Saturday, August 04, 2007

Larry Hurtado@Singapore Bible College

Yesterday me, Nalika, and Zhen Hao attended Ichthus Seminar at Singapore Bible College. This round, Prof. Larry Hurtado from Edinburgh Uni. was here to present his paper titled "Binatarian Monotheism: God and Jesus in the NT".

Actually this seminar was cater to audience ranges from 'pastors, theological students, scholars' as indicated in Ichthus website. Unashamedly, 3 of 'obviously-out-of-place' us were there sitting at most front (2nd row from front) of the conference room (due to my short-sightedness) eagerly awaiting words of wisdom and knowledge being poured out to our portion. Without discrimination to the uncatered audience, the conference began.

Hurtado was given 45 mins to read his paper then followed by Q&A session. If i'm not wrong (hesistate not because i was sleepy but because i didn't want to dominate the Q&A but with only 1 remark and 1 question), his main contention is that the main historical factor that gave rise or prompted the early monotheistic Jewish-Christians to worship Jesus as god is their 'special revelatory experiences' which demands them to do so.

In other words, he was saying that the early Christians, who believe in the one and only god (i supposed Hurtado was refering to YHWH, even though he didn't mention the tetragammaton), devote themselves to Jesus as how they devote themselves to the deity because, through their own religious experiences, they recognize that the one and only god, YHWH, wants them to do so. And i think this is where the paper's jargonistic title derived itself from; Binatarian Monotheism'.
Sidenote: This is the real reason why i attended the seminar: By just paying $10 and spending 1 hour, I can have a 1-sentence summary at the end of the conference to get the gist of Prof. Hurtado's 25-years-of-research findings. If not, the only other alternative that is available to me is to spend about 80 hours reading his 746-page magnum opus which cost $54. Not that i don't have the book (which, after yesterday, being consummated by his signature), but i dont have the time and energy and patience to go through the 80 hours of eating it and then follows the numerous hours of digestion.
In the presentation, he explored and confronted the works of Wilhelm Bousset, Maurice Casey, James Dunn, Timo Eskola, Richard Bauckham and others before concluding with his own approach. I'm not sure about the rest, but having read Bauckham's work, i dont think Hurtado represents Bauckham's view as clear. He categorized Bauckham's approach as 'theological inference' which lack the needed historical analysis. In other words, to Hurtado, Bauckham did not provide the 'how' to the question on the origin of the early Christians' devotion to Jesus: how did the early Christians came to worship Jesus? And it is on this miscategorization i mumbly remarked, "(elegantly & unjustifiably paraphrased here) I think Bauckham did suggest that the resurrection as the historical event that provides the early Christians with a hermeneutical lens to interpret the OT material such as the Deutero-Isaiah as indication that Jesus is god and hence worth worshipping."

And my question was, "do you (Prof. Hurtado) consider the resurrection as a historical event?"

Graciously he replied (and at this post, i unjustifiably paraphrase) that the resurrection by itself cannot prompt the early Christians to worship Jesus. The 1st disciples encounter with the risen Jesus do not, by itself, motivate them to worship Jesus as to god. It was through 'special revelatory experiences' of the disciples that they came to understand that it was god, himself, who requires them to do so and therefore they did so.

Though i was (and still not) satisfy with his reply, i have to chained myself, due to my identity as an uncatered audience, from further questioning and clarification so that the real catered audiences be priviledged to correspond as well.

Dr. Phillip Satthethwaite, OT lecturer from BGST, posted a question which i regard as sharing the similar concern as mine "What was that which provides the horse-power for early Christian worship to Jesus?" After him, there were 2 other questions which are very good, applicable, and practical, but i just simply can't recall them now.

Anyway, i think i will get the recorded DVD from Ichthus when it is being released (if that happens) to the public. Until now, I have a bit of uneasy feeling (regret?) that i didn't take the liberty to inquire further with Prof. Hurtado. But the 'uncatered-audience' part of me is glad that i didn't.

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