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

Product Details
Baylor University Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Larry W. Hurtado is Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Born in Kansas City (Missouri), he now lives in Edinburgh.


In Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, Larry W. Hurtado provides an in-depth survey of the features that made early Christianity unusual in the Roman world. Hurtado's exploration of the distinctive features of early Christianity is informative, exciting to read, and enlightening.

--Steven Shisley "Reading Religion"

Hurtado's clear and well-reasoned voice serves as an authoritative guide through the tangle of earliest Christianity in its Roman environment. From Roman accounts of early Christian oddity to early Christian book culture, Hurtado collects arcane pieces of knowledge that could well serve as material for pub quizzes and amasses them into a plausible and largely compelling analysis. It remains to be seen how someone else will take his work and build upon it.

--Jonathon Lookadoo "Marginalia Review of Books"

Hurtado, emeritus professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh, discusses the history and evolution of ecumenical Christian practices in this elegantly straightforward book...Hurtado does an excellent job of walking readers very odd early Christianity was for its place and time and how it came to overturn and replace ancient systems and beliefs. Hurtado writes with a measured tone and learned authority. Those wishing to know more about early Christianity will find much here.

-- "Publishers Weekly"

Hurtado's book, written to appeal to a wide audience, explains just how odd and objectionable Jesus' followers, their counter-establishment church, and even their writings looked during the first three centuries of the Christian movement.

-- "The Christian Century"

An important scholarly look at the birth of Christianity within the Roman embrace.

-- "Library Journal"

Whether one applauds or disdains the values of contemporary Western culture, what we assume to be good, true, and normal has been shaped to a surprising degree by early Christianity. Demolishing taken-for-granted assumptions about what religion was, is, and can be, Hurtado's provocative exploration deserves a broad audience.

--Matthew W. Bates, Quincy University "OnScript"

Larry Hurtado...reminds us that early Christianity emerged as a profoundly countercultural movement, one that could never be mistaken as mirroring the values of its environment.

--Ronald P. Byars "Presbyterian Outlook"

D estroyer of the gods is a very clear and readable book and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand issues dealt with in early Christian writers, particularly Paul's letters. I thoroughly recommend it to students of the New Testament and more widely as a reminder that there is a cost to a church which stands out in its social and cultural setting.

--Tim Gill "ANVIL: Journal of Theology and Mission"

D estroyer of the Gods is an intriguing and wide-ranging examination of several key features of Christianity that distinguished it from the various religious beliefs and practices common in Greco-Roman society...Given its effectiveness in introducing readers to the distinct aspects of the Christian faith, the volume would serve as a valuable supplementary text for undergraduate or graduate courses in either New Testament or Church History.

--Benjamin Laird "Southeastern Theological Review"

Highly recommended for use in local churches and undergraduate courses.

--Ron Lindo "Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry"

D estroyer of the gods is a welcome and important book as it challenges what seems by now have become the mainstream, at least in late antique studies, namely highlighting the similarities between Christianity and other ancient religions and stressing the embeddedness of Christians in the Greco-Roman world.

--Maijastina Kahlos "PLEKOS"

Valuable reading at any level of education.

--Edwin Judge "Ancient History: Resources for Teachers"

...An admirable discussion of early Christianity partly directed towards an educated lay readership, and one that will invite reactions from scholars of the ancient world and the early church. In moving away from looking simply at Constantine and the victory of Christianity, Hurtado is encouraging us to look deeper and to return to those early writings that shape the Christian faith.

--Anthony Smart "Vigilae Christianae"

The volume is well written, contains extensive endnotes, and avoids jargon. Hurtado's erudition will reward the reader, especially undergraduates and scholars with little or no previous knowledge of scholarship on early Christianity.

--Nickolas P. Roubekas "Religious Studies Review"

...Hurtado's work is not only of historical importance, but also helps Christians today better understand their identity in an increasingly pluralistic world that is decreasingly open to the exclusivist claims of Christian faith.

--Greg Thellman "Kairos"

...Accesible to a wide range of readers, who will be indebted to Hurtado's mastery of the source materials and clarity of thought...A masterful account of why Christians from the very beginning were different.

--Andrew Cinnamond "Churchman"

Each essay offers its own contribution to research, and the volume as a whole is valuable for researchers and students for studying the history of christological research of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries both through Hurtado's original work and through Hurtado's interaction with other major voices in christological scholarship.

--Kai Akagi "Religious Studies Review"