Continuing Conversation with Larry Hurtado on Monotheism, Christology and Worship

Continuing Conversation with Larry Hurtado on Monotheism, Christology and Worship November 19, 2010

I am delighted that Larry Hurtado has taken the time to respond to my earlier response, and allow his review of The Only True God to evolve into a “bloggersation.”

To begin my own brief reply, let me not only share the link to Hurtado’s reply, but also links to a couple of my own earlier blog entries in which I discussed Richard Bauckham’s work, since Bauckham’s work was mentioned in Hurtado’s review.

I also want to ask readers whether my brief discussion of Trypho’s objections is so brief as to come across as an attempt to “spin” them, rather than offer an interpretation of them. The longer a blog post, the less likely that it will be read in detail if at all, but I would be happy to revisit those texts in a post devoted solely to that subject, if anyone reading this would find that interesting and worthwhile.

I am also curious whether others who have read my book felt that I did an inadequate job of highlighting evidence from Jewish inscriptions and texts for a wider array of Jewish viewpoints and practices related to prostration before figures other than God, invoking angels, and other relevant matters. Hurtado’s failure to discuss that primary source material in his review and subsequent blog posts makes me wonder if I failed to highlight this material sufficiently, or offered an interpretation of it that some readers found so unpersuasive as to not require discussion or reply.

On the question of the Similitudes of Enoch, they certainly do not reflect many distinctive Christian devotional practices. But I hesitate to draw wide-ranging conclusions from this difference, since it may simply reflect the difference between a depiction of what it was hoped that the future Messiah would be like, and a response to a figure believed to be the long-awaited Messiah having actually appeared and brought salvation in one’s own time. It doesn’t seem to me at all unreasonable to suggest that the latter might include practices and expressions of devotion that differed from and went beyond the former.

We simply don’t know whether the author of the Similitudes would or would not have responded to a figure who appeared in history, and whom he believed to be “that Son of Man,” in a similar or different manner to the response of Christians to Jesus. And so I am hesitant to treat these differences (or rather the mere absence of certain devotional practices from the Similitudes) as evidence that what Christians did would have been objectionable to that author.

Let me leave it at that for the time being. As most readers know, it is time for the Society of Biblical Literature conference, and so there may not be as much blogging about this by Larry Hurtado, myself, or other interested parties. But hopefully the conference will provide many opportunities to continue to discuss subjects like this face-to-face – even including discussions with scholars interested in this subject but who do not have blogs!

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