Friday, September 22, 2006


Well, I'm going on holiday from now until the 1st of Oct. It'll be a great time to catch up on some necessary reading, planning my BIG DAY, and just chilling out in the surf.

I have much work to do on James and am enjoying applying Hurtado's grid to this letter. Whether or not it will yield fresh insights or merely suggest that James' vision of devotion to Jesus is akin to Paul's, is another question which only time [and critical evaluation by peers] will tell.

So to those still slogging away, give it your best but don't over do it. You may love work as much as you like, but it will never love you back. So don't forsake your family or friends.

I'm off to the beach, it's a sunny day, no cloud in the sky and it appears the Almighty has provided a stunning set coming through with a slight off-shore wind.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

There where other kingdoms. There was the kingdom of Herod, the kingdom of Caesar. Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is what life on earth would be like if God were king, and those other guys weren’t.”[1]

[1] Marcus Borg, from NBC Dateline and Jesus with Borg, Crossan, Evans and more...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quote of the Day

John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, DePaul University:
"The Kingdom of God is picking the one term that will make the Romans listen. They considered themselves the Kingdom of God. Theirs was the power and the glory, 25 legions or so, too. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God, he is saying as clearly as is possible in the 1st Century, ‘In your face, Caesar.’"
From the interesting NBC Dateline and Jesus with Borg, Crossan, Evans and more...

Wright article

It's a neat snippet from his celebrated intro to Christianity: Simply Christian. I read it a while back and absolutely loved it. Very helpful, concise and clear. A great resource for those "Just looking." James W. Sire reviews Simply Christian in his article: Echoes and Voices From Beyond.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OT in the NT

Anyone read Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament? The usual heavey hitters are all there, Porter, Evans, Köstenberger and more. I'm not just interested in it because of the article by Kurt Anders Richardson, on Job as Exemplar in the Epistle of James. I'm very interested in the whole subject, especially with regards to the Gospels and Acts.
Thoughts, comments, criticisms?
Let them be known now, before I take the plunge...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Devotion to Jesus in James

Larry Hurtado has done a tremendous amount of ground-breaking research into devotion directed towards Jesus of Nazareth.[1] Hurtado defines ‘devotion’ as: “beliefs and related religious actions that constituted the expressions of religious reverence of early Christians.”[2]
Exclusivist monotheism is the crucial religious context in which to view Christ-devotion in early Christianity, and was a major force shaping what Christ-devotion looked like, but monotheism hardly explains why devotion to Jesus emerged. What was the impetus? There are really two questions involved. (1) Why was there such a focus on, and thematizing of, this particular figure, Jesus? (2) Why did Christ-devotion assume the proportions it did in early Christianity, i.e., amounting to a new binitarian devotional pattern unprecedented in Jewish monotheism?[3]
At an astonishingly early point, in at least some Christian groups, there is a clear and programmatic inclusion of Jesus in their devotional life, both in honorific claims and in devotional practices. In addition, Jesus functioned in their ethical ideals and demands, in both interpersonal and wider social spheres.[4]
Based on this, I wish to suggest that the scattered Jewish-Christian communities, to which James writes, represents communities that were devoted to Jesus. More so, I wish to suggest that James is an exhortation to Jewish-Christians to intensify their devotion to Jesus by embracing and implementing the teachings of Jesus, which James viewed as authoritative for communal praxis and thus honouring to God.
Although having surveyed the epistle of James in an article on “Christology” in the Dictionary of Later New Testament and its Developments, Hurtado has not [to my knowledge] applied his insights to the letter of James regarding early Christian devotion to Jesus. This appears to be a depressing lacuna in Hurtado’s research, since I hope to show that James is an important piece of evidence when studying devotion to Jesus in early Christianity.[5] Hurtado lists six specific practices that constitute a novel and remarkable pattern of devotion to Jesus that is seen across the spectrum of our earliest sources.
    1. Hymns about Jesus sung as part of early Christian worship;
    2. Prayer to God “through” Jesus and “in Jesus’ name,” and even direct prayer to Jesus himself, including particularly the invocation of Jesus in the corporate worship setting;
    3. “Calling upon the name of Jesus,” particularly in Christian baptism and in healing and exorcism;
    4. The Christian common meal enacted as a sacred meal where the risen Jesus presides as “Lord” of the gathered community;
    5. The practice of ritually “confessing” Jesus in the context of Christian worship; and
    6. Christian prophecy as oracles of the risen Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of prophecy understood as also the Spirit of Jesus.[6]

In future posts, I'd like to explore some of these facets in James. What do you think?

[1] Studies devoted to this topic by Hurtado include, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Eerdmans, 2003); How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? (Eerdmans, 2005); One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Judaism (Fortress, 1988) and At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion (Paternoster, 1999)

[2] Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 3

[3] Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 53

[4] Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 4. Italics original.

[5] I find it annoying that James is so often neglected in NT research. Many books claiming to be thematically based on the writings of the NT, flatly ignore James. In a book devoted to the ethics of the NT, Richard Hays [The Moral Vision of the New Testament] offers a mere four references to James! Hurtado’s magisterial study offers a mere three references to James, and fails to interact significantly with this important document. Could this be evidence that Luther has infected modern scholarship to such a degree that many simply ignore James as a second-rate document?

[6] Hurtado, How on Earth did Jesus Become a God?, pg. 28. See also Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship, pg. 74-94