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“Honoring the Son”: An Entree Work

June 29, 2019

As I’m often asked for a short introduction to the line that I take in discussing earliest Jesus-devotion (some finding the 600+ pp. Lord Jesus Christ a bit too much to take in), I think that now I would recommend my little volume that appeared last year:  Honoring the Son:  Jesus in Earliest Christian Devotional Practice (Lexham Press, 2018).

Here are the main points that I lay out in the small book:

  1. In the ancient Roman world, worship was the key expression of what we call “religion,” not doctrines or confessional formulas.
  2. The key distinguishing feature of Roman-era Judaism in the larger religious environment was its exclusivity of worship, and an accompanying refusal to worship any deities other than the God of Israel.
  3. This exclusivity extended also to a refusal to worship any of the adjutants of the biblical God, such as angels, messiahs, etc.
  4. In light of these things the emergent place of Jesus in earliest Christian worship and devotional practice along with God in a “dyadic” devotional pattern was highly noteworthy, even more remarkable than the familiar christological titles and confessional formulas.
  5. The place of Jesus in earliest Christian devotion can be described in specific actions that allow us to consider any putative parallels, and so to note and confirm any innovation in comparison with the wider Jewish context in which Jesus-devotion initially appeared.

I note that the book can be had in traditional soft-cover paper format and also in e-book form.

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  1. Michael Mojica permalink

    A little book (“Honoring the Son”) but a rich book in how it tracks Jesus devotional practice in the early church (particularly in Paul). I have mine all marked up and I’m sure I’ll continue to use it as a quick reference of Jesus devotion in light of Torah, 2nd Temple, and Messianic expectations.

  2. John Mitrosky permalink

    So you would say that James H. Charlesworth has not been reading the text carefully?

    • I would hold, John, that the Parables of 1 Enoch (1) don’t reflect the worship of the messianic figure, but instead show obeisance given to him as the conquering messianic figure, and (2) in any case are visions of some future events, and so are not indicative of any actual cultic practice among any Jewish group of the time when the Parables were written.

  3. John Mitrosky permalink

    The best Jewish putative parallel to honoring a son, or the son remains the PE. No matter how you name that son specifically (“the son of humankind”, “the son of the offspring of the mother of the living”, “the son of a man”, etc.) he is still a “son”. Obviously, at least to my mind, this son’s father is “the Lord of Spirits”, or “the Lord of the Spirits”. You can even see a progression in thought here: “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah); “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Spirits”; holy, holy holy is the “Holy Spirit” (Paul and the canonical Gospels). Furthermore, the houses of this son’s congregation are persecuted. Belief in him and his God “The Lord of Spirits” is denied. Faith in the son and his Lord of Spirits is lacking, People are ashamed and question who he is. Granted, we do not have any detail as to how this son was worshiped in devotional practice, but it does not follow that such worship and devotional practice did not exist. It only follows that we have no other documents pertaining to the worship of this nameless son specifically, as compared to honoring the specific name of Jesus as son to be honored. The theological pattern and particulars are so similar though. That cannot be denied, in my opinion

    • John, John, John. The Parables of 1 Enoch DON’T show the messianic figure (who isn’t, by the way, described as God’s son) being worshipped by the faithful. They show foreign kings giving him obeisance, but that’s all. And the figure in question is unknown and to be revealed only in the eschaton. So, no cultus to him in the text or on earth at present. NOT a parallel or precedent for what we have in the early Christian circles. Not at all. It’s easily deniable to anyone who reads the text carefully, John!!

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