Monday, August 06, 2007

Quickie Comment: The Meaning of Jesus

Authors: Marcus J. Borg & N.T. Wright
Publisher: HarperOne
ISBN-10: 0060608765
ISBN-13: 978-0060608767

Borg and Wright are two of the leading contemporary scholars engaged in studying the life, ministry, message and meaning of Jesus Christ. Both men are outstanding scholars and fine writers. This book contains their dialog about such issues as Jesus' humanity and divinity, the historicity and significance of his deeds and teachings, the historicity and meaning of his death and resurrection, the meaning of "second-coming" doctrines and the mission of the Christian Church in the 21st century.

Each section of the book is divided into two chapters written by each of the authors. The authors lay out their points of view and frequently identify points at which they agree with and differ from each other. Borg, a member of the Jesus Seminar, generally takes more liberal positions than Wright. It is likely that most evangelical Christians will find themselves agreeing with Wright's more orthodox positions rather than Borg's. Nevertheless, Wright throws some curveballs that may make conservative Christians wince. One example is his view of the significance, or lack thereof, of the Christmas narratives and the Virgin Birth (which should probably be called the Virgin Conception) doctrine. Wright may be the more conservative participant in this dialog, but it is simplistic to distinguish his views as merely "conservative" and Borg's as merely "liberal." The positions of both men are far more nuanced than such labels can convey. Having said that, Borg's views of both Jesus' conception and his resurrection may well scandalize conservative Christians. While Wright throws effective curveballs, Borg's knuckeballs are truly wonders to behold.

In spite of their significant theological and interpretive differences, Borg and Wright have been friends for well over two decades. Their mutual respect is displayed throughout the book and their critiques of each other's views are always delivered courteously. Throughout the book they offer a fine example of how to conduct substantive dialog without rancor. This book, which should be a welcome addition to the vast literature of Jesus studies, gives Christians from the full spectrum of faith interesting insights to ponder.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll get a copy and read it.