Before the New Testament or the creeds of the church were written—the devotional practices of the earliest Christians show that they worshipped Jesus alongside the Father.
Larry W. Hurtado has been one of the leading scholars on early Christology for decades. In Honoring the Son, Hurtado helps readers understand Christology by examining not just what early Christians believed or wrote about Jesus, but what their devotional practices tell us about the place of Jesus in early Christian worship.
Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Christian origins and scholarship on New Testament Christology, Hurtado examines the distinctiveness of early Christian worship by comparing it to both Jewish worship patterns and worship practices within the broader Roman-era religious environment. He argues that the inclusion of the risen Jesus alongside the Father in early Christian devotional practices was a distinct and unique religious phenomenon within its ancient context. Additionally, Hurtado demonstrates that this remarkable development was not invented decades after the resurrection of Christ as some scholars once claimed. Instead, the New Testament suggests that Jesus-followers, very quickly after the resurrection of Christ, began to worship the Son alongside the Father. Honoring the Son offers a look into the worship habits of the earliest Christians to understand the place of Jesus in Christian devotion.
I have a love-hate relationship with this elegant summary of Larry Hurtado’s massive scholarly contribution to earliest Christian understandings of Jesus. On the one hand, I can’t wait to get Honoring the Son into the hands of my students because it puts in front of them all of his best thinking; on the other hand, I have been reading Hurtado’s works for 30 years, book by book, article by article. Need I say it took lots of work to read his body of work? Need I say now that we have all his major thoughts now available in one evening’s reading? One generation’s efforts are the next generation’s beginning points, so start here. You’ll rise up and call me blessed!
—Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
When I was taking a course on the history of New Testament interpretation in 1990, we read Wilhelm Bousset's book on the emergence of the worship of Jesus as Deity as the landmark work. In the same course today, we would be reading Bousset alongside Larry Hurtado, often in point-counterpoint fashion. Hurtado's work on this key issue—how Jesus came to be recognized as divine—is of central importance not only to students of early Christianity but indeed to all who worship Jesus, and it is with great excitement that I hold in my hand so accessible a summary of his decades of sifting through the evidence, a book I can recommend not only to my seminary students but to everyone in my congregation who ever asks the question.
—David A. deSilva, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary
It is thirty years since Larry Hurtado’s first book on early Christian devotion to Jesus burst upon the scene—and changed everything scholars previously assumed about the development of Christology and even Christianity itself. Over the last three decades, Hurtado has followed that up with ever larger and more detailed volumes, demonstrating the evidence for his view that the first Christians, despite their Jewish identity, worshipped Jesus alongside God the Father. In this little book, Hurtado sets out the steps of his main argument clearly and logically with admirable precision and conciseness, undergirded by years of scholarship and setting it within current academic debate. This book is a godsend (literally!) to the thinking believer and the inquiring searcher alike—and is greatly to be welcomed and applauded.
—The Revd Canon Prof Richard Burridge FKC, The Dean of King's College London and Professor of Biblical Interpretation
“ In the ancient Roman world, worship was the key expression of ‘religion,’ not beliefs and confessional formulas;” (Page 1)
“this exclusivity involved refusal also to worship the adjutants of the biblical God, not simply foreign deities” (Page 1)
“In my view, the worship of Jesus was not a corollary of something else, but was a noteworthy development in its own right that arose as obedience to the perception that it was God’s will.” (Page 12)
“There was no notion that your gods would be offended if you joined in honoring the deities of other cities or nations. The key exception, however, was the behavior typical of Jews.” (Page 27)
“from plague, for example, and offended family deities might not protect the household from disease or other perils.” (Page 22)
The Snapshots series, edited by renowned scholar Michael Bird, engages significant issues in contemporary biblical scholarship, making them accessible to busy students of the word and applicable in the life of the church.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Larry W. Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is the author of many books and articles, notably Destroyer of the Gods and Lord Jesus Christ.
Edward D. Andrews