Iesus Deus: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God
What does it mean for Jesus to be "deified" in early Christian literature? Early Christians did not simply assert Jesus' divinity; in their literature, they depicted Jesus with the specific and widely recognized traits of Mediterranean deities.
Relying on the methods of the history of religions and ranging judiciously across Hellenistic literature, M. David Litwa shows that at each stage in their depiction of Jesus' life and ministry, early Christian writings from the beginning relied on categories drawn not from Judaism alone, but on a wide, pan-Mediterranean understanding of deity.
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Putting the New Testament conceptions of Jesus' divinity and "supernatural" nature in its original cultural context of the ancient Mediterranean, this superb study shows many of the ways that the earliest Christians depicted and portrayed the significance of Jesus by speaking/writing of him from concepts that were prevalent in their own culture. The earliest Christology was a mixture of a Jewish/Hellenistic thought world, with much of the greater Greco-Roman/Mediterranean thought world playing into the ways Jesus was portrayed in the remembrances of him as unique. Litwa's study is exacting, historically informed, conversant with the best scholars on these issues and well balanced.
Students of the New Testament, historical Jesus studies and or Christian origins should give this fine study a thorough reading and consideration.