Friday, January 14, 2011

The binitarian shape of the NT

“...although Jesus is included uniquely in what we may call the 'devotional pattern' reflected in the NT writings, he is characteristically reverenced in connection with 'God.' Jesus is treated not as a second deity but as having a unique status with and from 'God.' This is unlike the pagan polytheistic pattern in which there are multiple deities, each with its own image, rites, sacred time, and often its own sacred space. Instead, in the early Christian circles reflected in the NT writings, the exclusivist worship of the one true God has this distinctive 'binitarian' shape, Jesus featuring uniquely along with 'God,' yet with a pronounced concern to assert a monotheistic stance and avoid multiplying deities.”—God in New Testament Theology, page 61

<idle musing>
This is a very important point that tends to get missed. The monotheistic emphasis is strong—but yet Jesus is worshiped as God! Hurtado has some very good stuff on this in his other books as well.
<idle musing>


Anonymous said...

I've only made the most cursory study of Binitarianism. Why is it important to remember that early Christianity was strongly Binitarian? I am not surprised that it took a while for the Church's understanding of God to grow. I hope that we are still open to growing in our understanding of God. It will take an eternity to know the eternal God.

Anxiously awaiting baby news from Renee and Joel!


jps said...


The importance that there is a binitarian theme in the NT is that some scholars would have us believe that the worship or Jesus as God but not a replacement for God was either a) a later development, not present in the NT texts or b) Jesus as another deity beside God in the normal polytheistic way.