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The Meaning Of Jesus [Paperback]

Marcus J Borg
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 23 2007 Plus

Was Jesus born of a virgin? Did he know he was the Messiah? Was he bodily resurrected from the dead? Did he intentionally die to redeem humankind? Was Jesus God? Two leading Jesus scholars with widely divergent views go right to the heart of these questions and others, presenting the opposing visions of Jesus that shape our faith today.

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From Amazon

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions is a theological remix of the old Cole Porter song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." In alternating chapters, the (mostly) liberal Marcus J. Borg and the (mostly) conservative N.T. Wright consider the major questions of the historical-Jesus debate that has dominated biblical studies in the 1990s. Borg and Wright agree that Jesus was the Christian messiah and preached the Kingdom of God, but they disagree about the Virgin birth, the purpose of Jesus' death, the issue of his bodily resurrection, and the question of his divinity. The Ping-Pong structure of this book and the fastidious politeness with which the authors treat one another sometimes give The Meaning of Jesus a tomato/tomahto, potato/potahto bounciness, but the project is nevertheless worthy: this is a simple, clear orientation to some of the most important biblical questions of our time, and a record of a lively and loving friendship between two of the best Christian scholars alive. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this valuable book, historical Jesus scholars Bog (Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time) and Wright (Jesus and the Victory of God) engage in a lively debate on the significance of historical Jesus research for the Christian faith. Each of the seven sections of the book contains alternating chapters by the two authors. For example, in a section called "How Do We Know About Jesus?" Borg argues that the ways people "see" Jesus are determined by the critical lenses and methods they use to look at the sources, while Wright claims that we "know" Jesus as a result of a dialogue between faith and history. In similar fashion, Borg and Wright exchange remarks on topics ranging from the Virgin Birth and "Was Jesus God?" to the crucifixion, the resurrection and the Second Coming. Borg's conclusions about the historical Jesus arise out of his conviction that the Gospels are not historical reports that can be factually verified but documents in which history is "metaphorized" to reveal symbolic meanings about Jesus' life. Wright, on the other hand, argues that a historical reading of the Gospels supports a Christian's "faith-knowledge" of Jesus. This is a splendid introduction to contemporary conversations about the historical Jesus as well as an excellent primer on New Testament Christology for general readers.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Start to a Deeper Understanding June 4 2004
Most people I know who consider themselves Christians follow the narrow path outlined to them in the churches of their youth. They reject the ambiguous nature of much of the Bible and believe those interpretations different from their own belong to the foolish, the wicked and the damned. If this arrogant and naive form of worship appeals to you, then you probably have no interest in a book like "The Meaning of Jesus". However, if you are interested in exposing yourself to how different people view the meaning of Jesus' life and in turn developing a deeper understanding of him for yourself, then there is no better book to begin your search.
In alternating chapters, Borg and Wright discuss the important debated issues of Christianity. They discuss such subjects as the virgin birth, the resurrection and the important question of whether Jesus actually believed he was the messiah. They must have seen early drafts of the other's sections, because they also make comments on points made by the other side. Wright is a traditionalist, or what I like to call a "John 3:16 Christian." He believes the meaning of Jesus' life is as the savior who died for the sins of the world. Borg, on the other hand, is a follower of Jesus, the man. He believes less in the elements of traditional Christianity that seem supernatural to non-believers, focusing instead on the lessons of Christ in the first three gospels (which is largely without references to Christ as the son of God).
A lesson is found in this book, a lesson that if learned by the rest of the world would make it a much better place. The two men disagree on many fundamental questions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong work on a fascinating subject Sept. 24 2003
By Ms Diva
I am not a theologian, and as such, I can't review or evaluate this book on that level. I am a Christian who was raised in the Anglican Church, and I've always been fascinated by questions of Biblical inerrancy. I approached this book as someone who clearly believes in Jesus as Son of God and Saviour, yet who is open to different ways of approaching the Bible.
Borg and Wright both make well written, clear arguments to explain their views around Christ both as a spiritual and historical figure. The authors addressed all the key questions about Jesus, and they didn't try to force the reader into accepting one point of view or the other; the book seemed to be meant to get people thinking and exploring these issues. Any book that can take such complex matters and create a book that is not dry or textbook-like should be applauded.
I thought the scholarship on both sides was sound, although both relied a bit more on their own previous works than I would have liked. A bibliography/list of works cited to go along with the notes would have been more appropriate. I thought the layout was a bit annoying - I'd have preferred a dialogue set up for each question, so that I could read the authors' differing views side by side, and it would've been easier to be clear on where they agreed and disagreed. As it was, I found myself going back and forth to see what each was saying on a particular subject.
This book may present a challenge to readers who have made up their minds about Jesus' identity either way. As someone who does have faith, I found it a good exercise to read something that asked me to set aside my beliefs, question, and be open to new possibilities/interpretations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're going to buy one book... Jan. 29 2004
...on the historical Jesus debate, this should be it.
I've used this book in two of my seminary classes so far. It's rich in good scholarship, and both of these gentlemen are well respected in the academic world, but it doesn't get bogged down in technical language, so the lay person can still understand it easily.
The idea of alternating chapters with the two scholars works perfectly, and they alternate who gets the first word and the last word on each topic, as well. I often found myself agreeing with one of the authors as I read his chapter, only to find myself agreeing even more with the other author in the very next chapter! Ultimately, I believe that neither side has the Truth completely figured out, and it will be much of this "give-and-take" that gets us closer to the heart of Christianity.
I know that many people (myself included) believe that much of the truth of Christianity hinges on the resurrection, and both Borg and Wright do superb jobs in stating their opinions and arguments on that topic. The final topic, "Jesus and the Christian Life," serves remarkably well in tying everything together, as each author presents what meaning they find in their beliefs about Jesus. No matter what we believe about Jesus, if our beliefs don't inspire us to a changed, transformed life, then they are, in the end, worthless. Both Borg and Wright exhibit changed lives as a result of their experience with Christ.
It is so beautiful how two friends with two (almost) opposite viewpoints can have such an honest, open discussion about a topic that is all too often very aggressive from both sides. Clearly, this is an issue that has important ramifications for those within and without the church, and, as such, it is crucial for both sides to begin being honest with each other.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus never existed
This book might be an interesting read for sci-fi fans, but it's fatally flawed as history because Jesus never existed. Read more
Published on July 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Paradigm for Christian Scholarship
The Meaning of Jesus offers not only excellent scholarship, but a refreshing spirit of unity on a decisive issue. Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by Josh Gribble
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Debate, Not Just For Clergy
Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright (Tom) not only explore the territories raised by the fundamentalist/modernist controversies at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries,... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2002 by Barnabus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to great minds, bad debate format
I enjoy the concept of having these two great minds (Wright and Borg) discuss the differences and similiarities in an open format, this does not happen in this book. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2002 by Sam Simpson IV
1.0 out of 5 stars When someone has a lack of faith, write excuses..
Why we need to get our faith from this kind of books?
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Are we hearing the word of Christ here? Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2002 by Guxt
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Views on Jesus: What Kind of Christ is He?
N.T. Wright, formerly of Oxford University and Marcus Borg of Oregon University enter into a very thoughtful discussion on Jesus Christ. This book is special for several reasons. Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2002 by K.H.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent discussion.
I enjoyed the book tremendously. I am a Christian who also wants to be intellectually honest in my beliefs. Read more
Published on March 6 2002 by Kerry Sullivan
5.0 out of 5 stars Using Jesus As A Lens
I read this book with a predetermined bias in favor of Borg's point of view. Borg sees the Christian life as an opportunity to have a deep relationship with God as shown in Jesus... Read more
Published on Dec 24 2001 by Patrick Doherty
4.0 out of 5 stars Borg Wins The Debate
This book presents an interesting debate between two men who have different views of the truth about Jesus. Read more
Published on Dec 24 2001 by Rosemary Brunschwyler
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just A Readable Introduction to the Jesus Debate
Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright have written more than just an introduction or a summary to the Historical Jesus Debate. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2001 by Ryan
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