In this final chapter we focus on expressions of devotion to Jesus that are particularly characteristic of proto-orthodox circles.1 These phenomena manifest the version of Christianity that was already dominant by the latter half of the second century, and out of which the classical "orthodox" Christian tradition developed.
I emphasize again, however, that second-century proto-orthodox Christianity was not a monolithic entity, but instead comprised an interesting variety in expressions and practices. Also, although there are lines of development and continuity between the two, proto-orthodoxy does not equate with the fully developed orthodoxy of the fourth century and thereafter, with its fixed creeds, established hierarchy, and coercive power to suppress "heresy." In the period we are considering (ca. 70-170), emergent proto-orthodox Christianity is recognized in simpler and more flexible terms that I proposed earlier and reiterate here: a high regard for traditions coupled with a critical suspicion of radical innovations, an exclusivist monotheistic commitment to the Old Testament and its deity, a readiness to accommodate a certain critical diversity.
Proto-orthodox devotion to Jesus honored him as divine within an exclusivist monotheistic stance derived (and adapted) from the biblical/Jewish tradition. This, in particular, is what made the effort to articulate Jesus' divine status so demanding; it largely explains the lengthy and complicated nature of christological debates among Christians in proto-orthodox circles in the first
1. In addition to works cited previously, V. A. Spence Little, The Christology of the Apolo-
gists (London: Duckworth, 1934), is an infrequently cited but valuable study that in fact ranges
beyond the second-century writers usually thought of as "the apologists," although it focuses
entirely on their doctrines and says little about religious practice.