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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:2, Spring 2020

Strata: Milestone: Larry W. Hurtado

By Chris Keith

Larry W. Hurtado, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, passed away on November 25, 2019, after a battle with leukemia.

A Missourian by birth (Kansas City), Hurtado earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies (with highest honors) from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, in 1965. He then earned an M.A. in New Testament (cum laude) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1967. He earned a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1973, writing his dissertation under the supervision of Eldon J. Epp.

Hurtado’s first employment after obtaining his doctorate was as a pastor in the Chicago area. He then took up an appointment at Regent College, Vancouver (1975–1978) before eventually moving on to the University of Manitoba, where he would remain for 17 years (1978–1996). In 1996, he moved to the University of Edinburgh, where he served as Professor of New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology until his retirement in 2011. Hurtado described retirement as an “extended research leave” and remained research active until his death. At Edinburgh he revived the postgraduate program in New Testament and Christian Origins and founded the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins.

Among other accomplishments, Hurtado was elected to membership in Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in 1984 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008. He also served as President of the British New Testament Society from 2009 to 2012.

Hurtado’s voluminous publications ranged from New Testament textual criticism, the Gospel of Mark, and early Christian book culture to early Christology. Unquestionably his magnum opus was Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Early Christianity (Eerdmans, 2003). Hurtado argued for an “early high Christology” among Jesus’s earliest followers, asserting that cultic reverence for Jesus in manners usually reserved for the god of Israel was a Jewish phenomenon and present at the earliest stages of the Jesus tradition.

Hurtado was unafraid of contentious dialogue with scholars as well as nonspecialists, but was also genuinely warm, encouraging, and funny. He loved to discuss the latest contributions to scholarship over a pint or coffee and was a tireless champion for his students and colleagues. As another of his students has said elsewhere, “He was the best this discipline has to offer, and he will be sorely missed.”

A Ph.D. scholarship fund has been established in Hurtado’s honor (—Chris Keith