Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Figures who have impacted my journey: Larry Hurtado

Some notes:

- Book chapter is out! Check it out here. Almost works as a standalone paper.

- Quote from James McGrath review of Ehrman's most recent book:  Accurate memory is preserved, even in the process of distorting or reinterpreting it. And so it is frustrating when Ehrman discusses the work of famous form critics such as Bultmann and Dibelius but talks only about the fabrication of memories to meet the needs of churches in the pregospels period, to the neglect of the more interesting question of how the needs of those churches might have led to the reinterpretation of things the early Christians remembered about what Jesus said and did that were not pure fabrication (64–65). Some will suspect that Ehrman is still influenced here by his fundamentalist background, which tends to think of matters of authenticity or historicity in an all-or-nothing manner.

By the way, apologies to McGrath for probably mispronouncing his name!
- John's gospel criticism, please don't misunderstand me on the Jesus is/is not God thing!
- Dr. Hurtado's blog:
- Dr. Hurtado's interviews on Trinities hereherehere and here
- Dr. Hurtado's personal recommendation to my series on his post here
- Tetragram/tetragrammaton , relief from trinity work. First contact. Explain the project *dormant*
- My "gleanings" from my first response series (first series summary here) to Lord Jesus Christ
- Key terms: programmatic inclusion alongside. Binitarian.
- Question of centrality (see my post on Hurtado's opening words here)
- mutation proponent, and "unsuccessful mutations"
- methodology
- Jesus as LORD/Lord.... more on that next time!


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  2. Hello John,

    "those churches might have led to the reinterpretation of things the early Christians remembered about what Jesus said and did that were not pure fabrication (64–65)."

    Can you please tell me why was there a need for "reinterpretation"?

    1. Hi Shaad. You might be taking issue with McGrath's usage of the word "reinterpretation". I'm not sure the "re" is entirely necessary here but it's not out of place either in my view. However, this post is not about McGrath's or even Ehrman's influence on my perspective. Thanks, John

    2. Hello John,

      I think i posted my comment two times by mistake, sorry about that. Well i don't have any issue with his usage of the word because when i think carefully about it, it does make sense considering the history of the pre-gospels period...

  3. But i do think the "re" isn't needed...

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  5. Hi John,

    These podcasts are super interesting, I'm just commenting on the *only* minor detail on which I have slight disagreements, so don't see the below as negative!

    At around 32'-34' you argue that from a historical perspective we can say that, conceptually speaking, greatness equates centrality. Therefore, these non-nicene creeds both affirming the subordination of the Son and the 'preservation of the trinity' were trapped in a paradox (which played a role in the following developments).

    I've been thinking about this point over and over again these past few weeks and I still don't buy it.

    First, is it just conjectures or do you have actual objective data to back these hypotheses?

    a) About the notion that 'centricity' would have been, in practice, synonymous with 'greatness'
    b) On the idea that there was a 'tension' or a 'paradox' in the mind of these non-nicene bishops

    I don't quite understand what compels you to affirm that, we don't find Eusebius or any of the previous subordinationists being either troubled by these two facts or promoting a deficient triadic faith/practices. Historically, I don't see how we can defend this. For a very long time, they were perfectly happy to affirm this greatness-talk while at the same time keeping Jesus at the very center of their devotion. Would you say that for the subordinationists of the 2-3rd century like Justin, Tertullian or Origen, Jesus was *less* central then? Why would this centricity of F-S-S be suddenly antithetical with the existence of a hierarchy within the divine triad?

    The narrative I have in mind is much more straighforward:
    After the initial Arian controversy and Nicea, the pro-nicene party began to see *any* talk of subordination (and the unwillingness to use ontological categories) as dangerous, as a slippery slope towards a 'creaturization' of Jesus that would inevitably lead back to Arianism (and thus disrupt the triadic faith+practices). Intrinsically, the homoeans view was not *more* unstable or paradoxical than the opposite position, it's just that it didn't enjoy the support of the right emperor at the right time. The obliteration of subordination-talk and the blurring of lines then eventually led to the Trinity of post-381, with the help of some semantic confusions.

    What do you think?

    Jonathan B.

    1. Hi Jonathan thank you for your excellent questions. I shall have a go at answering during the next FatScript podcast episode on Wednesday, which will feature this audio.

    2. for a start...

  6. Thanks so much, I missed this, sorry! I'll listen to this in the week.


  7. Finally had the time to listen to the podcast.
    Many thanks for the kind words and for reading my comment in the podcast, I'm honored!

    In your clarification at around 51', you note that the paradox wasn't conscious in the mind of these men, they weren't individually troubled by their own tensions. However, the church *as a whole*, considered as an organic entity, did see the conundrum.

    My problem with this analysis is that the advent and triumph of trinitarianism cannot be characterized as the organic achievement of 'the church as a whole' after a time of peaceful introspection, but as an arbitrary victory by imperial decrees of one faction over the others. Politics is the reason why it prevailed, it is not the natural result of careful deliberation by the church collectively. It is very easy to imagine an Empire in which the orthodoxy would have been a form of Eusebian theology.

    Jonathan B.


Thanks very much for your feedback, really appreciate the interaction.