Friday 14 November 2014



This is the title of our December book by Marcus J. Borg (author of The Heart of Christianity) and N.T. Wright (author of Simply Christian). The cover of the book describes it thus: 
The leading liberal and conservative Jesus scholars present the heart of the Historical Jesus debate.
There are eight sections to the book and in each the two authors are given a chapter each to present their fascinatingly contrasting visions. Thus Part I sets out the very basics of historical theology and asks How do we know about Jesus? with chapter 1 by Marcus Borg (Seeing Jesus: Sources, Lenses, and Method) and chapter 2 by Tom Wright (Knowing Jesus: Faith and History). 

It's unlikely that we will be able to do the book justice in one week's discussion and so for this first meeting on December 7th we will focus on those first two chapters and then go on to see how the two authors interpret the subject of Part V: Was Jesus God? There is a clue to their differing approaches in the title of their respective chapters:  Borg (ch 9) calls his Jesus and God, Wright (ch 10) sets out his stall in The Divinity of Jesus

Maybe in the month of December and a time of celebration (in theory) of the nativity we should have opted for Part VI The Birth of Jesus, but there will be many more occasions to tackle other topics in the book, not least Part IV which gets quotation marks for its title - presumably to keep everyone happy: "God raised Jesus from the dead".  More anon, I imagine. 

One review described the book as a "thorough and accessible scholarly exchange" and another as "a refreshingly respectful exchange". No doubt our discussion at Wychwood Library will be, as always, respectful if not particularly scholarly! 

Was Jesus God? The discussion at Wychwood Library on December 7th, from 7pm to 9pm (latest), will be based on the book by Marcus Borg and N T Wright The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, published by HarperOne (1999), focussing on Parts 1 and 5. As always, anyone is welcome to attend and contribute their own views and comments on the book. 


  1. Jill Greer comments:

    I go along with most of what Marcus Borg says.

    John's Gospel does seem to imply that Jesus claimed to be divine - but the earlier Gospels do not give this impression.

    The creeds which we say in church are 4th century and represent the belief of sections of the church at that time. I would like to draw your attention to the very early creed quoted in Philippians 2:

    "Let the same mind be in you, that was in Christ Jesus,
    who, though he was in the form of God
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
    but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
    And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death -
    even death on a cross.

    Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
    so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father."

    We tread on holy ground - but it seems to me that to say that Jesus is God (or that Mary is the mother of God) is a nonsense - and a dangerous nonsense because it leads to unnecessary conflict with both Jew and Muslim. The reality is more subtle - I believe that the ways of God are beyond human understanding and cannot be pinned down by words or definitions. I certainly believe that God was in Christ and was revealed to us in Christ.

  2. John Dominic Crossan has recently written a book called 'THE POWER OF PARABLE: How Fiction by Jesus became Fiction about Jesus'. The blurb says:
    In this perceptive and provocative new look at the Gospels, John Dominic Crossan begins by observing that the parabolic stories told by Jesus seem remarkably similar to the resurrection stories about Jesus. 'Were the latter intended as parables just as much as the former' he asks. Could it be that we have been reading parables, presuming them to be history, and misunderstanding both? In other words, could Jesus' use of parables have inspired the Gospel writers to create meaningful, metaphorical stories about Jesus to help them explain who he really was? 'A remarkable and important book for Christians and for all who seek to understand the Bible better. . .Crossan combines his customary literary and historical brilliance with fresh insights that illuminate not only the parables of Jesus but much of the Bible as a whole' Marcus J. Borg, author of Speaking Christian

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