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At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion Paperback – September 7, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (September 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802847498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802847492
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Theology (UK)
"A concise and useful introduction to the subject of roots of Christian worship."

Worship Leader
"This book proves to be pointed and helpful in coming to a greater understanding and appreciation of the origins of Christian worship. I recommend it especially to those wanting to better understand worship's roots."

Toronto Journal of Theology
"In a manner that is both innovative and challenging, Hurtado seeks to locate early Christian theology within the context of early Christian worship (rather than the other way around), comparing Christian practices described in the New Testament with alternative religious expressions from the contemporary Mediterranean world. . . As a rich introduction to Christian worship in its social context, Hurtado's praxis-oriented approach bears much fruit, including its ability to suggest so many promising avenues for further research and debate."

Anglican Theological Review
"This brief, scholarly, and readable book considers -- as its subtitle accurately puts it -- the context and character of early Christian devotion. Larry Hurtado, a leading scholar of evangelical background, seeks to describe the setting in which the earliest Christian worship arose and certain of its features, and then to reflect on issues for contemporary Christian worship."

About the Author

Larry W. Hurtado is professor emeritus of New Testament language, literature, and theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By James Patrick Holding on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Hurtado has a more detailed version of this book, but since it costs around $55 (!!!) this short version may be better for your wallet. Hurtado makes detailed comparisons to Roman religious practice showing how Christianity did (and did not) fit in well with Roman praxis. Among the interesting trivia is that Christian rejection of the use of images and sacrificial ritual led some opponents to think Christianity was more like a philosophical association than a religious group [25]. Hurtado also explores in some depth the implications of Christian worship terminology and practice, and concludes with a chapter on the implications of his findings for Christian worship today. After reading this book, you may not recognize your next Sunday service.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Lawson on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
As noted by others, this is a readable abridgement of Hurtado's more extensive published materials related to early Christian worship. Central to Hurtado's work is an insightful assessment of the key role monotheism plays in the object of worship and the equally central role intimacy plays in the context of that worship. Although not rejecting Trinitarian understanding, his assertion that early Christian worship was "Binitarian" (the worship of God in and through Jesus Christ) is as revolutionary as it is historically accurate.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By matt on April 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
The great Harnack thought that were the historian of dogma to include within his bag of evidence the liturgy, he would be giving himself over to superstition outright. This book counters and corrects such a claim, which is also a premise in the works of the late Jaroslav Pelikan. Distinct from paganism by its monotheism, and distinct from Judaism with its binitarian (not ditheistic) devotion to Christ, Hurtado argues that the early, and limited, amount of liturgical evidence from the Christians offers an insight into the Christian understanding of God with an application to today's worship.

The whole question of who Jesus was thought to be by his followers and their immediate successors, and thus who we are to think he is, is tied directly not only to the scriptures of the old and new testaments, but to how they were written for and used in the Church's liturgical worship. Make no mistake about it, Christianity is a liturgical religion through and through, and without this hermeneutical principle in place, how we understand Christ will be skewed. To this extent Hurtado's work comes as a welcome read on the whole, since it places Christian worship in its true sitz im leben of Jewish, Roman and Greek religion and public life.

His summary of public and private worship during the late BCE and early CE is worth the cost of the book, fitting it all in the first 39 pages.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Nevermind VINE VOICE on November 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a short book, but, like everything written by Hurtado, is outstanding. Hurtado stresses from the outset that it is important to study the devotional practices of the early Christians because of what they reveal about Christian beliefs.

Christians saw themselves as monotheists even though they were also proclaiming Jesus as God. In fact, "There are basically two main identifying marks of early Christian worship, when considered in its religious context: 1) Christ is reverenced as divine along with God, and 2) worship of all other gods is rejected" (p 39).

Hurtado lists six phenomena of early Christian religious devotion which he contends amounted to a "pattern of devotion that was unparalleled among other known religious groups that identified themselves with the biblical/Jewish tradition" (p 71). It was a distinct mutation. Certainly no group identified with Jewish traditions called upon a man as equal to God the Father as did the Christians. The name of Jesus was invoked as God even in the initiation rite of Baptism.

A well thought out and impressive work of scholarship.
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