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. 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 revered 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. 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 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?
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Hurtado has swum against the prevailing currents of scholarship in locating a well-developed Christology at the well springs of the Jesus movement in the Jewish community. His arguments may prove to be the most significant advance in New Testament studies in our times.
—Concordia Theological Quarterly
Hurtado has provided scholars with a study of impressive scope and erudition that should be read and engaged by all those seeking to understand the origins of Christianity.
The present volume is a veritable tour de force, as Hurtado wends his way through the New Testament, 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 New Testament study.
—Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Hurtado approaches the early church with an integrity and thoroughness that should be a model for historians and theologians working in this area. . . . His writing is uncomplicated and illuminating, and his sensibilities are evangelical in the best sense of the term.
Larry W. Hurtado is professor emeritus of New Testament language, literature, and theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.