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Sad News From Larry Hurtado

Many readers on the blog will know of Larry Hurtado, a prominent New Testament scholar who has been influential as one of the most regular and reliable bloggers on issues of relevance to the study of early Christianity.   Larry has announced that he is very ill and will no longer be able to participate in either scholarship or the promotion of early Christians studies to a broader reading audience.  This is very sad, especially for us who know him.  (I will give his announcement about his illness and the prospects at the end of this post.)

I have known Larry for over thirty years.  He started out as a New Testament textual critic, with his first book a published version of his dissertation: Hurtado, Larry W. (1981). Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark. Studies and Documents. 43. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  It’s not something you will want to try to reading, unless you’re an expert on Greek and the Greek manuscript tradition of the NT.  Trust me.  But I used it when writing my dissertation four years later on a not-altogether dissimilar (and equally unreadable) topic.

I would venture to say that the book he is best known for was his next: (1988). One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.   This book is very much accessible to the non-expert and deals with an even more important topic: how Christ was worshiped as God very early in the Christian tradition by followers who nonetheless insisted there was only one God (and who believed Christ was not the same being as the Father).  This book was an intervention in the claims of others that the deity of Christ was a *later* development in the early Christian tradition.  Rather than simply look at doctrinal statements about Christ, Larry realized the solution to understanding how Christian views was to see how they *worshiped*.  If they worshiped Christ as God then, well, you can’t very well say they didn’t see him as God. Yet they remained monotheists.  How’d they do that?  Read the book and see!

Larry later wrote a more scholarly and far more sophisticated and much longer assessment of the same phenomenon, in many ways his magnum opus.  This is probably still accessible to lay folk, but it is very serious scholarship all the same and is not for the casual reader: (2003). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Larry never abandoned his passion for the study of early Christian manuscripts and very helpfully turned to the question of how the surviving texts of the New Testament can help us understand better the *social* history of Christianity at different periods.  This led to a book that possibly most readers of this blog would be particularly interested in: (2006). The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.    If you had to pick one of his books to read, I would say this is it.

Larry wrote a number of other books and articles, especially on another of his long-term interests, the Gospel of Mark.  You can get an idea of the oeuvre from the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Hurtado

I first met Larry when he was a professor of the University of Manitoba in Canada; he later moved to a senior position at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland; he retired eight years ago as a Professor Emeritus from there, but has remained active academically since.   But that appears now to be coming to an end.  Here is the post from several days ago in which he announces the health issues, to which he will now need to be devoting his attention, full time:

 

 

 

New post on Larry Hurtado’s Blog

 

Health Issues and Blogging

by larryhurtado

The leukemia (AML) for which I was treated here last summer has reactivated, after some 9 months of remission.  The further treatment options are quite limited, and may only be palliative care of various sorts.  In any case, I am now fully occupied with exploring various arrangements for the situation and aftermath of my death on my wife and others.  So, I shall have no time for blogging or my scholarly work.  Signing off unless further notice.  I hope that the archives on the site will continue to prove useful to interested readers.

larryhurtado | July 8, 2019 at 9:02 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/pYZXr-2ip

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    godspell  July 10, 2019

    Sad news indeed.

    Hurtado has been quoted to me in past by people who want to believe Jesus really was divine and born of a virgin (‘see how early people believed this!), but that’s hardly his fault. You put knowledge out there, and people do what they will with it.

    3
  2. Avatar
    rburos  July 10, 2019

    Just put two of his books on the Kindle. Prayers to him and his family.

  3. Avatar
    seahawk41  July 10, 2019

    How sad. AML is nasty stuff. My son’s first wife had it. She was diagnosed with it the day their daughter was born. She went through 3-1/2 years of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, and it still killed her.

  4. Avatar
    Hngerhman  July 10, 2019

    Very sad news indeed. May he and his be as well as possible in this incredibly difficult time. And may we all evince this level of stoicism when ultimately signing off.

  5. Avatar
    fishician  July 10, 2019

    Sorry to hear this, but as a scholar and an author his legacy will live on and continue to influence others. Not everyone can say that about their lives.

  6. Avatar
    mkahn1977  July 10, 2019

    Sad to hear… best wishes and hang tough!

    I’ve had an interest in his book Destroyer of the Gods… have you read this
    one?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 12, 2019

      Yup, and talked to him about it before it came out. Weird how many similar interests we have had.

      1
  7. Avatar
    Ask21771  July 10, 2019

    Do we know where the stories in the four gospels come from

  8. JulieGraff
    JulieGraff  July 10, 2019

    Hi Mr. Ehrman,

    It is particularily in these moments that I would like to share with you the thoughts of our works in past lives, in this one, and moving forward…

    I have sent you pictures of some of us “scholars” in past lives, and now…

    The goal, when you are aware of the bigger picture has nothing to do with recognition, fame, life work, or anything like that…

    I remember a teaching about ya, right, saying that “being rich means nothing” can only be said by someone that has been rich… well, I can say I was part of the “Elite” in the past of life’s work… and it means nothing…

    What is real, the big deal, is our Relationships, the Work on our Soul, and our Relationship with G.od… now, and for ever!

    1
    • JulieGraff
      JulieGraff  July 12, 2019

      As a side note: I do not mind people who do not agree, but just putting a” thumbs down” on an intellectual blog like this one to me is like someone pooping on the sidewalk…

      Let’s talk! 😉

      • Bart
        Bart  July 14, 2019

        I’m not sure about what you mean about a “thumbs down”? Do you mean that I didn’t write a response? I normally don’t respond unless I’ve been asked a question about something we’ve been talking about. But if you have a question I’d be happy to address it, so long as it relates to the blog.

        • JulieGraff
          JulieGraff  July 14, 2019

          Thank you Mr. Ehrman.

          I understand that you cannot answer every post, I did not mean you not answering.

          I ment people who read on and just put a literal “thumbs down” when day do not like or agree.

          To me doing that on an intellectual blog like this one it feels like people walking or reading along and leaving poops along the way. If they do no like or agree about something I believe it would be much more constructive to speek up about it, then we could maybe understand each others point of view.

          Btw in some way I do believe that you have answered this post in a proper way for the blog with your post about the book of James, talking about Faith vs Deeds! 😉

          I would like to specify that for me deeds are related to the “work on our soul” I mentionned and are highly related to our faith.

          For example, what you are doing with the charities to me are deeds related to your soul at work. I do not believe you are doing that with the intent of a career or lifes work or legacy!

          People are so anxious since the creation of careers… what should they work on, what is there life’s work, what will be there lecacy!!! (*read here the fault of the Golden Calf) … Many do not understand the difference between soul work or life work.

          Yes faith without action is dead… That is why I so like to study the Torah with a good Rav, because the teachings are ment to help us in our day to day actions (not just to enjoy them seating on a cloud) … and those actions are ment to be related to our soul work!

          • Bart
            Bart  July 15, 2019

            Ah sorry — someone else has told me that readers of teh blog do thumbs up and thumbs down — those never come to me when I’m responding to comments! Sorry, I misunderstood.

  9. Avatar
    forthfading  July 10, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Do you feel Dr. Hurtado’s personal faith colored his scholarship in any negative way? Negative meaning that it hindered reaching conclusions that the evidence was pointing towards.

    Thanks, Jay

    • Bart
      Bart  July 12, 2019

      You know, even though we were colleagues for over thirty years, we never had a discussion about our personal beliefs. So I don’t really know.

      5
  10. Avatar
    Ruven  July 11, 2019

    First off, all the best to Dr Hurtado. Hopefully he’ll be doing better again soon, and taking a bit off his workload helps.
    Secondly, I have a question. It isn’t related to any recent post, but it has been kicking around my head for a while, andI just have to get it out of my system:
    How come Christians are called Christians? The words Christ and Messiah refer to a political leader that is supposed to be, if I understand it correctly, very political and judeocentric, not, as Jesus is seen now, very spiritual and something for all of mankind. Wouldn’t the term Christians better fit Messianic Jews? When did Christians first start calling themselves Christians? Were they ever called something else, either by themselves or by someone else? Do we know when the term Christians started to be used?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 12, 2019

      The term was first used by outsiders for “followers of Christ” (already in the book of Acts and 1 Peter in the NT). Or comparable to something like “those who belong to Christ” (like, say, “Philadelphians”)

      1
  11. Avatar
    Pattylt  July 11, 2019

    A sad announcement, indeed. I have great respect for his scholarship and his blog. I shall hope for recovery but if not possible, for a painless peace.

  12. galah
    galah  July 13, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman, I know that Christians, at some point in history, began to worship Jesus as God. But, is there any record of this in the New Testament? Did any NT author encourage believers to worship Jesus as God, or did they encourage them to worship God in the name of Jesus?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 14, 2019

      Yes, you need to read Larry’s book! But it’s a complicated issue, not the sort of thing where you can point to a particular verse and say “this settles it” once and for all! But, e.g., read the book of Revelation (even just the first few chapters>)

      • galah
        galah  July 14, 2019

        Thanks for the advice. I purchased a Kindle edition. I was debating whether or not I wanted to try it so you just sealed the deal.

  13. Avatar
    dicooley  July 20, 2019

    For those interested, a helpful discussion of Destroyer of The Gods with the author can be found at Trinities Org, podcasts 149 and 150. You can also find Bart there(discussing different topics).

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