Early High Christology and the Legacy of Larry Hurtado (1943–2019)

His first blog post—before academic blogging was a thing—featured 18 humble words: “As time permits, I hope to offer some worthwhile comments on early Christianity and perhaps other subjects too” (July 5, 2010). As of today, his blog has more than 2 million pageviews. His name is Larry Hurtado, and on November 26 he went to be with the Lord.

He’s one of the most influential New Testament scholars you’ve probably never heard of.

Hurtado wrote mainly for an academic audience, expressing his views on early Christianity through monographs, articles, and scholarly conferences. (Only in 2018 did he write his first truly popular-level book, Honoring the Son.) I remember the frustration I felt when, long after masters-level studies, I was just discovering his writings. I wondered, Why hadn’t anyone mentioned this guy before? While it’s unfortunate that Hurtado wasn’t more widely accessible to lay audiences, his ideas have still made their way from the academy to the pew through hundreds—if not thousands—of students, scholars, professors, and pastors deeply influenced by his work.

Profound Influence

Despite being born and educated in the Midwest, Hurtado’s academic career began in Canada (1975–1996, Regent College and University of Manitoba) and ended in Scotland (1996–2011, University of Edinburgh). He helped make New College at Edinburgh a powerhouse of biblical studies. He published around a dozen books (as author or editor) and was particularly prolific in shorter, technical writings. Upon his retirement he was named emeritus professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology.

In October 2018, Hurtado announced he’d been diagnosed with AML, a form of leukemia. Initially the treatments seemed effective, but this past summer it returned aggressively. I was one of likely several people whom Hurtado informed that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill some writing-project commitment—for he only had weeks, at most months, to live. Though he remained engaged in writing incisive pieces on his blog as late as a week ago, the University of Edinburgh announced that he died in his sleep on November 26, at the age of 75.

Others who knew Hurtado personally, such as Mike Kruger and Tommy Wasserman, have reflected on their warm relationship with him. I only knew him professionally, and in a limited way. But like many others who knew him from afar, he profoundly influenced me. I wish to reflect on his…

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