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ENDORSEMENTS:

Adela Yarbro Collins: “This book is of interest to a wide readership. It will help historical critics understand what “divinity” meant in the ancient world. It will also help theologians understand the origins of Christology. I recommend it to students, scholars, and any reader curious about Jesus.”

Stanley Stowers: “M. David Litwa’s Iesus Deus marks a major breakthrough in scholarship on early Christianity.  The book manages to overcome the scholarly  apologetic segregation of early Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ from Greek and Roman dominated Mediterranean culture and to demonstrate the fit of these beliefs in that Hellenistic context. A great deal of writing about the ‘purely Jewish’ Christ crumbles with this book.”

David Aune: “In Iesus Deus, M. David Litwa surveys six of the more significant ways in which early Christians from the first through the third centuries CE drew on common reservoir of ancient Mediterranean conceptions of deity as models for expressing the ultimate significance of Jesus, namely his divine origin and deity.  These six themes include divine conception (focusing on Luke 1), punitive protection of honor (Jesus as the enfant terrible of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas), superhuman moral benefaction (Origen’s argumentation in the Contra Celsum), epiphanic or theophanic manifestation (the Gospel transfiguration narratives), corporeal immortalization (the Gospel resurrection accounts), and the reception of a proper divine name (Phil 2:9-11 in the light of Roman imperial practice). This is an extraordinarily well-written, nuanced, convincingly argued and methodologically sophisticated comparative study which breaks new ground in understanding a centrally important aspect of the formation of early Christology. The author rightly criticizes the continued tendency to bifurcate “Judaism” and “Hellenism,” and in his use of comparative method rejects superficial conceptions of “borrowing” by appealing to the shared existence of an “embedded Hellenization” that pervaded ancient Mediterranean cultures.    The author makes use of an impressive array of primary and secondary sources over which he has enviable control.  This book gets four stars and should be required reading for all serious students of early Christian thought.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction: The “Deification” of Jesus Christ

Chapter 1: “Not through Semen, Surely”: Luke and Plutarch on Divine Birth

Chapter 2: “From Where Was this Child Born?”: Divine Children and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

Chapter 3: Deus est iuvare”: Miracles, Morals, and Euergetism in Origen’s Contra Celsum

Chapter 4: “And he was Metamorphosed”: Transfiguration as Epiphany

Chapter 5: “We Worship One who Rose from His Tomb”: Resurrection and Deification

Chapter 6: “The Name Above Every Name”: Jesus and Greco-Roman Theonymy