Book Review: Larry Hurtado’s At the Origins of Christian Worship, Part One

the archives near Emmaus

If a Christian today had the ability to travel back in time and experience the rituals, sounds, and smells of a first-century Christian worship service, what might that experience reveal? What practices might they find familiar to their own contemporary worship context, and what rituals might seem strangely foreign? What ancient doctrinal motivations might resonate with the traveler? In At the Origins of Christian Worship, Larry Hurtado provides a relatively clear portrait of early Christian worship practices that not only informs readers about the past, but also attempts to build a sense of connection between the modern Church and the ancient one.

To begin his exploration of the early Church, Hurtado attempts to identify some broad characteristics of religious worship in general within the Greco-Roman first century. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of ancient religion was how ubiquitous and publicly noticeable it was. If our traveler managed to visit…

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