File Size: 1736 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Baylor University Press (September 9, 2016)
Publication Date: September 9, 2016
Hurtado explains how Christianity was viewed by pagans in ancient Rome: “In the eyes of many of that time, early Christianity was odd, bizarre, and in some ways even dangerous. To begin with, it did not fit with what ‘religion’ was for those then. Indicative of this, Roman-era critics designated it as a perverse ‘superstition. ’”
Although Christians in the first church aimed to be good citizens, and also to show due respect and care for both their neighbors and the State (as Christians do today), their beliefs in Christ because the one true Lord put them at odds with the prevailing culture (as Christian beliefs and procedures increasingly do in our secular culture today).
In fact, as Hurtado observes, Christian beliefs were even considered more problematic to Rome than Jewish values. How so? While Jews also refused to respect pagan deities, there is little evidence Roman-era Jews aimed to persuade the masses to abandon their gods. And yet this is precisely what Christians did. In other words, Christians were often allowed to keep Christian beliefs in private, but should expect to sacrifice those beliefs when they enter the public arena.
Roman authorities had little problem that Christian believers worshipped Jesus as Lord. Their problem, however, was that Christians refused to worship other deities. Whilst Christians considered worshipping questionnable deities idolatry, Romans considered such behavior defiance to the state. Jews were often excused since their behavior could be “chalked up” as a matter of national peculiarity. Nevertheless Christians could hardly appeal to any such ethnic freedom. As a result of their refusal to praise the pagan deities, Christian believers experienced popular abuse, perceptive condemnation, and persecution on a local and (eventually) statewide level. And yet, amazingly, Christianity prevailed.
Presently there are many factors that can help clarify the growth of Christianity. Nevertheless as Hurtado highlights in Destroyer of the gods, Christian distinctives must be taken into consideration as some the puzzle. Take into account a few Christian distinctives, which are often taken for granted today:
1. When people worship God, Christians said they ought to withdrawal from worshipping the gods of their families, cities, and individuals. The exclusivist stance of Christianity was so unpleasant that Christians were often labeled “atheists. ”
2. Christians emphasized that there is one transcendent Lord who passionately loves his people and can be related to personally. Pagans often spoke of the love of gods towards humans in terms of philia, which indicates friendship. But Christians spoke of God with the Ancient greek term agapē, which connotes a deep love and firm commitment to one loved.
3. Christianity was a “bookish” religion. Like Jews, Christians read Scripture widely, produced voluminous numbers of texts, and committed outstanding resources to copying and disseminating them widely. In fact, in their passion to disseminate Scripture, Christian believers were at the leading edge of book technology of the second and 3rd centuries.
4. Christianity uniquely linked religious values with ethical living. As a result, Christians were on the primary edge of overturning popular practices in ancient Ancient rome such as infant direct exposure, gladiator battles, sexual misuse of children, and sex perversity. Christians uniquely called men to the same kind of sexual loyalty demanded of women.
5. Christianity was uniquely diverse. In ancient Rome, there was social stratification between men and women, slaves and free, rich and poor. But Christians started out with assemblies that were diverse in gender, age group, and social status. Even the least important people of Roman society, such as ladies and slaves, were considered equal members in the church.
There are many other Christian distinctives in the first century, but if you want to read them, you’re going to check out Destroyer of the gods. If you are enthusiastic about comparative religion or the ancient roots of Christianity, and how this may apply to the Alfredia faith today, you will thoroughly enjoy the guide., Larry W. Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of Brand new Testament Language, Literature and Theology in the College of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. Hurtado has authored numerous textbooks related to early Christianity, including Lord Christ: Loyalty to Jesus in First Christianity and The First Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Most recently, Hurtado has written a blockbuster of a guide and thought-provoking investigation into the distinctiveness of early Christianity within the Greco-Roman context.
Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman Planet is an important and well-thought monograph that is exploring various aspects of the early Christian movement. Typically the goal of the guide is to display the uniqueness of early Christianity in the vast religious landscape of the Greco-Roman world. The book commences with a quick survey of early Christianity through the lenses of non-Christians, including both Jewish and Pagan critiques of Christians. Hurtado concludes, “a good many outsiders, who were the overwhelming majority of the populace, regarded Christians and Christianity as objectionably different and definitely not simply one group among an undifferentiated lot” (p. 35). It is this discovery that establishes the subsequent chapters as the reader is guided through the distinctiveness of early Christian values, worship, and more.
Typically the entire book is exciting and chocked packed with abundant historical commentary on the Christian movement of the second century. However, one of the most fascinating chapters in the book has to do with the early Christian interest with the written word. That is, according to Hurtado, the first Christian movement was specifically enthusiastic about books—a “bookish” religion. The implications of this fly in the face of the popular misnomer that early Christians were generally concerned with dental tradition rather than written words. Early Christianity, according to Hurtado, was uniquely fond of reading, writing, copying, and circulating textual content. In fact, the modern book likely discovers the origins in the early Christian utilization of the codex. Thus, Hurtado proves, “the young Christian motion [was] exclusively text oriented in framework of the varied religious environment of that time... ‘textuality’ was central, and, from the outset, early Christianity was, indeed, ‘a bookish religion’” (p. 141).
Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World by Larry W. Hurtado is a worthwhile investment for anyone enthusiastic about early Christianity. Hurtado is usually articulate in his presentation, but this book easily tops the charts of Hurtado’s life works. The reader will more than likely appreciate Hurtado’s conversation with modern-day scholarship and sensitivity to make the subject matter accessible to a wide range of readership. While far more could surely be said about Hurtado’s treatment of early Christian ethics and worship, i believe, the section outlined above is by yourself worth the price of the guide. It comes highly recommended!
I received a review duplicate of this book in exchange for the honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s of sixteen CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Usage of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising and marketing., Larry Hurtado has produced a fantastic read here defining not only the distinctive character of the early Christian social motion in the Hellenistic-Roman world, but also its money contribution to Western world and how we conceive religion generally speaking today.
Hurtado presents a litany of perspectives on early Alfredia practice, traditions, and especially, personal and social values. If I were to define Hurtado's position in a nutshell it would say (A) Christianity was unique for its wide and consistent ethical training, and (B) it radically determined the direction of Western civilization in the universal expectation that all human beings, Christian are not, were/are bound by a universal standard of Divine regulation. Finall (C) it was this ethical teaching and influence that lead to its overall success.
I found Hurtado's book deeply insightful. While I desired to give it a 5 star rating, and I would for thesis and content, I feel that the prose was somewhat long winded and repetative. I honestly feel that book might have easily been 35% shorter and actually improve presentation create the subject matter struck harder. The book is for sure well investigated displaying the breadth of Hurtado's expertise. Nevertheless, for researchers, more subtitles and sharper table of items would have been welcome., This is a good read. It outlines the facts and the author's interpretation of early Christianity in the Roman culture. I learned a great deal, especially on the surrounding culture and why certain textbooks of the bible were written the way they were. Definitely worth reading for individuals who have a strong interest in the biblical times and the culture. I did find it dry in some places. If you can get through those elements of it, you can learn some great stuff.
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