The Origins Of Jesus-Devotion: A Response To Crispin Fletcher-Louis -- By: L. W. Hurtado

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 61:1 (NA 2010)
Article: The Origins Of Jesus-Devotion: A Response To Crispin Fletcher-Louis
Author: L. W. Hurtado

The Origins Of Jesus-Devotion:
A Response To Crispin Fletcher-Louis

L. W. Hurtado


The critique of my work on Jesus-devotion by Dr. Fletcher-Louis (in a previous issue of this journal) combines an essentially correct brief summary of some broad contours of my views and a few interesting points for further discussion; but, unfortunately, the main criticisms are often directed against over-simplified or exaggerated portrayals of my views, and also involve at least one serious red herring. In this brief response, therefore, I try to correct and clarify some key matters in the hope of promoting a more productive discussion of the remarkable devotion to Jesus that characterised earliest Christianity.

1. Introduction

Scholars obviously hope that others will notice and engage their published work, and so I take some encouragement from the appearance of the recent forty-five page critical review of my studies of early Jesus-devotion by Dr Crispin Fletcher-Louis.1 In justification of his rather extensive essay, he opines that my work ‘needs more careful critical consideration than it has so far received’, judging that most reviews have been ‘superficial and have missed its real problems’. Though I welcome further discussion of matters, I have to say that I find this a strange judgement about scholarly engagement with my studies heretofore. For example, I am aware of well over sixty reviews

of my 2003 book, Lord Jesus Christ, by scholars around the world and in a variety of specialities, most of them appreciative, a few pointedly negative, and several making valid observations that have spurred me to further reflection and analysis.2 Moreover, I was invited to formal colloquia in which this book was the focus of probing critical analysis by various scholars in Indiana (Concordia Seminary, 2005), Berlin (Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Theologie: NT-Projectgruppentagung, 2005), and Salamanca (Universidad Pontificia, 2005).3 My other books have also received quite serious attention from capable scholars, and sometimes critical comments. So I hardly feel that I have been given an ‘easy ride’!4 Nevertheless, of course I welcome the continuing interest in my work and, more importantly, the shared interest in early Jesus-devotion reflected in Fletcher-Louis’ essay.

He describes his purpose as ‘an appreciative critique’ of my work, and the first several pages ...

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