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One God, One Lord (Part 7)

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I continue to work through the preface of Larry Hurtado’s classic, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. It has been published in its 3rd edition recently by Bloomsbury T. & T. Clark, as a part of its Cornerstones Series. Larry-Hurtado-1756565

In the 1990s there were a number of books published  on theology and Christology which Hurtado felt deserved special notice.  They were:

Larry Kreitzer, Jesus and God in Paul’s Eschatology (JSNTSup 19; Sheffield: JSOT     Press, 1987).

 

David Capes, Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology (WUNT 2/47; Tubingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1992)

 

Carl Davis, The Name and Way of the Lord: Old Testament Themes, New Testament Christology (JSNTSup 129; Sheffield:Sheffield Academic Press, 1996).

 

Carey Newman, Paul’s Glory-Christology: Tradition and Rhetoric (NovTSup 69;  Leiden:Brill, 1992).

 

Neil Richardson, Paul’s Language about God (JSNTSup 99; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994).

 

Philp Davis rightly noted three patterns of mediation established in Jewish religious texts of the time.  He referred to (a) the legacy pattern—which had to do with the role a mediator figure played in the past (e.g., creation); (b) the present pattern—which emphasized the role of a mediator in the present; (c) the future pattern—which anticipated a future or eschatological figure (e.g. messianic).  Davis, however, in Hurtado’s opinion, could never account adequately for the kind of honor and reverence early Christians granted to Jesus as Messiah.  All three patterns come together in a single figure in Christ.

John Collins’ critique of Hurtado was that he did not pay enough attention to royal messianic figures.  Hurtado does speak of messianic figures in ch. 1 of ONE GOD, ONE LORD, but his point is not to dwell on messianic figures.  His purpose was to focus on those kind of figures that had some analogous heavenly status to the risen Jesus in early Christianity.  Messianic figures in most Jewish sources (except 1 Enoch).could be characterized as having a more earthly orientation.  This is why Hurtado paid attention to exalted patriarchs and principal angels.

Most studies during this period were focused more on religious language and religious beliefs related to the Lord Jesus.  Hurtado’s primary emphasis was and continued to be the practices of early Christians, particularly as they related to granting Jesus any sort of divine status.

Max Turner proposed that experiences of revelation and inspiration by the power of the Holy Spirit or what believers took to be the spirit sent by the risen and exalted Jesus contributed heavily to the notion that Jesus was divine and was therefore worthy of worship.  Hurtado appreciated Turner’s study and the work of his student, Mehrdad Fatehi.

Hurtado ends his preface to the second edition expressing appreciation for the renewed interest in Christology at the time.  The final word on the subject had not been written by Wilhelm Bousset (Kyrios Christos) and Oscar Cullman (A Christology of the New Testament).  More was yet to be discovered for anyone daring enough to take a second look.

 


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