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Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
By placing the books of the New Testament in the order they were written, Evolution of the Word invites readers to experience how early Christian thinking evolved over the eight decades during which the twenty-seven books were written. Borg uses the introductory section to offer a succinct overview of the historical approach that is commonplace in academic study and which guides his work. He then introduces each book with two to eight pages that provide data about the how he selected the most likely date the book was written, its historical context, and its significant content and themes. Borg follows the introductions with the biblical text from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

Those who seek to follow the way of Jesus will find their journey enriched by reading, pondering, and responding to Evolution of the Word. Whether Borg's historical approach is new and novel or the only known option and normative, actually reading the New Testament text as he presents it invites the reader to read the words as if reading them for the first time.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a big book, 593 pages, but over half of it is a reprint of scripture. After an introduction, Borg goes book-by-book through the New Testament, providing a few pages of overview for each, primarily discussing its historical context, and then presenting the Biblical text. Borg's contributions are a little sparse and offered without much argument, so if you're looking for exhaustive commentary, that's not his purpose.

Also, do not imagine that scholars have some kind of universal agreement about when each of the N.T. books were written! Borg humbly admits there is no consensus, and in places, admits his opinion differs from the majority. In general, Borg dates many of the books just a little later than I do. For example, he follows the recent trendy dating of Luke/Acts well into the second century, while I remain unconvinced and still date these two books around 85-95. And, of course, we won't agree on Revelation, since in my own book I rely heavily on a historical-critical interpretation to place its date right around the year 80 CE, which differs from almost every New Testament scholar.

But while there's no exact consensus, that's not really the point. The point of Borg's book is to portray how Christianity evolved in its earliest years, as evidenced in the writings we have in our Bible. Indeed, the New Testament itself is an evolutionary outgrowth of the Old Testament. Quite a bit of the discussion centers on Paul, and on the letters written in his name, as this is where the most serious change occurs over the span of the New Testament ... issues like the role of women in the church and of how to regard Christian slaves like Philemon.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but found few surprises, and the reading went fast since I didn't take time to reread all of the scripture.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have taken many Bible study classes over the years and so I was aware of the fact that Paul's letters were the earliest Christian writing available to us and the general chronological order of the four gospels. However reading them in order, along with Borg's very readable commentaries, was eye-opening. I was most impressed by what Paul did not say about Jesus and how the Christology and theology of the New Testament developed over the years from the earliest writings to the latest. I highly recommend this book for any layperson who is serious about Bible study.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
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At the (Baptist) bible school I once went to (and elsewhere) it's understood that the Bible is the `Word of God'. There are a lot of tortured explanations for how it came to be written. "Did men write it?" you might ask. And the Bible school staff would probably answer something like "...Well, yes and no. The spirit of God wrote it, or inspired men to write it (and by men they mean men, not the more vague reference to mankind)", so it's pretty much perfect and error free, just the way He would want it to be. Sure, this doesn't stretch credibility quite as far as say, Joseph Smith and a certain set of golden tablets, but you still have to wonder about that `no mistakes' bit. In any case, when Jesus was supposedly making the rounds on the preaching circuit, he didn't have a new testament. And when Paul was making the rounds, planting churches here and there, he didn't have a new testament either...in fact he didn't even have any of the Gospels, which is what this book by Borg makes pretty clear.
Borg hasn't come up with anything new here and his notes aren't exhaustive, so basically what you have is another printing of the New Testament. But reading the New Testament in chronological order ...I don't know, it kind of makes a profound difference...it emphasizes how the `Word of God' is a disparate collection of human documents ...makes you aware of historical context ...highlights how Jesus and his message have been interpreted over time, and suggests how that message may have changed from its origin.
I'm really enjoying this treatment so far.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have been savoring this book since I received it a few weeks ago. The Biblical part of it is familiar and comforting as in any Bible. Having the books and letters in the order in which they were written opens a landscape and context in which to read the familiar words. Also, having Borg's introductions gives historical and social information that helps open the readings to new interpretations and insights. I didn't think having the New Testament in chronological order could be as significant as it has become for me. But I find it has given me a new understanding of the rise of Christianity. Valuable book. I highly recommend it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Marcus Borg is one of the most thoughtful of the writers on the Bible today. His writings are accessible to laymen, yet gives us credit for having brains with which we THINK. If we were not thinking people we would not seek writings about the Word of God. Putting the books of the New Testament in the order they appeared to have been written does help immensely in forming a picture of how the Christian church developed. As a Sunday School teacher, it helps bring a sense of the history of the church to the classroom.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Borg's other books and loved them. This book wasn't that great. When I saw the preview for it before it was released, I was excited to see what he would be talking about. It was clocked at 500 some pages, which is large for his standard, since most of his books are in the 200's.

Then I picked it up at the library I work at and saw that ~80% of the book is just the NT re-printed with a page or two or three of his introductions or commentaries.

If you have read his previous books, I don't think you will get many new nuggets. I did like his point in the beginning of the book about the difference between letters and books. We call some of the texts in the Bible "The book of Revelations" and so on. Books, according to Borg, are written to audiences that the author does not know, which goes in the face of most Christians who think these books were written to Americans in 2012. Letters, on the other hand, are written to a specific group or someone.

In the end, it is worth breezing through but not reading start to finish or even owning. Many other commentaries are worth owning and even Borgs previous books cover much of what he addresses in this book in regards to dating and ordering of the NT.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As with all of Marcus Borg's work this is excellent. The commentary is precise and concise. Having the scriptures in chronological order helps one better see the evolving tradition. This approach opens a way to understanding how Christianity developed and to recognize what many questioning people have thought for a long time. Our tradition was not revealed in a flash of insight or divine intervention. It evolved in response to individuals and groups understanding and experience of the risen Christ as well as their desire for influence in the communities.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I already knew about this subject, but the context material in the book really added more information than I had ever known. As with all Borg's books, this is well written and interesting. Worth the cost and the read -- even the study with a group!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book, as all of Marcus' books, gives you much food for thought concerning the Bible, how it was written and possible ways to interprete the scripture. I find that this book was no exception. Of course it contains the "standard" Bible. Each chapter has a description concerning the writing of that book. Marcus is very open about when he is using "experts" and/or "Consesus" opinions. He also is open when he indicates that quite a bit of the origin is undetermined. It is a great book to add to one's collection that will aide in understanding the scriptures and man's relationship to God.
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