Iesus Deus

Litwa, M David, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

The topic of this study is how early Christians imagined, constructed, and promoted Jesus as a deity in their literature from the first to the third centuries CE. My line of inquiry focuses on how ancient Mediterranean conceptions of divinity informed thiὅΝἵὁὀὅtὄuἵtiὁὀέΝ"εἷἶitἷὄὄaὀἷaὀ"ΝiὅΝὀὁtΝmἷaὀtΝtὁΝἷxἵluἶἷΝJἷwiὅhΝcomparanda and ἵὁὀἵἷὂtὅΝἸὁὄΝuὀἶἷὄὅtaὀἶiὀἹΝthἷΝὀatuὄἷΝaὀἶΝὁὄiἹiὀΝὁἸΝJἷὅuὅ'ΝἶiviὀityέΝτὀΝthἷΝὁthἷὄΝhaὀἶ,ΝthἷΝ current-virtually sole-ἸὁἵuὅΝὁὀΝ"JἷwiὅhΝἵhὄiὅtὁlὁἹy"ΝaἸἸὁὄἶὅΝtὁὁΝὀaὄὄὁwΝaΝlἷὀὅΝἴyΝ which to understand why and how early Christians imputed divinity to the man Jesus of Nazareth. ἦhἷΝ"ἕὄἷἵὁ-ἤὁmaὀ"ΝὅἵhὁlaὄlyΝἵatἷἹὁὄyΝὁἸΝthἷΝ"ἶiviὀἷΝmaὀ"-a shaman-like figure who is not necessarily a god-iὅΝtὁὁΝvaἹuἷΝtὁΝuὀἶἷὄὅtaὀἶΝthἷΝὀatuὄἷΝὁἸΝJἷὅuὅ'Ν divinity. Jesus, I argue, is specifically depicted as a deity in his divine conception (ch. 1), childhood zeal for honor (ch. 2), miraculous benefactions (ch. 3), epiphanic transfiguration (ch. 4), immortalizing resurrection (ch. 5), and his reception of a proper divine name (ch. 6). I conclude that by depicting Jesus as a Mediterranean deity, early Christians did ὀὁtΝ"ἴὁὄὄὁw"ΝἸὄὁmΝὅὁ-ἵallἷἶΝ"ὂaἹaὀ"ΝὁthἷὄὅέΝἤathἷὄ,ΝJἷwὅ,ΝἑhὄiὅtiaὀὅΝaὀἶΝὁthἷὄΝ hellenized pἷὁὂlἷὅΝὅhaὄἷἶΝaΝ"ὂὄἷ-uὀἶἷὄὅtaὀἶiὀἹ"ΝὁἸΝwhatΝἶiviὀityΝwaὅΝiὀΝthἷiὄΝἵultuὄἷέΝ This shared cultural capital allowed early Christians to depict Jesus as divine in ways both convincing to their contemporaries and faithful to the Jewish tradition. As a consequence, this book takes scholarship one step further beyond the oldbut still pervasive-"JuἶaiὅmήώἷllἷὀiὅmΝἶiviἶἷέ"ΝἦhiὅΝἶiviἶἷΝὄἷἸlἷἵtὅΝaΝἶiὅὂutἷΝamὁὀἹΝ ὅἵhὁlaὄὅΝὁvἷὄΝwhἷthἷὄΝtὁΝἶἷὂiἵtΝJἷὅuὅΝἵhiἷἸlyΝiὀΝtἷὄmὅΝὁἸΝ"Jἷwiὅh"ΝὁὄΝ"ἕὄἷἷk"ΝἵatἷἹὁὄiἷὅέΝ The deity of Jesus, I argue, is based on conceptions of divinity shared, recognized, and owned by both Jews, Syrians, Romans, and the whole spectrum of other hellenized peoples. Historically speaking, the hellenization of Judea occurred long before the birth of Jesus (with no loss to Jewish identity), paving the way for a strikingly early deification of Jesus Christ.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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