Ken Schenck blogged about the worship of Jesus, and I feel honored to be included among his list of “key players.” He summarized the views of a number of scholars, but because we are friends and fellow bloggers, he asked me how he did. Here’s what he wrote to summarize my viewpoint:
a. I believe he considers the worship of YHWH generally exclusive.
b. But he does believe there were precedents for a softer worship of other beings associated with YHWH within a Judaism whose understanding of monotheism changed over time.
c. He does not believe that the earliest worship of Jesus was as robust as Hurtado or Bauckham think. In particular, Jesus was never the recipient of sacrificial worship.
d. He thus does not see the early reverence of Jesus as any kind of departure from the monotheistic precedents within Judaism.
That seems to me to be a good summary. For those who may want more detail, let me expand briefly on each point:
- I think that most if not all Jews were convinced that Yahweh alone was worthy of sacrificial worship.
- There was a lot of room in Judaism for prostration before another figure and other such acts of “veneration” to be appropriate, if the figure in question was an agent of the one God, rather than a figure thought to be competing for esteem and honor with the one God.
- I’ve found myself disagreeing more frequently with Richard Bauckham than with Larry Hurtado, and on more substantive points, I think – see my previous posts on Bauckham’s work and the conversation I had with Hurtado in response to his review of my book for more details.
- I am indeed convinced that, in responding to Jesus as they did, none of the earliest Christians thought they were in any way being unfaithful to Jewish monotheism.