A concise presentation, August 3, 2002
John Rice (Milwaukee, WI USA)
Marcus Borg explores the spirit, culture and the life of the early Christian community. He writes that Jesus came to proclaim the kingdom of compassion as contrasted to the kingdom of holiness. His aphorisms, parables and actions as seen in the New Testament underscore this proclamation.
Borg's treatment of culture is one of the main features of this book. He explains cultures in transition, in conflict with each other. He sees Jesus as a prophet, sage and miracle worker, but most importantly as a leader of a reform movement with Judaism. Borg's Jesus reflects on the culture of holiness and sees how it creates unconscionable burdens for people. The son of God proclaims that his father does not demand holiness, but compassion. And in an important way compassion is more difficult than holiness, as holiness tends to be juridical. Compassion challenges people and their societies more fundamentally.
Part 1 of the book concerns the life of the Spirit as seen in the life of Jesus. Part 2 deals with Jesus and his culture. In this section Borg treats of the various ways Jesus is seen: as sage, prophet, reform movement leader. As he writes Borg tens to be quantitative. He breaks things down into compartments in order for the reader to understand a concept by its parts. It is easy to underline statements in this book.
While Borg does not seem to present new material, he utilizes research and explains it in ways that do not have the constant citing that other scholars apply. There are notes from each chapter, with annotations that explain more fully. Borg's style makes an easier read.
July 10, 2003
M. D. Cook "Mr Matto" (Nebraska USA)
This is another book by Borg that I would never purchase on my own. Borg is a proud member of the Jesus Movement and it appears that their main goal is to discredit the Jesus of the Bible and remake Him in the mold of one of many spiritual people throughout history.