Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The “Early and Explosively Quick” emergence of “Early High Christology”

Larry Hurtado has posted on his blog a bit about what is the central focus of his work:

...  the emergence of “Jesus-devotion” in earliest Christianity, and in discussions with the class and with others over recent years, Wilhelm Bousset’s classic work, Kyrios Christos (ET, Nashville:  Abingdon, 1970; German 1913, 1921) naturally comes up. 

One of the clarifying/correcting points I’ve repeatedly made in recent years about Bousset’s work is that he actually supported a very early and explosively quick emergence of the worship of Jesus (in his terms, the “Kyrios-cult”).   The crucial evidence he correctly cited is the letters of Paul, which show that he took for granted the treatment of the risen Jesus as rightful co-recipient of Christian worship.  Paul doesn’t spend any time explaining or advocating Jesus-devotion; he presumes that his readers already practice it.

So, as Bousset further judged, this level of Jesus-devotion must have characterized the form of early Christian circles into which Paul was introduced after what he described as a divine revelation that re-oriented him dramatically from opponent to adherent and proponent of Jesus and early Christian faith.  In chronological terms, this means that this “Kyrios-cult” must have “erupted” (Bousset’s term) within the very first months or few years at most, for Paul’s “conversion” is by wide agreement dated within 1-3 years after Jesus’ execution…

Especially in [my 2003 book, Lord Jesus Christ:  Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Eerdmans)], I’ve given reasons for judging that the Jesus-devotion reflected in Paul’s letters was likely shared by Jewish believers in Roman Palestine as well as Paul’s converts in various cities.

On … the question of whether this “high” level of Jesus-devotion arose early and suddenly or late and incrementally, Bousset was emphatically of the view that it appeared early and explosively quickly.

No comments:

Post a Comment