“Resurrection-Faith and the ‘Historical’ Jesus” by Larry Hurtado

This is an excellent article by one of the top scholars in early Christianity.

Abstract

It is clear that a remarkable Jesus-devotion, in which Jesus was accorded unprecedented kinds of reverence, was central in early Christian faith from its earliest extant expressions, and represents a significant escalation from the kinds of reverence that followers expressed during Jesus’ earthly ministry. This devotion seems to have been prompted by the conviction that God had raised Jesus from death and given him heavenly glory. The impact of Jesus’ own activities was certainly a factor, but experiences of the risen Jesus were crucial in generating this belief.
Moreover, Jesus’ resurrection meant a resounding vindication of the earthly Jesus. Belief in Jesus’ personal resurrection, thus, contributed strongly to interest in Jesus’ own activities and teaching, the formation and circulation of Jesus-tradition, and the composition of narrative accounts of his career. In short, the earliest ‘quest for the historical Jesus’ was prompted by the conviction that he had been resurrected.

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