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...]

Ben Hur Redivivus—- the 2016 version I remember the 1959 film Ben Hur. No child of eight who saw that film could ever forget that climactic chariot race, nor the scenes of slaves rowing a giant Roman galley, nor for that matter the story of a Jewish family that had members that became followers of Jesus of Nazareth, but struggled with the desire for revenge when they were betrayed. It was an epic film in 1959 (212 minutes, starring Charleton Heston in his Biblical epic prime-- … [Read more...]

Pagan Angels???

Having just returned from another archaeological trip to Turkey, and having seen clear evidence of pagan belief in angels (see the picture below), I found my colleague Larry Hurtado's excellent summary worth reposting. ---by Larry HurtadoOver the past few days, I've been slowly digesting a recent large article surveying Greek inscriptions referring to "angels" in Roman Asia Minor: G. H. R. Horsley and Jean M. Luxford, "Pagan Angels in Roman Asia Minor: Revisiting the Epigraphic … [Read more...]