Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part Seven

BEN: One of your major theses seems to be that while Jews were viewed as peculiar, and even perverse, because of their worship of only one God, their God, nevertheless, because they were a specific ethnic group, it was largely written off as a peculiarity of that ethnos. But the problem for Christianity was, in your view, that it involved a considerable number of Gentile converts from paganism, and this was what was problematic. But even in Paul’s churches, there were both Jewish and Gentile f … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part Six

BEN: While many Jews might be prone to see Jesus followers as heretics—defectors from true Judaism especially if we are talking about Jewish Christians, this of course doesn’t explain the strong reaction to Christians by various pagans, perhaps especially a reaction against Gentiles who became followers of Jesus. How would you articulate the character of these two different sorts of negative reactions? What’s the real difference? Were Jews more concerned with orthopraxy vis and vis keeping Torah … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part Five

BEN: One of the interesting points you make about Pliny’s famous reference to Christians is that he apparently knows about persecution, prosecution etc. of Christians elsewhere in the Empire, but he is not sure how to proceed in his own province-- hence the letter. You also make the important point that the remedy that Pliny uses (namely worshipping the Emperor, cursing Christ etc.) indicates that there was something especially problematic with early Christian worship and its focus on Christ. In … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part Four

BEN: In your first full chapter, you talk about the Jewish and pagan reactions to earliest Christianity. One theme which keeps surfacing is that there were strong negative reactions at the ideological level, not just in terms of praxis. This in turn suggests there must have been something distinctive, and apparently repugnant to many, about the early Christian belief system. You also point out some of the differences between the reaction to early Judaism (which did sometimes involve satire and … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part Three

BEN: Reading your review of Stark’s 10 factors on why a religious movement succeeds, you point to the fact that the movement on the one hand must maintain some continuity with its cultural setting so it is not seen as totally alien and incomprehensible, but at the same time it must have some distinguishing features, presumably appealing distinguishing features, that set it apart from its setting, including certain behavioral demands made on insiders. The boundaries between insider and outsider m … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the God’s Part Two

BEN: Bruce Longenecker has now brought forth reasonably clear evidence that the graffito in Pompeii that uses the word Christianos makes clear that the term was being used of Christians (whether insiders or outsiders) in that city in the 60s or 70s. This would seem to comport with the literary evidence about the term being used in Antioch. This is important because it means that outsiders saw this group as something distinctive from Judaism in general in some ways, and presumably insiders did as … [Read more...]

Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods– Part One

Larry Hurtado's new book, Destroyer of the Gods, which will emerge in a couple of weeks (Baylor, 2016 305 pages), is an important contribution to a goodly number of discussions about the formation of earliest Christianity, and whether or not it qualifies as a new or distinctive religion. In my view, its one of Larry's best books. Accordingly, we will have a dialogue with Larry about the book on the eve of its release.BEN: On p. 2 you talk about the earliest followers of Jesus believing … [Read more...]

Fostering the Arts?— Florence Foster Jenkins'm on record as saying I'd watch Meryl Streep play Kermit the Frog, she is such an amazing actress, and it's nice to watch her grow older and continue to play important age appropriate roles for her, like Julia Childs and now Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944), a very interesting music maven indeed. It will be worth your while to read the whole Wiki article on her, as the movie is a very faithful representation of both her personality and the last … [Read more...]

The Sin of Apostasy– Hebrews 6 Revisited

(The following is an excursus found in my Hebrew commentary in Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians (IVP).THE EXEGETICAL ARM-WRESTLING OF PROTESTANTS OVER HEB. 6.1-6—A ‘TASTE’ OF THE DEBATETheological systems, while not bad in themselves, can often lead to very strained interpretations of Biblical texts, especially when the ‘system’ is the primary intellectual grid through which the text is being read. This can easily be illustrated from a close reading of Protestant commentar … [Read more...]