Creating Jesus: To Chalcedon?

Pastor Bob has asked me to take us to Chalcedon in terms of christology. I can certainly do this...but I don't want to bore my readers with the same subject for an extended period of time. I can cover all the controversies to Nicaea, Nicaea, and its fallout, but only if this is something that will interest you.

As for James McGrath's post today, arguing for a possession christology in John. I do not find these arguments convincing. There is no prophetic tradition from Judaism in which the prophet is ever God. No prophet would ever claim "I AM" for himself or "I and the Father are one." Now the Kavod and Angel of the Lord traditions do help to explain this, as they also help to explain the distinction that Jesus is the son and a mediator figure (which I have explained in earlier posts in this series). But prophet traditions do not. The spirit in prophetic tradition is always a temporary possession of a full human being and never makes the possessed God himself.

This is not to say that prophetic traditions have not influenced early strata of Johannine traditions. They have, particularly Samaritan understandings of the Prophet-like-Moses. But these traditions have been reconfigured within a Hellenistic model of anthropology in which the Logos descends into flesh. The language is not language of descent into a full human being, into a "man", but of the descent of God's Reason into flesh. This is ensoulment language not possession language.

Perhaps it would be helpful to know that in Hellenistic philosophy, particularly that influenced by Plato, God was conceived as The Good and The One. When he thinks (which is all he can do) he is Mind-Logos within which exists all thoughts and patterns for the universe. Plato perceived these to be "forms." Some of the first Christians thought of them as little logoi. Origen, in fact, says that these little logoi became our souls when their love for God began to cool off and they fell down into matter and became psyches. Only one little logos remained completely attached to God and this is what Origen thought became Jesus' soul.

Creating Jesus 17: A divine fetus

When the early Christian Jews concluded that the appearances of the YHWH Angel prior to Jesus' birth must also have been Jesus somehow, this gave Jesus a pre-existence and it shifted the paradigm. No longer was he a normal human being born of normal human parents. Somehow this great Angel had been embodied either at Jesus' conception or his quickening. In other words, a human fetus was possessed by this Angel, rather than a human man at his baptism. The Christians shifted his possession to the earliest moment possible. The idea that an angel can possess a human being is possible because the ancient people understood "spirits" and "angels" to be equivalents. This is also the case with the word "powers." The angel was a spirit who like a demon could possess a human being.

The virgin birth stories are related to this shift. The story of womb-possession is very prominent in Luke's gospel, which parallels John the Baptist's conception with Jesus'. John the Baptist was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). Jesus' conception is understood similarly, as the Holy Spirit, the Power of the Most High, coming upon Mary so that her child would be the holy Son of God. Keep in mind that angels are sons of God. And prophets are called and consecrated (which means a descent of the Holy Spirit into them!) from before they came into the womb of their mothers (see Jer 1:5; Isa 49:1; cf. Gal 1:15).

In Matthew, the relationship of Jesus to the Holy Spirit is framed in terms of agency. Mary is found "having [a fetus] in her womb FROM the Holy Spirit" (1:18). This is another shift in this christological pattern. It moves the concept of a divine fetus to divine parentage rather than spirit possession. This shift may have been popular with Hellenistic audiences familiar with stories of gods siring heroes.

I think it is significant that since these two authors think that the embodiment of the Spirit happened to the fetus in the womb, both Matthew and Luke independently shift the Markan baptism account of possession of the Spirit "in" Jesus (eis: Mark 1:10) to "upon" him (epi: Matt 3:16; Luke 3:22). Since he has had the Spirit in him since the womb, the baptism is reconceived as an outward anointing of the Spirit.

Next post we will look at Justin Martyr who preserves this paradigm in its entirety.

Creating Jesus 14: Jerusalem soteriology

When you have a possession christology in which Jesus is a full human being with human parents, who is a righteous man filled by God with the Holy Spirit, so righteous that he is resurrected from the dead and exalted to the Name Above All Names, the way salvation works for everyone else corresponds. So texts with associations with early Jerusalem understand the path of salvation in a very particular way, a way that I can only describe as "imitative." Since Jesus started out as a human being like everyone else, that meant other human beings could imitate him and receive the same rewards.

This is the earliest soteriological teaching I have been able to reconstruct from the literature:
1. baptism by invoking the Name which cleansed the initiate of past sins so that his or her soul could receive the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had at his baptism. Anointing to receive the Holy Spirit appears to have been a later addition to the ceremony (cf. Acts 8:14-17).

2. righteous living in imitation of Jesus and putting into action his teachings about Torah. The Holy Spirit aided the person to meet this end. There was no penance for post-baptismal sin, no way to atone for it. Your goal was to perfect yourself with the help of the Holy Spirit (the same spirit that had been Jesus' - thus the language of Christ's spirit in Paul) who indwelled you (cf. Matt 5:48; James 1:4; Didache 1-6; Barn 18-21). This path of piety was faith. Faith wasn't belief. It was living your life in accordance with God's will which had been communicated through Jesus.

3. eucharist was a thanksgiving meal, a joyous party, celebrating the imminent return of Jesus as the Judge, and anticipating being part of the banquet that would take place at that time. The meal may have had a covenantal aspect where the Christian Jews affirmed that they were the New Israel through the death of the Righteous One, Jesus (1 Cor 11:25-26; Luke 22:14-18).

4. at death or the eschaton, whichever occurred first, the faithful would be resurrected and rewarded in heaven with glorified bodies and exaltation (i.e. thrones, crowns, white robes, Name, etc).

Creating Jesus 12: The Glory of the Lord

Jesus was not conceived to be exalted to the status of any angel of any rank. He was conceived to be the Angel of the Lord who bore the Name YHWH. This conception did not stand alone. The YHWH Angel was read alongside the GLORY by the early Jews and Christians. There are a number of passages in Jewish scriptures which describe YHWH as a bodily manifested god. His manifestation is called in Hebrew "the KAVOD of YHWH" which literally means "the weightiness of YHWH." It was translated by the ancients into Greek with the word "DOKSA" which means "reputation, honor, glory." When it refers to one's external appearance, it means that it is a splendid or glorious appearance. In English it is translated "GLORY." This figure is described by Ezekiel as humanlike, radiant, and enthroned. It acts as YHWH, and he interacts with it as YHWH. This manifestation of YHWH, the KAVOD, is also called in the literature the "IMAGE" of God and the "FORM" of God.

Of course those of my readers who know the Christian literature will realize that this application to Jesus was made very early in the tradition. He has the NAME of YHWH, he is the FORM of YHWH, he is the IMAGE of YHWH, he is the GLORY of YHWH. He has not only been identified with the ANGEL YHWH, but also the KAVOD, identified with the seated figure in Ezekiel's vision and the YHWH of HOSTS seen by ISAIAH.

As I said in my last post on the subject, this is the key to understanding the development of early Christology. Once the identification was made between Jesus, the YHWH Angel, and the KAVOD, there was no turning back. The Christian Jews had begun to understand Jesus as equivalent with YHWH.

As far as worship, it appears that our earliest sources tell us that they were calling upon Jesus' NAME in intercessory ways, including healings. Now there is ample (and I mean ample) evidence in Jewish literature and magical objects from the period that show that there were Jews who were calling upon angels to intercede for them and to facilitate healings. The magical evidence from amulets and gems shows that the use of the angels' names were considered to be very powerful indeed.

Many scholars in the past have tried to explain away this evidence and to impose modern rabbinic and christian orthodoxy on the past in order to state that the Jews were not really venerating angels or practicising angel intercession because we all know they were monotheists. This is anachronistic and apologetic. The evidence both in the literature and the physical objects matches. The late second century rabbis generally disapproved and tried to stamp it out and write down their oral traditions in such a way that their ancestors would appear to be monotheists. But what the rabbis were doing was creating monotheism themselves, perhaps in response to the rise of Christianity from the Jewish sources, and I might add, the rise of Gnostic systems from these same sources which also relied upon the YHWH Angel and KAVOD traditions to develop the Demiurge.

In my opinion, the academic discussion is usually backwards. The discussion should not be how monotheistic Jews could or couldn't have worshiped Jesus.

The discussion should be along these lines: what must Judaism have looked like at the time of Jesus to allow his Jewish followers to conceive of him as YHWH and begin praying to him and using his NAME for intercession?

The impulse to divinize Jesus was an impulse within Judaism, and the later Rabbis knew this and reworked the traditions to try to shut it down and create a post-temple Judaism, which was a revival of the type of Judaism embraced by the group of post-exilic priests who put together the pentateuch and tried to rewrite their old polytheistic ancestral traditions along monotheistic lines. It didn't work in post-exilic Judaism mainly because the YHWH Angel and KAVOD traditions survived, allowing for exegetical interpretations to develop in which GOD remains hidden while he operates through his manifestation, his equivalent enthroned in heaven.

Creating Jesus 3: we must say "no" to the miraculous

There is always a negative reaction to any serious discussion of miracles that I have in the classroom (virtual or real). The gut reaction that people have is: who is to tell me that miracles don't happen or couldn't have happened. And behind this lurks the claim that God can do anything God wants to do. Let's unpack this even though it makes people so uncomfortable (and as a warning, there will probably be a lot of things I am going to say in this long series of posts that will make for discomfort).

The claim to the miraculous is not the same as the claim to the unexplainable. Something might happen to me that I can't explain (in fact things happen to me quite often that I don't have a ready explanation for), but it doesn't become a miracle until I make it a miracle, a manifestation of the supernatural, by my interpretation of the event.

This is a very important distinction to make. Humans experience events all the time that have no ready explanation for them. But it is only our move to


those events as "miracles" and then as "religious miracles" and then as "religious miracles of a particular religious kind" that make the event supernatural and grant it miraculous meaning.

This is why I emphasized in so many of my ground rules that our sources are humanly-authored and reflect human experience and very particular interpretations of those experiences. We are NOT to assume what is said by these authors is what actually happened, could have happened, might have happened, or should have happened. Our sources are records of how the Christians came to understand their experiences and frame them religiously and yes, miraculously, in very very particular and even peculiar ways.

Traditional Greek Icon: Jesus Walks on Water

Let's take the example of Jesus walking on water. What are reasoned (or critical) explanations for the story?

1. The Christians made it up whole cloth to make a theological statement about Jesus: that what he could do was so miraculous that he could walk on water which no normal human being could do. This proves his divinity. Only gods walk on water.
2. There was an event that was remembered and interpreted as miraculous. This sort of miraculous embellishment happens all the time in storytelling. Need I remind us of a very recent event in which Eilan Gonzalez, the five-year old boy who survived a sea journey from Cuba on a homemade raft, became "The Miracle Child" over the course of a couple of days. His story became a story about dolphins protecting him from sharks so that he was in perfect condition when he got to Florida (they forgot to mention that his mom had wrapped him in her coat, tied him to an inner tube and gave him a bottle of water which allowed him to survive the elements). Then the Santerian priests began to embellish the "miracle" by saying that Eilan had been saved by "angels at sea." Although this is a religious miraculous interpretation, apparently it had developed from the five-year old's "eyewitness" testimony that he thought an angel kept him company at night. Finally his story was keyed to Catholic interpretation: Castro became Herod, Clinton became Pilot, and Elian became the Messiah. This is an example of a modern miracle during an age when we can document what actually happened and interview the eyewitnesses. I hope you can see from this the problems with eyewitness testimony even a few days after the event.

If the story of Jesus walking on water was completely fabricated or had its roots in some historical event, we can never know. We can conjecture all we want about a terrible storm in which Jesus and his disciples were caught on a boat and Peter almost drowned and Jesus was able to rescue him against all odds, but the fact remains that Jesus' walk on water is an interpretation that makes it a miracle. The miracle is framed in such a way that Jesus does something a normal human can't do. This works to prove to the audience that Jesus is a god.

So the ground rule remains the same: we must say "no" to the miraculous as history. The move to the miraculous is interpretative and theological. So while miracles might interest us as historians because they will tell us a lot about how Jesus was interpreted by the early Christians, they are not historical events - not in Christianity, not in Judaism, not in Islam, not in Buddhism, not in Hinduism, not in any religion.

Creating Jesus: How Jesus Became God (1)

Several people have been e-mailing me following my lecture on Jesus the Jew and the Jewish beginnings of Christianity at the Museum of Natural Science. The question they want answered is how this rabbi became God in the Christian communities.

This has always been the central question to studies of Christology and there have been many scholarly models which have varying amounts of success taking into account the vast amount of written evidence. What is certain is that Jesus was not being worshiped as a god by his disciples during his life. This came later after his death. The question is how long it took to happen, and how it happened that a "monotheistic" Jewish sect took on the worship of a second god.

I have worked out my own model and published the bones of it in a piece called, "How We Talk about Christology Matters," in Israel's God and Rebecca's Children. But I have decided to run a series of posts on the subject following Easter, the day of the resurrection. We will explore many items here, without Christian apology, to determine from the written evidence what likely happened all those years ago.

I want to begin by ditching the language of Christology that we have used in the past, particularly the "high" and "low" narrative. This is apologetic language developed out of Protestant seminaries that places judgment on the Christological narratives of the early Christians. If a Christian text says that Jesus had human parents and was a prophet, it is said to be "low" Christology and "adoptionist" because God adopted Jesus as his son. If a Christian text says that Jesus was of virgin birth and was the Son of God, it is said to be "high" Christology and "incarnational".

This language locks us in a paradigm of development from "low" (which must be earlier) and "high" (which must be later). It locks us into a view that "high" Christology is preferable to "low" Christology (a contemporary church view for certain!). And it breaks down once we get a text that says that Jesus was born of human parents but was worshiped as God (a branch of Ebionites), or that Jesus was a created being (a super-angel) and yet was worshiped as God (Arius), or a number of other known cases. Even Paul (whose letters make up our earliest testimonies) is hard to discuss within these categories, so we practically have to bend over backwards to "make" his testimonies "fit" our pre-conceived paradigms.

So it is time to get rid of the old language and paradigms, and put something new in place, something that we grow out of the evidence, without apology for Christian theology which has its own agendas. It is this new paradigm that I intend to blog about.

Next time: what made the first Nazoreans, the first Christian Jews, christologize in the first place?

The Name of the Lord and its significance

In the last post, a question was raised that I would like to address:
This isn't about the election. I've just been enjoying your ORIGINAL GOSPEL OF THOMAS IN TRANSLATION. As someone who got interested in the Jerusalem Church, James, and offshoots of that community while taking a course on the gospels at Davidson College years ago, it's interesting and good to see the Thomas material less thru the Gnostic frame and more as what it is/was. I've always been curious as to at what point early believers started to think of Jesus as God or equate him with God, so the material relating to the NAME Angel was especially interesting because out of all of the material, it was completely new to me. Would you, perhaps, point me to some additional articles and/or early texts where the NAME Angel theology is expressed or implied. If so, I'd be very grateful.


William Madden, Instructor
Dept. of Humanities
Georgia Perimeter College
Atlanta GA
The classic comprehensive study is Jarl Fossum, The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord (Tübingen, 1985). This is the book of my own teacher, from whom I learned these ideas. I apply them to everything I do, but I wrote a piece recently in which I tried to incorporate them into my discussion of the origin and development of Christology. This article is April DeConick, "How we talk about Christology matters," in David Capes, April DeConick, Helen Bond and Troy Miller (eds.), Israel's God and Rebecca's Children (Waco, 2007) pp. 1-24. One of Fossum's other students, Charles Gieschen, has written significant pieces on the subject. The most accessible is an overview article published in my favorite early Christian studies journal, which I highly recommend: Charles Gieschen, "The Divine Name in Ante-Nicene Christology," Vigiliae Christianae 57 (2003) pp. 115-158. See also Gieschen's book, Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence (Leiden, 1998). Enjoy!

Apocryphote of the Day: 10-16-08

In light of our discussion, I offer the opinion of two very different second century church fathers for today's Apocryphote:
I shall endeavour to persuade you that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because he announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things, above whom there is no other God, wishes to announce to them;....that he who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things, I mean numerically, not in will.
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 56 (mid-second century Rome)

Origen: Is the Son distinct from the Father?
Heraclides: Of course. How can he be Son if he is also Father?
Origen: While being distinct from the Father is the Son himself also God?
Heraclides: He himself is also God.
Origen: And do two Gods become a unity?
Heraclides: Yes.
Origen: Do we confess two Gods?
Hearclides: Yes. The power is one.
Origen: But since our brothers take offense at the statement that there are two Gods, we must formulate the doctrine carefully, and show in what sense they are two and in what sense the two are one God.

Origen, Dialogue with Heraclides 124 (early third century Alexandria)

Following up on polytheism in early Judaism and Christianity

Lots of comments yesterday. Thank you to all for raising good issues.

1. I want to post here Rebecca Lesses' comment because she is SO right to bring this up. It is the same in Christianity which is why I said in my post that whether or not you think Christianity became a monotheistic religion depends on how you view the success of the Trinity.
Rebecca Lesses: And even after the rise of rabbinic Judaism, we still find Jewish mystical texts that are very questionably monotheistic - see the treatment of Metatron in 3 Enoch, among other Hekhalot literature. (Some of the texts call him Metatron YHWH, after all). I sometimes think that it's only because of medieval rationalist philosophers like Maimonides that Judaism became truly monotheistic (and that's only if you focus on the rationalist tradition). The doctrine of the Sefirot in the medieval kabbalah is questionably monotheistic in the same way that the doctrine of the Trinity in Christianity is questionable.
2. Definitions always get in the way. Monotheism is always going to be a stumbling block for us. I say along with Paula Fredrikson, RETIRE IT! for our period. Let's work out a better language to talk about what was going on. If I can pray to an angel and get help (i.e., be healed) and still be considered a Jew or a Christian, what should this be called? If I think that God can manifest himself on earth in various forms, and I start worshiping one of them (i.e., Jesus) in addition to the father, and still be considered a Jew or a Christian, what should this be called?

3. As for the issue of exclusivity. Well it does and doesn't work. There were ranges of possibilities within early Judaism. Some Jews saw Yahweh worship as exclusive - as in Yahweh is unique and other gods cannot be assimilated to him. Other Jews were fine with assimilating him with other gods. Were the Jews known for worshiping Yahweh? Absolutely. Were the Jews known for resisting his assimilation? Absolutely. But keep in mind that this was only SOME Jews, and these particular Jews had a loud voice that the Romans noticed because it was the voice of RESISTANCE which led to uprisings and conflicts that they had to deal with.

4. We must move to more complex understandings of the historical situation. This is tough for us because we want things to be simple. But they are never simple. Just look at Judaism and Christianity today. Look at the range of ideas and the range of reactions to them within the communities. The ancient world would have been no different, except for the fact that each community had less knowledge at any given moment about what other communities were doing around their world. So insular developments of traditions should be expected to some extent.

Early Jewish and Christian polytheism?

N.T. Wrong (who I hope will one day reveal his/her real identity) is again right. His/her question reveals that he/she knows what he/she is talking about. Here is his/her question:
Well, because you asked. I've often wondered to what extent and in what ways Christian doctrine concerning the divine was influenced by the emerging Rabbinic orthodoxy (ca. AD 200). That is, Rabbinic orthodoxy seems to have introduced a stricter monotheism to the matrix of Judaisms that included Christianities. Did that part of Christendom which is now called 'proto-orthodox' Christianity likewise, and in response, seek to 'tone down' its polytheistic understandings of divinized humanity, a divinized Christ, angelic and demonic beings, and a Most High God? How do the discussions going on in Rabbinic Judaism provide a normative influence on Christianities which previously seemed quite open to a hierarchy of divinities, even in its 'proto-orthodox' quarters, as is evidenced in the Epistle of the Apostles, or the Odes of Solomon, or Mileto, or the Gospels of John and Thomas?
I don't have a great deal of time these days since I've become involved in writing another article on the Gospel of Judas (you won't believe what I have been finding!) and trying to get prepared to fly to Amherst this weekend to give a lecture on the Gospel of Judas on Friday night to a CSSR group.

Here's my quick take on Wrong's question. It is undeniable in my opinion that Judaism and Christianity before Nicaea were not monotheistic religions (as we define it today). In fact, one can question whether Christianity ever really became monotheistic - all depends on how convinced you are that the doctrine of the Trinity actually resolves the polytheism of a Father and Son being worshiped. Of course there is absolute resistance to this idea, especially among scholars who want early Judaism and Christianity to be monotheistic. So they have come up with all kinds of ways to contort the sources and their readings of them to make it look otherwise, including playing the heresy card.

But here are the facts as I see them. The first Christians were Jews. They had no problem worshiping Jesus alongside the father god almost from the start. I think that this worship was pre-Pauline, and centered in Antioch, although I do not rule out Jerusalem (see my paper in the book Israel's God and Rebecca's Children, "How we talk about Christology Matters"). They thought that Jesus was God's great angel who came to earth as a human being and was exalted to the angelic status of the NAME angel at his resurrection. The Jews in the Second Temple period from Philo to Qumran to all the Jewish apocalyptic texts believed that God manifested himself as the NAME angel on earth. This NAME angel, because he was invested with God's NAME, was essentially GOD. The Samaritans had various sectarian movements in the first century that played on this theme. Simon the Samaritan taught that he was the manifestation of this POWER of God, and that he had been sent to earth from the father in order to save the lost soul. The Jewish gnostics in the first century were able to develop the demiurge myth because they relied on these same ideas - that God had a NAMED angel YAHWEH who was distinct from GOD yet was the GOD who created the world.

Then there are all the polemics among late first and second century Christians about who is worshiping angels, who is asking angels for intercessory favors. Christians or Jews? Then we add to this all the polemics that developed in the late second and third centuries among the rabbis about the TWO POWERS heresy and how authentic Jews only worship YAHWEH. Then we find poor Arius caught in a ferocious battle over whether or not it is desirable to continue to call Jesus an angel and worship him as second in command.

I could go on and on. My point is this. Early Judaism and Christianity were not monotheistic religions, but were at best monalotrous (=worshiped one god but allowed for the existence of other gods). It was because of this that Christianity was able to be born out of Judaism as a Jewish expression of a new form of Yahwehism, and Gnosticism could become the fancy of Jewish intellectuals living in first-century Alexandria. This must mean that the program of some of the post-exilic priests to make Judaism a monotheistic religion DID NOT WORK, as in fact the wisdom literature and Sophia traditions prove in my opinion. This had to wait until the rabbis came along and created what many consider the basis for modern Judaism, and insisted that all forms of worship other than YAHWEH be banned. Whether or not the bishops and church theologians ever really made Christianity monotheistic depends on how well one thinks that the Nicaea decision and later the doctrine of the Trinity really worked.

As an aside, this scenario is not new stuff, nor is Boyarin the first to discuss some of these issues in his book Borderlines (2004). In fact, Alan Segal in Two Powers in Heaven (1977), and Jarl Fossum in The Name of God and the Angel of the Lord (1985) and The Image of the Invisible God (1995) were the two scholars who made the case initially, and wrote about it brilliantly.

Polypraxy (too)

It looks like polydoxy is leading in the polls. But I'm still leaving the question open for further comment if you wish to weigh in.

David Creech and Jared Calaway have good points about practice - and polypraxy should be part of this new language.

Although some say that it is technically correct that the "doxys" are "belief" or "doctrine" oriented, the words are actually used in the literature to encompass the entire "lived" tradition being discussed, not just the doctrines but also what the doctrines mean in terms of practice. So I think that that polydoxy can be more inclusive, referencing not only what different Christians were saying theologically but what the implications of that theology was for their ritual behaviors and lifestyles.

I guess what I'm saying is that a religious tradition doesn't make a strict distinction between thinking and doing - they are intertwined. This distinction appears to be a western scholastic distinction. In fact, if you study eastern orthodoxy at all you will be immediately faced with the fact that "orthodoxy" is "a way of life" based on certain beliefs. Orthodoxy is defined by the tradition as "right belief" and "right glory" or "right worship." The Orthodox church today thinks that it is orthodox because it teaches true belief and right worship.

This understanding of the eastern Orthodox appears to me to be quite old. When the ancient Christians were concerned about "orthodoxy" they were concerned about correct doctrine because it led to correct practice (and thus salvation). That is what the fourth and fifth century Christological dispute was all about. It wasn't about whether or not Jesus had his own soul. It was about the eucharist - making sure that the body that was being eaten gave the faithful the right benefit. The argument that "won" was a compromise argument between the West and the Antiocheans, and it was the argument that Jesus had to have his own soul, because he has to be fully human in order for his bodily sacrifice to be vicarious for us when it is eaten at the altar.

Gotta love Amazon

Just got this e-mail from Amazon. I got a laugh out of it since I'm one of the co-editors with David Capes, Helen Bond, and Troy Miller. Anyway, this is a great collection of articles in honor of Larry Hurtado and Alan Segal. And this is a great price. It is over 600 pp. and hardcover. Many new insights on the development of Christology and issues of community in early Christianity.
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Book Honoring Alan Segal and Larry Hurtado

I couldn't mention this book before because it was a surprise reveal at SBL. But I helped edit a book honoring the scholarship and friendship of Alan Segal and Larry Hurtado. We have called it Israel's God and Rebecca's Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity (published by Baylor Press). The book is very integrated, very much like a conference volume with cutting edge papers.

I don't have the book here at home, so if I miss an author is is due to my memory failure and nothing else. Contributors include Fredrikson, Adela Collins, Bauckham, Dunn, Epp, Thompson, Bond, Foster, Casey, Miller, Newman, Gieschen, Levison, Klawans, Elior, Fitzgerald, Perkins, Capes, DeConick. And we had Alan and Larry contribute pieces for each other, telling them that the book was for the other person!

So this is the book I was working on all summer with David Capes. Since we are both in Houston, we worked in my office on the book, bringing it together just in time to be printed for the final joint AAR/SBL meeting. We had a surprise reception at Lou and Mickey's across the street from the convention center. Alan and Larry were completely surprised and delighted with the book. Carey Newman brought the project to reality, and we are all very thankful to him. The book is gorgeous.