Larry Hurtado on Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World

On September 10, 2016, Professor Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh) delivered a lecture at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas: “A New and Mischievous Superstition: Early Christianity in the Roman World”.

The lecture covers material from his recent book, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Waco: Baylor University Press, September 2016).

In the Roman world in which Christianity first emerged it was viewed as different and dangerous. And Christianity was distinctive. Christian’s were called atheists and regarded as impious, because they refused to worship the traditional gods. Unlike other religious groups of the day, they had no shrines, altars, images or priests. Reading and disseminating texts were central activities. Early Christianity comprised a new kind of religious identity that wasn’t tied to ethnicity. Unlike traditional Roman-era religion, Christianity also made ethics central. But, ironically, all these things that made early Christianity distinctive, even odd, in the ancient Roman world, have become commonplace assumptions about “religion” for us. This lecture addresses our cultural amnesia, showing how early Christianity helped to challenge the ancient world and helped to shape our world.

Destroyer of the Gods was also the subject of a panel discussion at Lanier Theological Library, on September 9, 2016. The panel included Carey Newman (Baylor University Press), Rubel Shelly (Lipscomb University), and Christian Eberhart (University of Houston), with Mark Lanier as Moderator.

Further, Professor Hurtado is interviewed about Destroyer of the Gods by:

Professor Hurtado also notes his article in Catalyst, which draws on some of the material in Destroyer of the Gods: “The Distinctiveness of Early Christianity” (October 5, 2016).

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