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International Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus (1988)

13-17 June 1998
St. Mary's College
University of St Andrews



Dr. James R. Davila (Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies, University of St. Andrews)
Professor Carey Newman (Research Professor of New Testament, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
Funded by the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins; by St. Mary's College; and by the Kerygma Adult Sunday School Class at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.



This conference gathered a team of scholars from around the world to explore the origins of christology in the first century and its relation to Jewish monotheism. Attention was also given to relevant biblical, Jewish, and Greco-Roman traditions in the Persian and Hellenistic/Roman periods in order to gain a better understanding of the cultural background in which early Christianity grappled with the meaning of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In preparation for the conference, Dr. Davila taught the course Divine Mediator Figures in the Biblical World, which examined traditions in the biblical and parabiblical literature of approximately the Second Temple period about divine, divinized, and exalted figures who served as mediators between God and human beings, such as Michael, Enoch, Solomon, and the Sibyl. The aim of the module was to increase our understanding of the cultural matrix that gave rise to the veneration of Jesus and to New Testament christology. The last seminar focused on Jesus as a divine mediator. The module was taught at St. Mary's College alongside an international discussion list on the Internet which had up to 214 subscribers from at least 21 countries. (For more details see the Divine Mediator Figures web page.)

People began arriving for the conference on Friday, 12 June, and almost everyone was here by Saturday evening. Altogether we had 31 participants from outside St. Andrews, as well as a dozen or so attenders from St. Mary's College. Attendees came from Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, the United States, Israel, Germany, and Norway. The grim weather of the first half of June smiled on us and, apart from a few rainy patches, we had a good bit of sunshine.

The papers, responses, and discussions were of a very high quality and I can't imagine being more pleased with how the conference came out. An extraordinarily wide range of views was represented and a number of specialists in the area met in person for the first time. Nevertheless, discussion was always courteous and focused. Professor Struther Arnott, the Principal of the University of St. Andrews, suggested to us in his address, at the opening reception on Saturday night, that a conference was worthwhile if one comes away with one important new insight. For me, one insight was that the priestly office of the king in preexilic Jerusalem is very important for understanding the development of early christological doctrine after Jesus. Others indicated to me that they too had new ideas to think about.

Summaries of the seminar papers, responses, and short papers are given below. All paper summaries are by the authors. Responses are summarized by Dr. Davila if they end with (JRD); otherwise the summary is by the respondent.

You can also have a conference program with paper abstracts and response summaries sent to you by e-mail. Send the following case-sensitive messages to

get mediators jesus.conference.1
get mediators jesus.conference.2
get mediators jesus.conference.3
get mediators jesus.conference.4

Most of the conference papers have been published in The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism. Papers from the St. Andrews Conference on the Historical Origins of the Worship of Jesus , edited by Carey C. Newman, James R. Davila, and Gladys S. Lewis, (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999)

James R. Davila
Lecturer in Early Jewish Studies




  • Anders Aschim, "Melchizedek and Jesus"
  • David Capes, "Imitatio Christi and the Early Worship of Jesus"
  • Margaret Daly-Denton, "Singing Hymns to Christ as to a God (Cf. Pliny Ep. X,96)"
  • Kevin Ellis, "Monotheism, Christology, and Worship: Their Place in the Myth of the Partings of the Ways"
  • Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Louis, "The Image of God in Man: Israelite Aniconism and Incarnation within the Old Testament"
  • Robert G. Hall, "Astonishment in the Firmament: The Worship of Jesus and Soteriology in Ignatius and the Ascension of Isaiah"
  • Darrell D. Hannah, "Jesus Christ: Recipient of Worship and Heavenly High Priest"
  • Todd E. Klutz, "The Grammar of Exorcism in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Some Cosmological, Semantic, and Pragmatic Reflections on How Exorcistic Prowess Contributed to the Worship of Jesus"
  • Jeffrey Peterson, "Exegesis and Exaltation in 1 Corinthians 15"
  • Kenneth Schenck, "'Through an Eternal Spirit' (Heb. 9:14): Did Alexandrian Presuppositions Facilitate the Evolution of Early Christology?"

Last updated 6th January, 2000

Dr James R Davila (

Contact details

St Mary's College
The School of Divinity
University of St Andrews
South Street
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9JU
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462850
Fax: +44 (0)1334 462852