dunn

Did the Early Christians Worship Jesus?

My first question in my first ever Post Graduate seminar at the University of St Andrews, St Mary’s School of Divinity: “Did the Early Christians Worship Jesus?” It’s actually a question from James D. G. Dunn’s book, written primarily in response to Larry Hurtado’s “Lord Jesus Christ, Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity.

Hurtado answers with a vehement “yes!” Dunn replies with a “maybe, but improbable.” So how did two eminent theological heavyweights, both experts in christology, come to such different conclusions? The answer is quite complicated, requiring deep reflection and careful analysis of relevant biblical texts (both Old and New Testaments), extra-biblical material, 2nd Temple Jewish and Hellenistic materials, as well as scholarly work up to modern times.

Underlying the question is an even more basic one: How on earth did Jesus become a divine figure since Judaism from which he emerged was radically monotheistic? That basic question has confounded biblical scholars for a long time.

So, actually, we might have to begin with the old German History of Religions School which answered the question with an emphatic “no!”

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