Remembering Larry W. Hurtado, Leading NT Textual Scholar and Researcher of Early Christianity

Larry HurtadoLarry W. Hurtado (December 29, 1943 – November 25, 2019) was a New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity and Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (Professor 1996–2011). He was the Head of the School of Divinity 2007–2010, and was until August 2011 Director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins, at the University of Edinburgh.


Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1943, he completed his Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University in 1973. His first academic appointment was at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he taught from 1975 to 1978. Prior to moving to Canada in 1975, he pastored a church in Chicago’s most Jewish suburb, Skokie, Illinois. Thereafter he moved to the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where he was promoted to full Professor in 1988 and taught until 1996. During his time there, he established the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities and served as the initial Director from 1990 to 1992. Shortly after his appointment at the University of Edinburgh, he established the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins, which focuses on Christianity in the first three centuries.

He made significant advances in understanding Jewish Monotheism and early Christian devotion to Jesus. He was an authority on the Gospels (esp. Gospel of Mark), the Apostle Paul, Early Christology, the Jewish Background of the New Testament, and New Testament Textual Criticism. He was perhaps most well known for his studies on the early emergence of a devotion to Jesus expressed in beliefs about Jesus sharing God’s glory, and in a “devotional pattern” in which Jesus features prominently. Hurtado argued that this Jesus-devotion comprises a novel “mutation” in ancient Jewish monotheistic practice. In his later publications, he also urged greater awareness of the historical value of earliest Christian manuscripts as key physical artifacts of early Christianity, drawing attention to such phenomena as the nomina sacra (distinctive abbreviated forms of certain Greek words, e.g., Theos, Iesous, Kyrios, Christos), the Christian preference for the codex book form, and a number of other features.

He was elected a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in 1984 and received the Rh Institute Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship and Research in the Humanities in 1986. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008, and President of the British New Testament Society from 2009 to 2012. He won research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the British Academy, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). He gave invited lectures in many universities in the UK and other countries and was a Visiting Fellow at Macquarie University in Australia in 2005.

The School of Divinity announced that Hurtado had died in his sleep on November 25, 2019.


The Earliest Christian Artifacts The Earliest Christian Artifacts The Earliest Christian Artifacts The Earliest Christian Artifacts

as Editor

  • ———, ed. (2006). The Freer Biblical Manuscripts: fresh studies of an American treasure trove. Text-Critical Studies. 6
  • ———; Owen, Paul L., eds. (2011). ‘Who is this son of man?’ the latest scholarship on a puzzling expression of the historical Jesus. Library of New Testament studies. 390. London & New York: T & T Clark.

Articles and Chapters

  • ——— (1997). “Greco-Roman Textuality and the Gospel of Mark: A Critical Assessment of Werner Kelber’s The Oral and the Written Gospel”. Bulletin for Biblical Research. 7: 91–106.
  • ——— (1999). “New Testament Studies at the Turn of the Millennium: Questions for the Discipline”. Scottish Journal of Theology. 52 (2): 158–178.
  • ——— (2003). “Homage to the Historical Jesus and Early Christian Devotion”. Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. 1 (2): 131–46.

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