Greer Heard Preview Pt. 3: Larry Hurtado

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Steve: Tell me Dr. Hurtado, where are you from?

Larry: I was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

Steve: And how did you get to this point today?

hurtado-high-res2Larry: After high school, I took a BA in Biblical Studies and then an MA in New Testament, followed by a short stint of teaching in a small Christian college, and a year on pastoral staff of a church in Ohio.  Then I did my PhD (1973, Case Western Reserve University), followed by a pastoral post in the Chicago area.  In 1975, I was appointed to the faculty of Regent College (Vancouver, Canada, 1975-78), and then moved to the Department of Religion in the University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, 1978-96).  In 1996, I was given the professorial chair in New Testament Language, Literature & Theology in the University of Edinburgh.  Since 2011, I have been Professor Emeritus, continuing active in research and writing in my subject.

Steve: Who are some of the authors that have influenced you the most?

Larry: Over such a long time (I began biblical studies at course level in 1961!) there have been many influences.  Early on in studies, Oscar Cullmann, Johannes Munck, W.D. Davies, and others such gave me fine examples of creative and thorough exegesis.  Early in my post-PhD career, Martin Hengel’s works informed and set a high mark to reach for.  There are too many others in specific topics and matters to mention here, including older figures such as J. B. Lightfoot and C. H. Dodd, and more recent figures such as R.E. Brown, E. P. Sanders, Richard Bauckham, Jimmy Dunn.  Some, such as Wilhelm Bousset, with whom I have disagreed, have nevertheless influenced me in setting forth questions that I have sought to address.

Steve: What are you going to assert at Greer Heard this year?

Larry: I contend that the most significant indication of the status that the risen Jesus held in early Christian circles is his inclusion with God as rightful recipient of worship.  In the ancient Roman setting, worship was the key expression of religion, and in ancient Jewish tradition too.  Jewish tradition typically and firmly reserved worship for God alone, refusing worship of other gods or the various angels and other exalted figures.  But from the earliest point for which we have evidence, there erupted a novel “dyadic” devotional pattern in which both God and Jesus were uniquely given worship.

Steve: And how will Bart Ehrman respond to your position?

Larry: I suspect that he will largely agree, although he has written (incorrectly in my view) that in Jewish tradition high angels were sometimes worshipped.