In some recent studies of early expressions of Jesus-devotion, there are some issues that need clarification. One of these recent studies is Iesus Deus: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God, by M. David Litwa (Fortress Press, 2014).
I must begin by acknowledging the learning displayed and, most often, the carefully crafted analysis and claims advanced. Essentially, Litwa seeks to show that early Christianity (in the first couple of centuries or so) drew upon and adapted literary topoi and various notions, in particular notions about how human figures could be, or become, divine in some sense of the word.
For example, in one chapter Litwa compares the account of Jesus’ miraculous conception in GLuke with Plutarch’s thoughts on the divine involvement in the conception of figures such as Plato. In both writers, Litwa notes the use of “pneuma” (“spirit”) and “dynamis” (“power”) to…
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