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Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith [Paperback]

Marcus J. Borg
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 2 1995

Of the many recent books on the historical Jesus, none has explored what the latest biblical scholarship means for personal faith. Now, in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg addresses the yearnings of those who want a fully contemporary faith that welcomes rather than oppresses our critical intelligence and openness to the best of historical scholarship. Borg shows how a rigorous examination of historical findings can lead to a new faith in Christ, one that is critical and, at the same time, sustaining.

"Believing in Jesus does not mean believing doctrines about him," Borg writes. "Rather, it means to give one's heart, one's self at its deepest level, to . . . the living Lord."

Drawing on his own journey from a naive, unquestioning belief in Christ through collegiate skepticism to a mature and contemporary Christian faith, Borg illustrates how an understanding of the historical Jesus can actually lead to a more authentic Christian life--one not rooted in creeds or dogma, but in a life of spiritual challenge, compassion, and community.

In straightforward, accessible prose, Borg looks at the major findings of modern Jesus scholarship from the perspective of faith, bringing alive the many levels of Jesus' character: spirit person, teacher of alternative wisdom, social prophet, and movement founder. He also reexamines the major stories of the Old Testament vital to an authentic understanding of Jesus, showing how an enriched understanding of these stories can uncover new truths and new pathways to faith.

For questioning believers, doubters, and reluctant unbelievers alike, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time frees our understanding of Jesus' life and message from popular misconceptions and outlines the way to a sound and contemporary faith: "For ultimately, Jesus is not simply a figure of the past, but a figure of the present. Meeting that Jesus--the living one who comes to us even now--will be like meeting Jesus again for the first time."

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From Amazon

All Christianity is, to some extent, idolatrous. Christian worship is a response to a worshiper's image of Jesus, and all images of Jesus fall short of his reality--in the same way that all biographies and portraits fail to depict a whole person. In Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, New Testament scholar Marcus Borg attempts to understand how popular images of Jesus connect Christians to their savior and isolate them from him. Borg writes about his own evolving ideas of who Jesus was, considers the scholarly and popular religious evolution of Jesus' public image, and investigates with special care the effects of Historical Jesus research on contemporary images of Jesus. Meeting Jesus Again is written in an affable, gracious, and unflinchingly honest voice. Borg's description of his own faith particularly exemplifies these qualities, and gives the reader a simultaneously safe and unsettling new perspective on the peasant from Galilee: "[T]he central issue of the Christian life is not believing in God or believing in the Bible," he writes. "Rather, the Christian life is about entering into a relationship with that to which the Christian tradition points, which may be spoken of as God, the risen, living Christ, or the Spirit. And a Christian is one who lives out his or her relationship to God within the framework of the Christian tradition." --Michael Joseph Gross

From Library Journal

Borg (religion and culture, Oregon State Univ.) provides an account of contemporary Jesus scholarship--told in simple language for lay readers--and of his personal struggle to find authentic, mature faith. Here, the historical pre-Easter Jesus and the post-Easter Jesus (whom other writers have referred to as the Christ of faith), or the Jesus revealed by scholarship and the Jesus of Christian tradition are brought together as Borg articulates his own struggle from doubt to faith. His struggle is grounded in contemporary scholarship, personal experience, and "an understanding of the Christian life as a relationship to the Spirit of God--a relationship that involves one in a journey of transformation." Highly recommended.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Come home, Dr. Borg Feb. 24 2004
Marcus Borg is the most sensible and sympathetic of the Jesus Seminar scholars I have read. I found many worthwhile insights in this book: the way he links the Gospels and Paul's teaching on grace (though Jesus and Paul also call us to radical moral purity, and Borg sometimes makes meaning slave to etymology), his discussion of meta-narratives, parables, and aphorisms, and the contrast between "conventional wisdom" and "unconventional" wisdom, for example.
But the criteria by which Borg judges whether or not a given teaching really is from Jesus are shaky. Does the "Gospel" of Thomas have anything of value to say about the life of Jesus? I doubt it. Why does Borg assume that only material from the Christian "tradition" before 60 A.D. can be trusted? If I were to write about the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, at a chronological distance equivalent to 93 AD, I could easily find eyewitnesses. Why should it have been so much harder for the Gospel writers in 70 AD?
Borg's chief weakness may be his habit of working alternatives into what look like false dichotomies, or trichotomies: holiness versus compassion, individual versus political virtue, "belief" versus "action" versus "becoming." (Why not all three? "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!") Borg's method of exegesis is often to exagerrate one element in Jesus' teaching, then make that a principle by which to exclude other elements.
Borg identifies JS pronouncements with the "scholarly consensus." But many first rank scholars (Wright, Hays, Johnson, Meier, Jenkins, and others) find the JS way of working quite flawed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again Jan. 31 2000
What a niggling little tome! I laughed out loud when on p. 30, Borg makes the oberservation that "Jesus' verbal gifts were remarkable." How does Borg know this? Was he there? It's painfully obvious Borg depends upon the very apostolic tradition he tears apart. In the end, he does seem to support the Christ of Faith, but by then I found myself wondering why he wrote this book in the first place. One star for effort.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I gained much from reading this book! March 11 2004
By A Customer
I am glad I read this book. I think it has helped to redirect my search for God and to help me rebuild my faith in Him, so that I move from a fearful relationship with an angry Supreme Master to one with a loving Supreme Parent.
I first read the Bible cover-to-cover on my own as a youngster. This was probably not a good thing, as I mostly came away with an impression of an Angry God. And I certainly was in no position to understand at the tender age of 11 the cultural background of the world of the Hebrews or Jesus.
The trouble is that in some ways reading about the life of Christ is a bit like reading a mystery. Sure you can read the book again, but you already know whodunit the next time you go back to it, and having that knowledge changes the way you see things from then on. "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" has clarified for me the difference between pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus. Before this when I reread the Gospels and looked over what Jesus said or did prior to his death and resurrection, I looked at it as though He was the post-Easter Godly Jesus the entire time, that He was always God right from the get-go. Now I am looking at Him more in the sense of His humanity as it was recorded in the first 3 gospels. When I stop to think about it, I expect He was a pretty normal kid, and I am not sure that He really saw Himself as God as that point waiting around to be worshipped. Rather I do think He was very much a man constantly in touch with His Father, so I am giving more consideration to the example He set where he showed me how to live and how to be in touch with the Father all the time. (Or at least try to be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A personal review from a theological moderate Oct. 24 2003
By A Customer
My friends and I like to read and discuss theological books for kicks. During our bargain hunting for "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time," one friend was verbally accosted by the uncompassionate owner of a local store when inquiring about Borg's book. "We don't carry writers here who are going to burn in hell!" was the message given to my friend. Ugggghhh?? Okay. Thanks. (Not surprisingly, the store was officially boycotted in our group.)
Borg's book is insightful. I can't say for sure whether my friends share similar sentiments, but we all agree that the book provides for great discussion. People who aren't afraid to think for themselves theologically would do well to read this book, especially within the company of insightful friends.
The popular image of Jesus is of great significance to me and remains so even after reading this book. Like Borg, I underwent a faith crisis when studying religion through an academic lens that led me to places I thought I would never go--unbelief and doubt. But as someone who considers himself a theological fence-straddler between conservative and liberal camps, I think Borg provides interpretations that both Jesus of History and Christ of Faith followers can enjoy.
For example, Borg's take on Jesus as a compassionate man who was greatly concerned about those ostracized by the purity system in first century Palestine, calls for a reexamination of his teachings about serving social outcasts and how those reflections relate to today's situation. Borg points out that many who believe in the popular image of Jesus are too concentrated on belief systems and fail to grasp his alternative wisdom and life example of compassion.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful author.
A penetrating look at who Jesus really was and what he espoused. Especially good for readers of Marcus Borg and John Spong.
Published 7 months ago by Leslie Winston
4.0 out of 5 stars You Won't Be Disappointed
Borg introduces you to a Jesus that was a compassionate, exceptionally bright and politically astute, and social activist with rapier wit. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Alan Strickland
5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting Jesus again for the first time
Most interesting.
Makes Jesus REAL.
Good adult reading.
I am a "roman" catholic very tired of the old stories, distress by the betrayal after Vatican... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2011 by Diane Martin
1.0 out of 5 stars product arrived but was different than purchased
I ordered a book that was supposed to be hard cover. It arrived in soft cover. I emailed the sender but over two days there was no response.
Published on Aug. 20 2009 by Dr. Rod D. Johnston
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is an amazing writer and a great spiritual presentation. Borg is a theologian and philosopher who has helped me bridge the gap between the Bible, Jesus and spirituality. Read more
Published on July 5 2006 by RPS
4.0 out of 5 stars one of the best of it's kind!
Finally a book that helps bridge the gap between the two worlds: Faith and history / science. Very impressive work!
Published on Jan. 6 2004 by NoDumbName
2.0 out of 5 stars Missed wide left....
I picked up this book anticipating a inspiring treatise on Christian faith. After finishing it, I am left with two indelible images. First, Mr. Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars A Catchy Title for a Pretty Good Book
When the book MEETING JESUS AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME was published in 1994, it caused quite a stir. The book was the product of Biblical scholar Marcus Borg, a member of "The Jesus... Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by Timothy Kearney
5.0 out of 5 stars The most readable introduction of recent Jesus research
Marcus Borg has been a moving force behind the "Jesus Seminar." He is in great demand as a speaker because he does such a wonderful job of writing and speaking clearly... Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by Rev. Wayne Bradley Robinson, Ph.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
I must say, I was a little bit disappointed with this book, not that it was bad, just that it didn't quite meet my expectations... until I read the last chapter. Wow! Read more
Published on June 24 2003 by Amazon Customer
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