Baker Academic

Friday, December 13, 2019

Larry Hurtado Scholarship Fund at the University of Edinburgh

Professor Larry Hurtado PhD Scholarship Fund

Larry devoted his life to building up the study of New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh, and many PhD students from all over the world have benefited from his friendship and guidance. In an effort to remember Larry's legacy, and even to build on it in a small way, we are delighted to announce the establishment of a new scholarship fund in honour of Larry. It will be known as the Professor Larry Hurtado Scholarship and will
support a PhD candidate at the School of Divinity working in the area of Christian Origins. We would very much value your support in this venture.

To give online go here.

Alumni and friends who are taxpayers in the USA can support the University through the University of Edinburgh USA Development Trust here

Tributes to Professor Hurtado can be found here.

Monday, December 2, 2019

In Memory of Larry W. Hurtado—Chris Keith

My friend and mentor, Larry W. Hurtado, passed from this life on Monday, November 25. It was Monday night of the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego, CA. Somehow it was fitting that Larry departed while the rest of us were at SBL. Larry loved SBL and was always in top form at receptions, recalling the events of the day, making introductions, and generally holding court. I heard about his death as soon as I entered the T&T Clark reception; it was something of a silver lining to a terribly dark cloud to receive the news while surrounded by so many of his former Edinburgh students and colleagues. We raised more than one pint in his honor that night and I think he would have liked that. I had just texted Larry on Saturday night from another reception, sending him a picture of me and Paul Middleton, another of his former students, letting him know that he was missed. His text back was ominous, telling me he would soon send an email update on his health and that it looked like it was the end. I received the email on Sunday morning in my hotel room and exchanged some further emails about plans for his library. That was last time I heard from him.

It’s hard to put into words Larry’s impact on me and his other students. Others have written eloquent tributes that have focused upon his contributions to scholarship, his faith, and devotion to his wife, Shannon. All that is true and deserving of recognition, but I want to mention also some other matters. Larry was, in wonderful ways, a hard person to categorize. He was a Missourian and Pentecostal pastor who moved away from both but never quite left either altogether. American evangelicals loved Larry because of his arguments for early high Christology and flocked to study with him, but he was not nearly as conservative as many thought he was and did not think that early Jesus followers’ Christology was necessarily “true” because it was “early” or “high.”  Theological truth was another category for him, and he was adamant that no one was going to come to Edinburgh and argue their presuppositions.

In some ways he was a throwback historical critic who really did fit entirely within the British academic scene rather than the American one. Larry loved a pint, a pipe, and cursing. He was a ferocious champion for his students but also a harsh critic. He suffered no fools in print or in his office, and handed out few compliments. Once you finally received a compliment from him, you felt as if you’d climbed a mountain and put a flag in the top. At the same time, he was also genuinely warm, funny, and always had an open office door. He took great pride in having brought back Edinburgh’s New Testament program and great pride in his former students.

I cherish many conversations with him where he challenged me, corrected me, encouraged me, and congratulated me, and have not time to recount them all here. Instead, I pass along the most Hurtado-esque story I can think of, one that has already gone down in SBL lore.

Larry’s The Earliest Christian Artifacts once received a panel review at SBL. It was a packed room. Bart Ehrman took Larry to task for doing “theology masked as history.”  The offending matter was that Larry had labelled some of the papyri in his index with the phrase “New Testament” even though there was no such thing as the “New Testament” in the period to which those papyri were dated. Bart was right in the criticism. Larry fought for a bit, but eventually threw his hands up in the air and said, “Well, fuck it! I am a Christian.”

I saw Larry’s face several times when this story was recounted in his presence. I swear he took as much pleasure in the F-bomb as he did in the confession.  That was Larry W. Hurtado.