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Larry W. Hurtado

At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion

This is a short book, but, like everything written by Larry W. 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.

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