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Meaning of Jesus, The Paperback – March 22, 2000

4.3 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus by James Martin
"Seven Last Words" by James Martin
Best-selling author Father James Martin offers a series of meditations on the seven sayings Jesus made from the cross. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 Reprint edition (March 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060608765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060608767
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marcus J. Borg is professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, where he held the Hundere Chair in Religion and Culture, and author of the New York Times bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, The Last Week, and Jesus. He was an active member of the Jesus Seminar when it focused on the historical Jesus and he has been chair of the historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book brought a lump to my throat. What rare respect. I have read many "Jesus books" and I am tired of all the biting criticism of opposing vews. Here we have a book that presents two very different views without rancor. It is so handy to have these views presented in a single volume. I am surprised and extremely pleased to see that two Christians with such different views of Jesus are good friends and respect the other's views. Borg and Wright have had many personal discussions with one another, so each is very familiar with the other's arguments. Bravo to both of them. I especially liked the following two quotations: By Wright: "And the way to solve all such questions, whether to do with Jesus or to do with the sources, is once more the scientific method of hypothesis and verification." By Borg: "My point is not to deny an afterlife. But it wasn't central to Jesus' teaching. The vision of the Christian life that flows out of taking him seriously is about a relationship with the Spirit of God that transforms our lives in the present, not about a reward that only comes later." THIS IS THE IDEAL WAY TO DEBATE SUCH ISSUES. Why can't other scholars show similar respect for opposing views?
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the book tremendously. I am a Christian who also wants to be intellectually honest in my beliefs. To me, it was refreshing to see two devoted Christians with significantly different views of the historical Jesus engaged in respectful dialogue in which neither acuses the other of heresy.
This book presents competing views of the historical Jesus by two writers the editors label as "the leading liberal and sonservative Jesus scholars." That might be a bit overbilled, since other scholars such as Meier, Sanders and Crossan come at least as readily to mind. But Wright and Borg are excellent.
The "Liberal" and "Conservative" labels are also a bit overdone. Both scholars accept the discipline of rigorous critical scholarship and, again, both are committed Christians-- so they are not so far apart as these labels might imply. It's not as if a Fundamentalist and an Agnostic are going at each other. But these complaints are with the billing for the book and not for the book itself, which I found excellent.
Wright, the conservative, sees Jesus as a prophet inaugurating the Kingdom of God who indicated at least in a cryptic way that he was the Messiah of God. He sees the bodily ressurection and the empty tomb as historical events that are foundational for the Christian faith.
Borg, the liberal, views Jesus as a social prophet and a healer, a man who called people to a new way of seeing and a new way of living. For him, whether the tomb was empty or not is irrelevent. He believes the Messianic claims contained in the New Testament come from the early Church rather than the historical Jesus. Nevertheless, he sees Jesus as the image of the invisible God.
I recommend this book for anyone sympathetic to Christianity who is sincerely interested in the Historical Jesus debate.
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Format: Hardcover
Let's face it, there are loads of Jesus books out there. For one who wants to begin with taking a look at real scholarship and not metaphysical fairy tales about Jesus, it's hard to find a good place to start. Before this book was published, the best introduction was The Jesus Quest by Ben Witherington III, which looked @ the many modern scholars of Jesus scholarship. Its weakness was that it summarized views in Witherington's words which were often harshly critical because of his evangelical bias. Borg is the 'liberal' and is a powerful representative for the camp. Wright is the most exciting scholar right now who powerfully supports and challenges orthodoxy simultaneously. Wright is the superior scholar here in my opinion, but the great thing about the book is that you can decide for yourselves looking at the authors' own writings.
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By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
'The Meaning of Jesus' has seemed to take a new approach in its genre. This is most likely a result of the two mens friendship. It can be read by anyone without too much knowledge of the historical Jesus. NT Wright does use some intellectual language which might be frightening to some, but his point is not missed. Marcus Borg writes in plain old english which makes for easy reading without sacrificing to much meaningful content. This book is definitly an introduction and nothing written in it is new. It does cover many issues on several different topics. I'd reccomend this book to anyone who is casually interested in the case for the historical Jesus. I think you'll find it a very rewarding read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not geared toward those who are already familiar with the issues involved in the debate over who Jesus of Nazareth really was. Instead, it was written to introduce people to the discussion and give a general representation of the two opposing perspectives.
N.T. Wright presents the conservative view, which means that he believes the gospels give us generally reliable history, that Jesus made outrageous claims to divinity, performed miracles, rose from the dead, and is indeed divine as taught by traditional Christianity. Marcus Borg gives the liberal side. He believes the gospels contain far more myth than history, that Jesus did not claim anything out of the ordinary in regards to a unique relationship to God, and that he did not physically rise from the dead.
Neither writer is really able to give detailed arguments for their views because of the large amount of ground they attempt to cover in this book. I did like the book's format. Each section addressed a specific topic (reliability of gospels, divinity claims, etc.), with each writer devoting a chapter to the subject at hand. They then rotated which writer was first for each topic. This prevented one person from always getting the last word.
If you're already familiar with the historical Jesus debate, then I'd give it two stars (and recommend passing on this one). However, if you're new to the issue I'd say its worthy of four stars and suggest it as a good introduction to a fascinating debate.
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