Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World

Destroyer of the Gods Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World Silly stupid irrational simple Wicked hateful obstinate anti social Extravagant perverse The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianity including branding Christianity new Nov

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  • Title: Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World
  • Author: Larry W. Hurtado
  • ISBN: 9781481304733
  • Page: 364
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Silly, stupid, irrational, simple Wicked, hateful, obstinate, anti social Extravagant, perverse The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianity including branding Christianity new Novelty was no Roman religious virtue.Nevertheless, as Larry W Hurtado shows in Destroyer of the gods, Christianity thrived despite its new and disti Silly, stupid, irrational, simple Wicked, hateful, obstinate, anti social Extravagant, perverse The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianity including branding Christianity new Novelty was no Roman religious virtue.Nevertheless, as Larry W Hurtado shows in Destroyer of the gods, Christianity thrived despite its new and distinctive features and opposition to them Unlike nearly all other religious groups, Christianity utterly rejected the traditional gods of the Roman world Christianity also offered a new and different kind of religious identity, one not based on ethnicity Christianity was distinctively a bookish religion, with the production, copying, distribution, and reading of texts as central to its faith, even preferring a distinctive book form, the codex Christianity insisted that its adherents behave differently unlike the simple ritual observances characteristic of the pagan religious environment, embracing Christian faith meant a behavioral transformation, with particular and novel ethical demands for men Unquestionably, to the Roman world, Christianity was both new and different, and, to a good many, it threatened social and religious conventions of the day.In the rejection of the gods and in the centrality of texts, early Christianity obviously reflected commitments inherited from its Jewish origins But these particular features were no longer identified with Jewish ethnicity and early Christianity quickly became aggressively trans ethnic a novel kind of religious movement Its ethical teaching, too, bore some resemblance to the philosophers of the day, yet in contrast with these great teachers and their small circles of dedicated students, early Christianity laid its hard demands upon all adherents from the moment of conversion, producing a novel social project.Christianity s novelty was no badge of honor Called atheists and suspected of political subversion, Christians earned Roman disdain and suspicion in equal amounts Yet, as Destroyer of the gods demonstrates, in an irony of history the very features of early Christianity that rendered it distinctive and objectionable in Roman eyes have now become so commonplace in Western culture as to go unnoticed Christianity helped destroy one world and create another.

    One thought on “Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World”

    1. There have been in recent centuries attempts to portray Christianity as being the product of it's Greco-Roman environment. Efforts were made to demonstrate the influence of various mystery cults on Christianity, leaving the question of whether Christianity was in any way unique and distinctive. Larry Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, offers a detailed description of the ways in which early Christianity was quite distin [...]

    2. Larry W. HurtadoDestroyer of the Gods: Early ChristianDistinctiveness in the Roman WorldWaco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2016Pp. xiv + 290. $19.95.Perceiving the trend in patristic scholarship to over-emphasize the similarities of pagan religion, philosophy, and the mystery religions with Christianity—especially their influence on the development of early Christianity—Larry Hurtado seeks to provide a corrective reevaluation in his Destroyer of the gods. Fundamental to his study is his thes [...]

    3. Another excellent book by New Testament scholar Larry W. Hurtado. In the first chapter, Hurtado surveys the sorts of criticisms Christians faced from their critics, beginning with the most vociferous (Saul/Paul) through Pliny, Galen, Marcus Aurelius, Lucian of Samosata, Celsus, etc He then goes on to examine the nature of Christian "religion" and the then-accepted nature of religion in the Roman world. Although occasionally a bit overly cautious with his conclusions, he nevertheless makes a powe [...]

    4. This an excellent description of early Christian communities by a New Testament scholar and historian. It is especially stunning to see how the precise moral practice of Christian communities set them apart from the Roman culture. These very practices were seen as a threat to the empire and foolish to surrounding society. Christians were known as atheists, and by their behavior they displayed a radical alternative to the prevailing norms.

    5. History book describing and assessing what made Christianity unique in the early centuries of its existence. Interesting for people of all religions and none. Much of what we take for granted about religions today - that they can be transethnic or are often centred around holy writings - are really innovation of the first-century Jesus movement. Written for thinking people of all ages by a longtime Edinburg University professor. Full of great insights on every page. Probably the best book I've r [...]

    6. Excellent!Interview with the author available here: stitcher/podcast/the-(Or through iTunes 'Christian Humanist Profiles' podcast.)

    7. A bit repetitive. But full of good insights on Greco-Roman backgrounds and some of the distinctive aspects to the Christian faith—its "bookishness," it behavioral requirements, etc. Fascinating material from a seasoned scholar. A bit repetitive. ;-)

    8. In Larry W. Hurtado's book Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, early Christianity is shown as a very different kind of religion compared with the religious thought of the ancient Roman world. Hurtado, an Emeritus Professor at the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, unfolds the little-known origins of Christianity in a thoughtful and thorough monograph. Throughout the book, he highlights the features of early Christianity that were different t [...]

    9. I think this book has been over-hyped. That's my own opinion of course. The reason I think it's over-hyped is because I didn't find much that was new to me in this book. And, frankly, the title seems to promise more than the book fulfills. The subtitle is more appropriate. Hurtado aims to show that much of what we think to be typical of religions was actually rather new, or at least distinctive, of Christianity as it emerged in the Roman Empire. Within the Roman Empire of approximately two thous [...]

    10. I thought this was a very useful and enlightening book. It suffered from two things. First, there was too much repetition and it could have used some tighter editing. Second, I think the author glossed over the place of ministry and the sacraments in early Christianity. Oddly, he emphasized the Christian adoption of the codex as the primary format for their publishing (as opposed to scrolls) and he never really was able to address why this was important. He certainly didn't demonstrate that any [...]

    11. I read this to get some basic background for reading Emmanuel Carrère's stunning new novel, The Kingdom (Seriously, don't miss that one!) Hurtado's book is helpful and backs up Carriere's basic presentation of early Christianity as being highly distinctive compared with the religions of European antiquity. The resistance to assimilation; the reliance on text and strong demands on lifestyle made the Christian religion stand out at the time and Hurtado gives a lot of interesting examples of what [...]

    12. I found this book intriguing. It's written from humanistic, scholarly perspective, but the author was respectful to (and perhaps even admiring of) Christianity, as you could probably tell from the title. One of the most interesting aspects for me, personally, was the "bookishness" of early Christians, and aspect which even today affects the regard Western people (religious and irreligious) have for texts. A second was the notion of religion and identity, specifically that Christianity developed [...]

    13. Hurtado explores the uniqueness of Christianity as it expanded rapidly within the Roman empire. He notes how dangerous and odd it was in upending people's culturally embedded worship practices - defined more by action and allegiance and ritual than by belief. This is why Christianity was considered a threatening atheistic practice, as much as a new religion on the terms that religion was understood at the time. Hurtado explores how Christianity has entirely reshaped Western understandings and as [...]

    14. Fascinating study into what made early Christianity different from Judaism and the Roman paganism during the first few centuries in Rome and Greece. The author covers the theories of why Romans persecuted Christians, why the relationship between the Christian's one God was unique from the Romans relationships to their many gods, how the identity of being a Christian was unique, and the most interesting to me, how Christianity influenced social behaviors of that era(child exposure, gladiator cont [...]

    15. How different was early Christianity from the panoply of religions around it?Hurtado answers in this book. Helpful stuff. Here's a few, he goes into1. Emphasis on behavior.2. Attack on sexual mores.3. Vast use of literacy4. The first multi-national and multi-ethnic religion not driven by force, ever.5. Insistence on monotheism but not as a national identity (cf. Judaism's monotheism as an accepted idiosyncrasy of its nationalism)

    16. An excellent and well-presented look at how Christians were distinct from (and akin to) the culture around them in the first 3 centuries of the Christian era. Hurtado does a good job of considering a vast number of sources, both Christian and non-Christian and how each of them saw the Christians.Highly recommended for those interested in Church history and early Christianity.

    17. Very good review of early Christianity; how they understood themselves and how others understood them. I found chapter 5 "A New Way to Live" particularly insightful. Early Christians were unique in their emphasis on social and behavioral requirements of adherents. These requirements are what others noticed and what attracted them or repulsed them.

    18. I read this book after Keller mentioned it.It's to overly academic but still dry. At the same time, this is a worthwhile subject for pastors and churches to ponder -what made Christianity distinct in the ancient world? There are answers here.

    19. A clear and concise overview of what made Christianity distinct in the first three centuries. The footnotes point to further reading for those who are interested.

    20. The goal of Hurtado's work is to demonstrate that Christianity was distinct from the religions and culture of the Greco-Roman world into which it was born and was thought to be dangerously different at the time. Hurtado argues this on the basis of 1) a commitment to monotheism that transcended ethnic identity; 2) an exclusive religious identity that transcended geopolitical boundaries or ethnicity; 3) a unique commitment to "textuality" with an emphasis on codices and written documents; and 4) a [...]

    21. Larry W. Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. Hurtado has authored numerous books related to early Christianity, including Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity and The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins. Most recently, Hurtado has written a blockbuster of a book and thought-provoking investigation into the distinctiveness of early Christianit [...]

    22. “Early Christianity of the first three centuries was a different, even distinctive, kind of religious movement in the cafeteria of religious options of the (Roman empire) times.” Specifically, Christianity was a “clear and present danger,” one that “had to be opposed.” Initially, converts to Christianity were small in number. But their numbers began increasing exponentially, from about 1,000 adherents in 40 A.D to 10,000 in 100 A.D to 5-6 million by 300 A.D. Early Christianity histor [...]

    23. My reading tastes don't range too far away from Biblical Studies and Hermeneutics, Ministry and Preaching. But, within those boundaries, I seek a diverse selection and am always interested in things that others recommend. Thus, Hurtado.The subtitle of Destroyer of the Gods captures the essence of this material. Hurtado sets out to identify Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World. From a novice's perspective he succeeds admirably. I know more than ever about the 1st three centuries of [...]

    24. Lately, I have been interested in reading more about christianity in the first three centuries. I listened to Larry Hurtado and Tom Holland discussing how christianity was so different than romans and all the the religions at that time. I didn't really know who Hurtado was and his contributions on historical Christianity till I listened to him. I did some research and i found that he is a respected scholar so I wanted to read this book. If you want to know more about the primitive church this is [...]

    25. Overall: a compelling argument for the thesis--that Christianity was peculiar in its ancient religio-philosophico-social environment (I feel accomplished for that tripartite word there), both Jewish and Pagan. Those who have read Hurtado's other works will see that his engagement with Judaism of the time is largely rehearsed in this book, but his dealings with Pagan philosophers, civic authorities, etc. was new and interesting. I would've liked the kind of thorough analysis of those Pagan source [...]

    26. Cogently argued and effective. Narrow in scope and appropriately short. Provides a small handful of clearly illustrated ways in which early Christianity was highly distinct from Roman culture and religion, most or perhaps all of which are hard to see without proper background in ancient history, which the author provides just enough of to make his points come across.

    27. A concise and useful historical analysis of some features of early Christianity that were shocking at the time. Those features have since become the norm in most western understandings of religion and culture. Remembering the origins of those norms is a worthwhile exercise. Hurtado is easy to read and is an expert in the field. Very useful book.

    28. What a wonderful exposition both of all the modern conception of religion owes to Christianity and of how first, second and third century Romans and Greeks won of have viewed Christians. The chapter on the uniquely "textual" or "bookish" nature of Christianity against every other contemporaneous religion alone is worth the book!

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