this subject, but one of the greatest is a compilation of writings by mydoktorvater, Larry Hurtado, which was published in his magnificent book, How on Earth Did Jesus Become God?
- Since 1985, Larry has been in the forefront of historical research into the roots of Jesus devotion within early Christianity, and he has published several articles on the subject.
- Several years later, in 2003, he wrote Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, which is, in many respects, a capstone work that continues his basic examination into early Jesus devotion while also drawing together much of his research over the previous twenty years.
- All of the chapters in this book are beneficial, but the first two are the most fundamental.
- In particular, he focuses on the “evolutionary” perspective, which is most eloquently portrayed by William Bousset’sKyrios Christos(1913), which stated that worship of Jesus originated in Gentile Christian circles who were greatly affected by the pagan Greco-Roman religion.
- According to Hurtado, the problem is not only explaining how Jesus was seen as divine by early Christians, but rather describing the manner in which he was regarded as divine by those early Christians.
- The resurrection of Jesus was not merely a fresh addition to the gods they previously worshipped; rather, he was seen as the sole God who was worthy of their devotion.
- A real historical explanation must be provided for such extraordinary devotion to Jesus, especially in the setting of a monotheistic religion.
Continuing his answer to the evolutionary hypothesis in chapter two, Hurtado develops a more comprehensive explanation for why devotion to Jesus arose in a monotheistic Jewish environment.
There is no reason to suppose that Jewish believers in the diaspora were led to question the uniqueness of the one true God of Israel, despite the fact that diaspora communities were heavily impacted by pagan culture; in fact, the reverse appears to have been true.
Not as a second deity, but rather as a co-religionist with the one true God of the Jews, Christians worshiped Jesus as a co-religionist.
Hurtado’s claim that Jesus worship was a remarkable early invention and further historical inquiry is further developed in this book, which is a valuable addition to the already persuasive case.
By doing so, he has successfully altered the parameters of argument around Christianity’s beginnings and the character of Jesus Christ, who lived approximately 2,000 years ago today.
For modern scholars, such beliefs and behaviors are not only observable phenomena, but rather call for historicized justifications for their continued practice and survival.
It should be noted that a substantial portion of this review of Hurtado’s book was initially published in the Westminster Theological Journal68 (2006): 369-372 in 2006.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God
This is a review of Larry Hurtado’s novel, “What on Earth Happened to Make Jesus a God? Questions Regarding the Earliest Devotion to Jesus in History “Dr. William Klein has written an article on it. Lord Jesus Christ, Larry W. Hurtado, and others. Early Christian devotion to Jesus was a source of contention. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2003. xxii + 746 pages. ISBN: 0-8028-6070-2. Published in 2005 as a paperback. $35.00. The ISBN for this book is 0-8028-3167-2.
- Hurtado, is a book on how Jesus became a god.
- Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2005.
- Despite the fact that they were published a couple of years apart, these two volumes naturally complement one another.
- This book is the result of Professor Hurtado’s twenty-five-year search for an explanation for why Jewish monotheists in the first century AD were so willing to treat Jesus in ways that were previously designated solely for the worship of Yahweh.
- What caused these early Jewish Christians to adopt a binitarian viewpoint?
Hurtado’s mammoth study, Kyrios Christos, was produced in 1913 and is widely regarded as a milestone (and, in Hurtado’s opinion, a fundamentally flawed) book on the subject by Wilhelm Bousett, who wrote the work in question.
Hurtado has this view, which he reveals to be naive and uninformed by history.
That is, when Christianity spread across the Hellenistic world, pagan influences led to the deification of their leader as a result of the spread of Christianity.
To replace what he perceives to be incorrect conclusions reached by Bousett (and others who have accepted similar explanations), Hurtado sets out to review the facts in as thorough a manner as he is capable of doing so.
He conducts a thorough examination of all of the evidence at his disposal.
Among the sources he examines are early Pauline writings, Judean Jewish Christianity, Q; the synoptic gospels (which he refers to as “Jesus Books”); Johannine Christianity; apocryphal gospels, fragments, and Thomas; second century Christianity; Valentinus and Valentinianism; the Ascension of Isaiah and Shepherd of Hermas; Revelation, the Ascension of Isaiah, and Shepherd of Hermas; and, last but not least, such In total, he covers the time span from around 30 to 170.
Nonetheless, he delves into an exceedingly important question: what may be the underlying source of such a mutation?
This is in contrast to some evolutionary explanation that finds devotion to Jesus gradually developing over the decades in the same way that other religions in the Greco-Roman world have found devotion to Jesus gradually developing over the decades.
The devotion to Jesus erupted suddenly and quickly, rather than gradually and late; across the wide spectrum of diverse Christian manifestations, beliefs in Jesus as divine were common 12even the heresies presuppose Jesus’ 12deity; Jesus was central in all forms of Christianity; and the Christian God is the God of the Old Testament who has been fully revealed in Jesus.
- The more compactHow Did Jesus Become a God on This Planet?
- The title is intended to be a double entendre: how on earth could anything like this happen?
- Given that the first few chapters are the outcome of public lectures given to a general audience of non-specialists, the content in them is more accessible than the material found in the book of Lord Jesus Christ.
- Then he considers some of the social and political ramifications that early Christians experienced as a result of their dedication to Jesus, focusing on the expenses of their commitment to Jesus throughout the first stages of the church’s history.
- In the subsequent chapters, we will witness a more in-depth examination of Jewish monotheism in the first century, early Jewish hostility to Jesus-devotion, and further illumination on the religious experience of the early Christians, among other topics.
- In addition, his preaching enraged the Romans to the point that they finally killed him as a result of his actions.
- Getting through the largerLord Jesus Christis not a simple task, but the reward for persevering through its contents is enormous.
- Several of the assertions made by the so-called Jesus Seminar and its adherents are undermined by Hurtado’s historical studies, which have the weight of evidence and solid judgment.
- We worship in order to have a spiritual experience of the divine, but why do we worship in the first place?
We worship God, or do we worship God because we have experienced Jesus, the one who commands us to adore God through his Son? To put it another way, are the words 12Jesus is divine 12 simply an abstract theoretical declaration, or do they represent our personal experience of Jesus?
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?
DESCRIPTION How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?) Larry Hurtado analyzes the tremendous devotion to Jesus that arose unexpectedly quickly after his death, and how it came to be. According to Hurtado, early Christians’ reverence for Jesus contained both big assertions about Jesus’ significance and a pattern of devotional rituals that regarded him as if he were a divine being. Despite one’s feelings about such devotion to Jesus, the author of this book contends that the matter merits serious historical investigation.
- He then goes on to discuss the hostility to – and severe consequences of – adoring Jesus, the history of absorbing such devotion into Jewish monotheistic, and the significance of religious experience in the creation of Christianity as a result of the Jewish faith.
- REVIEWS The Bible in Today’s World A pleasure to read, and a significant challenge to much of modern academia, this book has been written with clarity, cogency, and tremendous erudition.
- “Larry Hurtado is transforming the face of New Testament studies via his unwavering commitment to uncovering the origins of the exceptional love to Jesus displayed by Jesus’ early disciples.
- Larry Hurtado has successfully turned the Christian world away from exhausted seekers and toward lofty Christology in a striking and dramatic manner.
- It comes highly recommended.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?
Printed by the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2005-11-02 At the Deichmann Annual Lecture Series, which is held by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, Hurtado delivered the first lectures in 2004, which marked the series’ initial year. Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), and they eventually formed the first four chapters of How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006). All of the other chapters were based on studies that have previously been published in peer-reviewed journals.
- Though the audiences for his original works are diverse, ranging from Jews in Israel to “fellow researchers in Christian origins” (p.
- “This work constitutes an attempt to characterize and comprehend the devotion to Jesus in historical terms and as a historical phenomenon,” he writes (p.
- Hurtado begins by providing an outline of attempts to understanding the origins of “Jesus devotion,” a word that he employs throughout the book to describe the phenomenon.
- Chapter 4 takes a slightly different tack, focusing on Philippians 2:6–11 as a case study of “Christian belief and piety, particularly with relation to the centrality of Jesus in early Christian thought and practice,” according to the author (p.
- Hurtado’s greatest strength, without a doubt.
- Hurtado acknowledges that the second half of the book has some overlap with the first half, and that this is a flaw in his writing (p.
Chapter 5 makes the sound argument that one must study first-century Jewish monotheism inductively rather than deductively (p.
As indicated by their beliefs and practices, Jews in the first century regarded themselves to be monotheistic.
Chapter 7 inquires as to when Christianity and Judaism became estranged from one another.
Chapter 6 delves into the meanings of Greek terms for reverence and adoration that are associated with Christ.
12:3) is undoubtedly an indignant Jewish reaction,” and that “Anathema Iesous” (Anathema Iesous) (1 Cor.
A small but telling detail is the employment of a Greek typeface in one place (pp.
158–59), which is both confusing and instructive.
Furthermore, by maintaining a professional distance from the authority of Scripture, Hurtado undermines his own point concerning the origins of Jesus devotion and his own credibility.
He appears to be wary of making too many theological assertions just on the basis of the biblical text.
or divine actions, there is every reason to perceive them as the historical ignition points for the Christological conviction related to them,” he asserts while describing the relevance of religious experience in theological innovation (p.
One has to question why Hurtado saved his most resolute statement until the very end.
To put it succinctly, he says that “whatever you think about’revelation,’ you cannot dispute that the conclusion is Jesus adoration.” Hurtado’s gentler words may be explained by the colorful construction of the book, as well as the wide range of people who will read it.
Even with its incomplete nature, this book serves well as an introduction to the concerns surrounding early Jesus devotion and as a resource for further research.
Those with a foundational theological education, on the other hand, may find it more useful as a refresher course than as required reading.
About the Contributors
Dr. Bleeker came to Manassas, Virginia, after working as Director of Admissions at DTS-Washington, DC, from 2007 to 2014. He is now Dean of DTS-Washington, DC. From 2014 to 2019, Bleeker witnessed the grace of God act in mighty ways to develop the DTS-DC campus and firmly establish DTS’s position in the nation’s capital throughout that time period. Dr. Bleeker has written for Books and Culture, Fathom magazine (online versions), and Bibliotheca Sacra, among other publications. His wife, Eva (MACE, MAMC; 2008), received her MS in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University (Manhattan, New York) in 2017.
Walking with their dog, Ransom Ruth, and visiting guests for home-cooked dinners are some of the things that the Bleekers like doing in their spare time.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?: Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus
By Larry W. Hurtado, historical questions surrounding the first devotion to Jesus are addressed.
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company retains ownership of the copyright until further notice. ISBN: 0-8028-2861-2 (hardcover).
Although the title of this book is intended to be provocative, I do not aim to insult anyone with it. It expresses a double entente that encapsulates two important emphases that will be discussed in the following chapters. When you read the title, you immediately think about how incredible it is that Jesus of Nazareth came to be venerated in the most elevated terms, and at such an early stage, in the religious movement dedicated to him that eventually became known as “Christianity.” I’m left wondering, “How on earth” (to borrow an English expression of amazement) did this portrayal of Jesus as divine take place.
- In the religious atmosphere of the early churches, which was influenced by the Roman Empire, this devotion to Jesus amounted to treating him as if he were a deity.
- This leads me to the second phase of the double entente.
- Of course, according to orthodox Christian belief, Jesus of Nazareth is the personal, human manifestation of the second member of the Trinity, and he was simply divine from “before the beginning of time” (to use an ancient Christian creedal expression).
- Ultimately, this is the central question that guides the debate throughout this book.
- That is a legitimate religious topic, but it would be better suited for a study in Christian apologetics or a theological tome rather than a blog post.
- The latter would also be appropriate for a theological treatise or even a study meant to encourage Christian thinking and piety, as would the former.
- However, these are not the primary emphasis or aim of this article.
Taking a historical perspective does not necessarily imply or imply a dismissive attitude toward concerns regarding the legitimacy and continued significance of devotion to Jesus, or a preference for any specific solution to such problems.
However, regardless of the solutions to religious and theological concerns, I believe that the type of historical analysis that I present here is relevant and beneficial.
The fruits of that labor have been published in a number of books, most recently in a hefty volume titled Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, which was published last year.
I’m writing this in especially (but not only) for individuals who are interested in the subject and who might benefit from a more concise exposition of some of the most critical points engaged in the discussion.
First and foremost, this great regard for Jesus in early Christian groups stands in stark contrast to the extremely unfavorable treatment he received from others, both during his historical existence and thereafter, as previously stated.
He plainly and quickly established himself as a divisive and polarizing figure among many, if not the majority, of those who had reason to regard him seriously, and he continues to do so now.
While declaring and teaching about God’s kingdom, Jesus appears to have engaged in a variety of other activities, some of which served to bring attention to himself, but others which served to display something of the power and purposes of the heavenly kingdom which he had declared.
Both Jesus’ disciples and opponents believed that he was capable of performing miraculous healings and other feats of supernatural power on a regular basis.
This is neither the place or the time to try a more comprehensive description of Jesus’ own message and goals, nor is it required to do so at this time.
It was evident in Jesus’ arrest, his condemnation by the Jerusalem Temple leaders, and his barbaric death under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, that the fatal resistance had manifested itself.
However, the goal was not merely to put an end to an offender’s life; it was also intended to demonstrate to all observers (because it was done as a public spectacle) the ramifications of defying Roman authority by publicly degrading and humiliating the victim.
The manner in which he was executed clearly indicated that he had engendered a great deal of enmity.
Instead, with remarkable velocity, the issue grew even more heated, and his adherents demonstrated an even more astounding amount of loyalty to him.
These assertions were further supported by a growing pattern of devotional rituals in which Jesus played an unprecedented role of centrality, which was even more remarkable.
In summary, Jesus’ disciples, according to him, were at a level of dedication that much beyond their own earlier and outstanding commitment to him during his existence from a very early point after his death.
This devotion to Jesus was also significant for the development of all later Christianity, which is still another crucial reason to pay close attention to concerns regarding how and when it came to be.
It is not feasible to cover all of the texts and occurrences that are discussed in this book.
I want to highlight that I am primarily concerned with historical themes and concerns, and that no specific personal opinion on the part of the reader is assumed here.
In this book, there are two groupings of research, which are represented by the eight chapters.
It could be beneficial for me to sketch out a little more of how these studies are related to one another.
The many years of contemporary scholarly inquiry have resulted in the development of a variety of different methodologies.
I concentrate on current academic alternatives and the prominent proponents of these alternatives.
According to the major argument of this chapter, early devotion to Jesus was a noteworthy phenomenon that demands a serious attempt to comprehend it in historical terms.
To put it another way, devotion to Jesus first manifested historically as a radical departure from the traditions of Second-Temple Jewish religion.
Evangelical devotion to Jesus was linked with a steadfast monotheistic position that encouraged scorn for involvement in the worship of the numerous other deities present in the Roman religious world.
Nevertheless, these early believers did not agree with the accusation that they were worshipping two gods.
Throughout Chapter Three, I address some of the social and political repercussions of early Christians’ commitment to Jesus, with a special emphasis on the negative effects, or the social costs, of being a Christian during this time period.
The fact remains that a significant number of Christians were faced with the risk of incurring social consequences as a result of their beliefs, which may range from derision to far more severe resistance, whether from family members or from larger social circles.
As previously said, this appears to have been more prevalent in the beginning, but by the early second century, things were beginning to look a little more worrisome, at least for certain Christian leaders.
Throughout this paper, I will engage in a more in-depth and prolonged investigation of this one text, which I will provide as “case study” of a critical passage that takes us back to the early decades of the Christian movement.
It is my hope to add something new to our understanding of this fascinating text, despite the fact that there have been numerous previous discussions of the passage.
In ancient sources, the term “monotheism” was not used; instead, it is a modern scholarly term.
Some have even questioned whether it is appropriate to attribute “monotheism” to the Jewish religion of the Roman period.
If, as I believe, the origins of Christianity can be traced back to the Second-TempleJewish tradition, it is critical that we have a correct understanding of what that religious tradition was composed of.
Throughout Chapter Six, I consider how early Christian devotion might compare to, and be related to, the type of stance toward Jesus that most likely characterized his followers during the time of his own historical career.
I contend that, while it is entirely possible that those who accepted Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God showed homage and reverence to him, the level of cultic reverence that characterized early Christian churches represents a significant step forward in terms of devotion.
It seems likely that if early Jewish Christians saw Jesus as divine, if their devotion to him was seen to be equivalent to “worship,” this would have sparked indignation and hostility among their fellow Jews.
The answer to this issue is presented in Chapter Seven, where I demonstrate that we have good evidence that quite severe Jewish hostility to early Christian devotion to Jesus developed rather early.
The fact that Jesus was treated as divine and in ways that marked a substantial revolution in Jewish religious practice at the time suggests that what caused this sort of opposition was most likely the treatment of Jesus as divine.
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How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?: Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus (Paperback)
Though I intended for the title of this book to be controversial, I don’t want anyone to be offended. On the following pages, it is used to express a double entente that captures two important emphases. What the title implies is that it is remarkable that Jesus of Nazareth came to be revered in the most exalted terms, and at such an early stage in the religious movement dedicated to him that eventually became known as “Christianity.” I’m left wondering, “How on earth” (to use an English idiom of wonder) did this treatment of Jesus as divine occur.
- In the religious environment of the early churches, which was influenced by the Roman Empire, this devotion to Jesus amounted to treating him as if he were a god.
- This brings me to the second half of the double entente.
- Even if this traditional Christian view is correct in its fundamental assumptions, it raises the historical question of how early Christians “on earth” came to regard Jesus as divine and revere him as such.
- I am not primarily concerned with debating the legitimacy of one’s devotion to Jesus at this point in the conversation.
- I’m also not particularly interested in delving into the meaning of devotion to Jesus in the context of contemporary Christian thought and practice at this point in time.
- Apologetics for Christianity, theological reflection, and the shaping and promoting of Christian piety are all, in principle, entirely legitimate endeavors.
- Instead, this book is an attempt to describe and understand in historical terms and as a historical phenomenonthe devotion to Jesus that (as we will see) has characterized Christianity from a very (and perhaps surprising) early point in history.
For example, one can certainly treat devotion to Jesus as a historical phenomenon without denying that it may also represent a response to God’s revelation if one treats it thoroughly as such.
A significant amount of time and energy has been devoted to this historical investigation over the past twenty-five years or so.
I draw on this work as well as those publications for the current, much smaller volume (as well as the work of a large number of other scholars of previous and contemporary time).
Because it is so remarkable in a variety of ways, early Christian devotion to Jesus is certainly worthy of study.
Although Jesus was most likely a follower of John “the Baptizer,” a fiery contemporary prophet of national repentance, after John’s arrest and execution at the hands of Herod Antipas (the Roman client-ruler of Galilee), Jesus emerged more prominently as a prophet-like figure in his own right.
On the basis of the evidence available, it appears that Jesus gained notoriety during his own historical lifetime, at least in parts of Roman Judea, by proclaiming the impending arrival of God’s “kingdom.” According to many of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament Gospels, the establishment of God’s kingdom would constitute a genuine “regime change” (to borrow a phrase from recent geopolitical discourse), and it would represent values and purposes that were fundamentally different from those that were dominant in the religious and social structures of Jesus’ day and age.
In addition to proclaiming and teaching about God’s kingdom, Jesus appears to have engaged in a variety of other activities, some of which had the effect of drawing additional attention to him, but which were primarily intended to demonstrate something of the power and purposes of the divine kingdom that he had previously announced.
As a result of Jesus’ ability to perform miracles and other acts of supernatural power, both his followers and his opponents believed in him.
Rather than focusing on the “now,” they were to live their lives with an eye toward the future (but imminent) full manifestation of God’s rule, and their actions were to be shaped by this expectation.
To understand the significance of Jesus’ activities for the purposes of this book, it is important to recognize that his actions undoubtedly generated responses that ranged from a devoted following to mortal opposition, and that these responses to him became far more significant than was probably realized at the time of his actions.
- The crucifixion was a particularly effective execution method in the Roman arsenal of execution methods, and it was reserved for those of lower social classes who were deemed to be a threat to the rule of the Empire.
- The crucifixion of Jesus, however, did not have the outcome that his executioners had in mind, despite the fact that it appeared that way at the time.
- The debate over what to make of him and his message did not, however, come to an end as a result of his gruesome death, which was far from over.
- Jesus’ followers circulated the incredible claim that God had raised him from the dead and had installed him in heavenly glory as the Messiah and the appointed vehicle of redemption as soon as a few days or weeks had passed after his crucifixion.
- Among those who identified themselves with reference to Jesus, the name of Jesus was invoked as part of the initiation process into the early circles of those who identified themselves as such.
Moreover, as I demonstrate later in this book (particularly in Chapter Two), the earliest extant artifacts of the Christian movement (texts written no more than twenty years after Jesus’ death) reveal an astonishingly elevated level of devotion to Jesus, which was already commonplace among circles of his followers spread across a wide geographical area at that early point.
Indeed, I contend that the energetic and sometimes complex early Christian efforts to articulate doctrines about Jesus and God in the following few centuries were both practically demanded and significantly shaped by the intense devotion to Jesus that we see already expressed in our earliest evidence of the young Christian movement in the first few centuries AD.
- Instead, I want to concentrate on a few major historical concerns, since I feel that by doing so, it will be simpler to evaluate the large number of issues that still need to be addressed.
- Although the chronological focus is largely confined to the first and early second centuries, there is special emphasis on the earliest evidence and changes in the first century.
- A compilation of four chapters (derived from my four Deichmann lectures) forms the basis of the first four chapters; the following four chapters are derived from previously published journal papers that address some of the topics presented in the first four chapters.
- It goes without saying that mine is by no means the first serious attempt to address these crucial historical issues.
- Throughout Chapter One, I provide a critical evaluation of numerous historical methods to understanding the emergence of Jesus-devotion, pointing out the flaws in those that I find unacceptable and sketching the essential characteristics of the approach that I prefer.
- In this chapter, I will provide readers with a “map” of contemporary scholarly dispute to assist them better understand my points of contention.
- As a follow-up, in Chapter Two, I set out the primary facts and reasons that, in my opinion, force us to understand the formation of Jesus-devotion as a phenomenon that began within the circles of Second-Temple devoted Jews.
- The importance of Jesus’ exalted standing in regard to the one God of biblical tradition is also emphasized in this chapter, which takes place during the pivotal early decades of the new Christian movement.
- The veneration for Jesus was accommodated by this exclusivist posture in early Christian groups, nevertheless.
They insisted that the one God had confirmed Jesus’ exalted position “at God’s right hand,” and they saw their reverence for Jesus as an act of obedience to the will of the one God, who had bestowed upon Jesus heavenly glory with the intention of all of creation acclaiming Jesus as its Savior and Lord.
- It is reasonable to assume that the actual amount of bad effects experienced by Christians varied, and I do not want to imply that all believers were subjected to any and all of the types of experiences and stressors that I discuss throughout this chapter.
- In the case of certain Christians, their religious beliefs have even gotten them into difficulties with the state (usually local authorities).
- Towards the end of Chapter Four, I restrict my attention on a single passage from the Apostle Paul’s epistle, Philippians 2:6-11, which is usually regarded as one of the most significant early expressions of devotion to Jesus by researchers of Christian origins.
- Researchers have paid a great deal of attention to this specific line, which is commonly believed to include the words of an early Christian ode or hymn that was used in worship.
- Despite the numerous prior studies of the chapter, I hope to be able to add something new to our understanding of this enthralling section.
- In ancient texts, the term “monotheism” was not utilized; it is a phrase coined by modern scholars.
- Some have even questioned whether it is legitimate to attribute “monotheism” to the Jewish religion of the Roman era in the first place.
Even more specifically, I contend that when we consider the exceptional character of the first devotion to Jesus in the context of ancient Jewish worries about the uniqueness of the one God, we are better equipped to comprehend its true magnitude.
When it comes to paying tribute to Jesus, I examine the four canonical Gospels (our oldest narrative traditions about Jesus), with a special emphasis on the Greek termproskynein (which means “to pay honor to Jesus”) (meaning “to reverence, give homage, worship”).
While some scholars have voiced skepticism about the extent to which the devotion to Jesus that I emphasize equated to considering Jesus as divine in the initial decades of the church and in Jewish-Christian groups, others have expressed confidence.
Nevertheless, what evidence do we have that this occurred, asks the opposing viewpoint?
More to the point, I contend that the intensity of hostility indicates that those Jews concerned with safeguarding their religious traditions viewed devotion to Jesus as a profoundly shocking phenomena.
(Continues.) Taken from the book How Did Jesus Become God on the Planet Earth?
Hurtado contributed to this report.
With permission, I have included an excerpt.
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How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?) Larry Hurtado analyzes the tremendous devotion to Jesus that arose unexpectedly quickly after his death, and how it came to be. According to Hurtado, early Christians’ reverence for Jesus contained both big assertions about Jesus’ significance and a pattern of devotional rituals that regarded him as if he were a divine being. Despite one’s feelings about such devotion to Jesus, the author of this book contends that the matter merits serious historical investigation.
He then goes on to discuss the hostility to – and severe consequences of – adoring Jesus, the history of absorbing such devotion into Jewish monotheistic, and the significance of religious experience in the creation of Christianity as a result of the Jewish faith.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus)
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Overview How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?) Larry Hurtado analyzes the tremendous devotion to Jesus that arose unexpectedly quickly after his death, and how it came to be. According to Hurtado, early Christians’ reverence for Jesus contained both big assertions about Jesus’ significance and a pattern of devotional rituals that regarded him as if he were a divine being. Despite one’s feelings about such devotion to Jesus, the author of this book contends that the matter merits serious historical investigation.
- He then goes on to discuss the hostility to – and severe consequences of – adoring Jesus, the history of absorbing such devotion into Jewish monotheistic, and the significance of religious experience in the creation of Christianity as a result of the Jewish faith.
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Larry W. Hurtado is the author of this work. Format:Paperback Pages:246 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company is the publisher (November 2, 2005) Language:English ISBN-13:9780802828613ISBN-10:0802828612 Weight:12oz Dimensions: 6″ x 9″ x 0.616″File:EERDMANS-EerdmansPublishing 02022022 P4897216 onix21 Complete-20220201.xmlEERDMANS-EerdmansPublishing 02022022 P4897216 onix21 Complete-20220201.xml Folder:EERDMANS As low as: $15.68 off the list price of $27.50 P-EERDiscount Code:C Publisher Identifier:P-EERDiscount Code:C
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In the words of one reviewer, The Bible Today is “written with clarity, cogency, and considerable knowledge, it is both a pleasure to read and an important challenge to much modern scholarship.” John Koenig is a professor at the General Theological Seminary.” Dedicated to uncovering the origins of Jesus’ disciples’ remarkable commitment to him, Larry Hurtado is altering the face of New Testament studies.
Hurtado’s research is transforming the face of New Testament studies. In this chapter, he delivers his points with power and clarity while also including an essential chapter on the great cost of Jesus-devotion to first-century Christians within their sociopolitical and family structures, which was previously unpublished.” The Calvin Theological Journal is a publication dedicated to the study of Calvinism “The pendulum has now returned to its original position!
“The finest brief and mature introduction to the majority of prior work.
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? : Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus
“How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?” asks the author. Larry Hurtado analyzes the tremendous devotion to Jesus that arose unexpectedly quickly after his death, and how it came to be. According to Hurtado, early Christians’ reverence for Jesus contained both big assertions about Jesus’ significance and a pattern of devotional rituals that regarded him as if he were a divine being. Despite one’s feelings about such devotion to Jesus, the author of this book contends that the matter merits serious historical investigation.
Hurtado’s award-winning book “Lord Jesus Christ” (2003) serves as a follow-up to that work, and this book presents persuasive answers to questions regarding the evolution of Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus.
‘The Bible Today’ is a delight to read and a significant challenge to much of modern scholarship because it is “written with clarity, cogency, and tremendous erudition.” John Koenig is a professor at the General Theological Seminary.” Dedicated to uncovering the origins of Jesus’ disciples’ remarkable commitment to him, Larry Hurtado is altering the face of New Testament studies. Hurtado’s research is transforming the face of New Testament studies. In this chapter, he delivers his points with power and clarity while also including an essential chapter on the great cost of Jesus-devotion to first-century Christians within their sociopolitical and family structures, which was previously unpublished.” The Calvin Theological Journal is a publication dedicated to the study of Calvinism “The pendulum has now returned to its original position!
“Choice”is the most succinct and mature introduction to the bulk of the previous work.
In addition to contributing to our knowledge of New Testament Christology, it also provides an important and distinctive contribution to our historical understanding of the beginnings and development of Christian faith.
Originally published in November 2005.
Eerdmans Publishing Co.Country of publication:United States of America Dimensions (in centimeters): 22.9 x 14.6 x 1.3 0.36 kilograms (kg)