Homage to the Historical Jesus
and Early Christian Devotion
In previous publications, I have spent a good deal of effort on historical inquiry into the devotional practice of earliest Christianity, focusing on the “binitarian” shape of earliest Christian devotion in which Jesus figures with God as recipient of worship.1 Joining in a line of researchers that goes back to the early religionsgeschichtliche Schule (history of religions school), I have focused on questions about the nature and origins of Christian devotion in the first two centuries after Jesus (although, with a number of more recent scholars, I have been led to revise heavily the influential analysis that emerged from the religionsgeschichtliche Schule).2 In this chapter, I
1. Most recently, Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest
Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003). Among my relevant previous publications,
see esp. “The Binitarian Shape of Early Christian Worship,” in The Jewish Roots of
Christological Monotheism, ed. C. C. Newman, J. R. Davila, and G. S. Lewis, JSJSup 63
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999), 187–213; At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and
Character of Earliest Christian Devotion (Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster Press, 1999; Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), esp. 63–97; and One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and
Ancient Jewish Monotheism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988; 2d ed., Edinburgh: T&T
Clark, 1998). In the following paragraphs I summarize results presented and defended
more fully in these publications.
2. The classic expression of the religionsgeschichtliche Schule on devotion to Jesus was,
of course, Wilhelm Bousset's influential volume Kyrios Christos: Geschichte des Christus-
glaubens von den Anfängen des Christentums bis Irenaeus, FRLANT, 4 (Göttingen: Vanden-
This chapter is a slightly edited version of my essay that appeared in Journal for the Study of
the Historical Jesus 1.2 (2003): 131–46. Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd.
Thanks to the editor and publisher for permission to republish the essay here.