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Into the New Year

January 1, 2015

Per the WordPress statistics, 2014 was a big year for this blog site, with over 312,000 views, up some 60% over 2013.  That’s encouraging, obviously, and (most) comments suggest that this site is informative and helpful to (most) readers.  There are a few who seem not to like or approve of anything I write, and apparently read my postings simply to disagree or be difficult.  Ah well, too much time on their hands I guess.

But thanks to the rest of you for making me feel that it’s worth the time and effort to continue this site.  In the coming weeks I’ll continue to post on remaining contributions to the multi-author volume recently published in my honour.  I’m finding the contributions all very informative and worth notice.

But for now, a Happy and healthy 2015 to you all.


P.S.  I’ve published some of the many kind and encouraging comments, but then realized it was beginning to look a bit too congratulatory.  So, I read with appreciation a number of others but chose not to include them all.  Be assured that I’ve read them all, and I thank you all for your affirming comments.

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  1. Julian permalink

    I’m not sure how I understate the evidence for experiences, post resurrection, of a glorified Jesus. There are two accounts in the NT: Stephen’s and Paul’s. All the other post resurrection experiences are of a non-glorified Jesus. It would seem that Jesus resurrection would demonstrate that God considered him not guilty (and not cursed), and that he was the Messiah, the king. His ascension into Heaven would vindicate Jesus’ claim that he would sit at the right hand of God. When a replacement apostle is chosen, it is considered important that he be someone who was a witness from Jesus’ baptism until “he was taken up.”

    I suggest that Jesus sitting at God’s right hand signaled that he was to be given honor and devotion that previously had been reserved for God alone.

    • Julian, I can only ask that, if you wish your view to have any force beyond yourself, you take account of the body of evidence and scholarly analysis, perhaps beginning with my own book, One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (1988, 1998). I repeat: Heavenly ascent by itself didn’t seem to provoke worship of a figure. Something more was required, in my view something sufficient to demand the kind of reverence of Jesus that we see reflected in our earliest Christian texts (Paul’s letters). I propose that earliest believers felt that God now required that Jesus be reverenced. So, how did they come to this conviction?
      As for resurrection experiences, we have a list of appearances recited by Paul in 1 Cor 15:1-7, plus the visions of Revelation 4–5, plus the resurrection-appearance narratives of the Gospels, all of which project the notion that the risen/glorified (and Jesus’ resurrection and glorification are inseparable) now has a status that justifies reverence.
      But, as I say, this isn’t the venue to consider the data adequately. You’ll have to read the work produced. . . . if you’re really interested.

      • Julian permalink

        As I already indicated, I am waiting for your two major works to arrive in the mail. I agree that ascension by itself is insufficient. It must at least be joined to a claim made by Jesus that he will sit at the right hand of God. Such a claim may have been made by a pre-resurrected Jesus to his disciples, or to Caiaphas at his hearing, or by a resurrected Jesus to his disciples, or all three.

        As to experiences of a resurrected Jesus, prior to his ascension, none of them indicate the type of glorification that you seem to think necessary in How on Earth….. Instead, we are told of people who at first mistake Jesus for another man. The only difference is that he disappears and appears at will. Perhaps that is enough to be considered glorification. But it is not the kind associated with Stephen’s, Paul’s, or Revelation’s, which are all post-ascension accounts.

        Looking forward to reading your major works.

  2. TFN permalink

    As one of the undoubtedly many non-commenters who read this blog regularly (or even from time to time), many thanks for always posting insightful and intriguing thoughts or links. I am pleased to have your site bookmarked on my browser and wish you continued success.

  3. Jack Harper permalink

    I am most appreciative of your efforts. To converse in Christian origins – this is not easy. I find your articles shaping and honing my intellect in both substance and process. Your articles challenge and provoke me to think deeply and with clarity. I truly hope you continue this work. Thank you.

  4. Rick permalink

    Thank you very much for your blog Dr. Hurtado. I am not a scholar, just a person who likes to read all papers related to first century of the Christianism and I have not found a site like this. My personal gift for Christmas has been Mark, Manuscripts….and I am very glad to have the oportunity to read all these essays that help me to make my own theory about what happened in Israel 2000 years ago.

  5. Congratulations on the success of your blog. I think many people like the dialogue between your own ideas, and the recent critical speculations of the “young Turks.” Like the New Mythicists.

  6. Julian permalink

    While ordering your books, I noticed Dunn’s Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? Does he attempt to refute your views in his book?

    • Dunn dedicated the book to Richard Bauckham and me, signalling a friendly-but-critical discussion of the subject. I’ve reviewed the book earlier on this blog site. Use the “search” box for it, e.g., “Dunn”

      • Julian permalink

        I just finished (except for the Epilogue) your book, How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God/ Still waiting for your other two books to arrive. I think there is a weakness in your suggestion that the cause of believing that Jesus was divine was based on post-resurrection experiences of seeing a glorified Jesus. Other than Stephen’s and Paul’s, there is no record of such experiences in the New Testament. We do have the Transfiguration, but that is pre-resurrection.

        I would suggest that witnessing the Ascension was probably the key causal event to re-interpreting Jesus as divine.

      • Thanks, Julian. But you understate the evidence for early Christian religious experiences such as I underscore. And you refer to “the Ascension,” by which I presume you mean the singular account given in Acts 1. But there is nothing particularly unique about accounts of humans ascending to heaven (Enoch, Elijah, Paul [2 Cor 12], John [Rev. 4:1]), and nothing in such an event that would justify the person being given worship or seeing him/her as divine.

  7. Donald Jacobs permalink

    Happy new year. I just watched Paul Foster’s remarks about your blog. What a hoot!

  8. John Pryor permalink

    Dear Larry,

    Be encouraged! Many of us appreciate your insights and comments.

    John Pryor

  9. Steve Walach permalink

    And a Happy and Healthy New Year to you, Larry.

    Thanks for keeping such an important conversation moving along, and with such clarity, passion and dedication.

    I look forward to reading further posting on the multi-author volume … and I was hoping you’d consider responding to a comment related to the Paul Owen’s essay you blogged about in mid-December. If not, I understand.

    When Jesus is explicating the parable of the sower (Mark 4: 13 – 20), he tells his disciples that the sower sows “the word.”

    In keeping with Owen’s view of Jesus as a figure who acts in the place of YHWH, I wonder if there is any justification for interpreting Mark’s “word” in a similar way to John’s “Logos/Word” in the prologue to his gospel.

    In his 2010 book, The Jewish Targum’s and John’s Logos Theology, John Ronning makes a case for equating Logos and Memra/Dibbera and YHWH based on his analysis of Philo, his reading of the Aramaic texts, and the Tetragrammaton as it appears in the Masoretic Text.

    Ronning’s analysis is lengthy – and esoteric in the sense that it has extensive references to many of the Targums written in Aramaic, which are far beyond my reach, so much so that I am probably not doing his book justice. In addition, in his book has only passing references to Mark. Ronning mainly limits his thesis to the gospel of John.

    However, I have to wonder if there is any plausibility that Mark’s Greek might have a similar convergence of meaning – namely a rough, or perhaps precise, equivalence between “word” (in Mark 4: 13 – 20) and YHWH.

    Thanks for considering.

    • The idea that “memra” is relevant to John’s “logos” is an old one. There are certain similarities, but it’s difficult to establish direct indebtedness (analogy doesn’t necessarily = a genetic connection). Part of the problem is that the Targums are several centuries later than the NT. And Philo’s “logos” is much closer in time. There are some conceptual similarities to the Johannine prologue, but, again, it’s most unlikely that there is any direct connection. Instead, GJohn and Philo more likely reflect the kinds of adaptation of biblical ideas current in Roman-era Jewish traditions.

  10. Dr. Hurtado, With scholarship like Kurt Eichenwald’s “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” in Newsweeks’ double issue, there needs to be scholars who bring credulity to the field of biblical studies. May you find yourself surrounded with good friends and experience good health and success in your academic pursuits.

  11. Many thanks for the time taken to keep this blog alive! I am sure that for every reader who has made discontent his or her personal policy, there are hundreds of readers who appreciate the information you publish.

  12. Stephen C. Carlson permalink

    Thank you, Larry. Your blog has been a stand-out example of the best that academic blogs can deliver. I appreciate your efforts over the past year and I look forward to the next.

    • Tommy Wasserman permalink

      I agree with Stephen. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and ideas in this forum.

  13. Julian permalink

    I’m half way through How on Earth did Jesus Become a God?, and I’ve ordered Lord Jesus Christ and One God, One Lord. Happy New Year.

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