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The Controversial, Bestselling Account of What We Can Know About the Life of Jesus

Topics: New Testament Studies, Spirituality , The Bible, Jesus, Christianity, Gospel, Contemplative, and Provocative

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 6, 2009
ISBN: 9780061978241
List price: $8.99
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This is an important book to read in these days of fuzzy thinking about Christianity and with the doubt (per President Obama) that we Americans "do not consider ourselves a Christian nation." Borg writes about a political Jesus who calls us to live an unconventional life centered in God free from the bondage of wealth and pride. Jesus had a passion for God's Kingdom involving a transformation on earth with justice for all. That type of justice is the social form of compassion resulting in God's will for peace and plenty on earth. Personally, I see that message as a noble one for Christianity and the world in general. Are you listening, Mr. President?Borg's insights make Bible reading more relevant to today's world. He takes theology down to the level of the layperson who just wants a more meaningful life and deeper relationship with God. He advocates less doctrine and more following Jesus. This is a book to be reread and contemplated. It's the type of book of which I will glean new wisdom with each thoughtful reading. In the end, it made Jesus more real to me and allowed me to go deeper in my spiritual quest.read more
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Despite being a very dense book this overview of the historical Jesus is quite readable and extremely enjoyable. Borg goes through a lot of material but he has organized it such that you can easily go back and re-read chapters to refresh your memory. If you are looking for one book to start your historical Jesus studies I would heartily recommend this one.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Reading Crossan is both enlightening and depressing. He’s well-known in the historical Jesus school and has written numerous books for both the professional and layperson on what we can really know about the life and sayings of Jesus. For those who take the Bible literally, whatever version you’ve chosen to take literally, I’d say read this only if you’re willing to be challenged. For the rest, Crossan offers a detailed exegesis that will make your hair stand on end. In short, he sees the historical person as (1) an illiterate peasant teaching a type of radical social change at a time when the entrenched political and religious elites were stamping out such troublemakers brutally and without thought, sympathy, or delay; (2) likely killed for causing a scene in the crowded temple at Passover, when Jerusalem was at its busiest and Roman authorities were primed to put down any sign of disturbance; (3) left on the cross or the ground as carrion with no chance of burial, for which a special request would have had to be made and, as he points out, no one with the chops to make such a request would have cared and anyone who cared wouldn’t have had the contacts to make the request. Non-burial was considered the ultimate insult to the deceased and a deterrent to crime. The teachings themselves are distilled down to just a few, which are so far from the hierarchical church structure which developed that organized Christianity ends up in the same position to Jesus as all the other institutions he was trying to bring down. Crossan concludes that Jesus practiced, and taught, that the Kingdom of God can be here now only if people will 1) practice complete, open table-sharing and spiritual healing, without any care for status, class, wealth, physical condition, race, freedom, or any other division humans have invented over time; and 2) set down no roots where a hierarchy or center of power can be identified (and the reason he instructed his followers to leave anywhere after a day or two) so that the typical 1st century system of patronage (elites), brokerage (middlemen) and clients (everyone else) could not be set up. He didn’t want anyone to be the head of an organization. He wanted complete equality and sharing, which no institution can pull off by definition, let alone given human predilection for power, status and hoarding of wealth. One of the most fascinating points Crossan makes is about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. In her, Jesus found the only person, male or female, who actually listened when he talked about the death he expected and who recognized his need for burial preparation, knowing he’d never get it later. In an age when a couple of the major Christian organizations still won’t recognize women as equals in the church, isn’t it interesting to speculate on why that might be?This book is the layperson version of Crossan’s arguments. The more scholarly version is "The Historical Jesus".read more
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This is an important book to read in these days of fuzzy thinking about Christianity and with the doubt (per President Obama) that we Americans "do not consider ourselves a Christian nation." Borg writes about a political Jesus who calls us to live an unconventional life centered in God free from the bondage of wealth and pride. Jesus had a passion for God's Kingdom involving a transformation on earth with justice for all. That type of justice is the social form of compassion resulting in God's will for peace and plenty on earth. Personally, I see that message as a noble one for Christianity and the world in general. Are you listening, Mr. President?Borg's insights make Bible reading more relevant to today's world. He takes theology down to the level of the layperson who just wants a more meaningful life and deeper relationship with God. He advocates less doctrine and more following Jesus. This is a book to be reread and contemplated. It's the type of book of which I will glean new wisdom with each thoughtful reading. In the end, it made Jesus more real to me and allowed me to go deeper in my spiritual quest.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Despite being a very dense book this overview of the historical Jesus is quite readable and extremely enjoyable. Borg goes through a lot of material but he has organized it such that you can easily go back and re-read chapters to refresh your memory. If you are looking for one book to start your historical Jesus studies I would heartily recommend this one.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Reading Crossan is both enlightening and depressing. He’s well-known in the historical Jesus school and has written numerous books for both the professional and layperson on what we can really know about the life and sayings of Jesus. For those who take the Bible literally, whatever version you’ve chosen to take literally, I’d say read this only if you’re willing to be challenged. For the rest, Crossan offers a detailed exegesis that will make your hair stand on end. In short, he sees the historical person as (1) an illiterate peasant teaching a type of radical social change at a time when the entrenched political and religious elites were stamping out such troublemakers brutally and without thought, sympathy, or delay; (2) likely killed for causing a scene in the crowded temple at Passover, when Jerusalem was at its busiest and Roman authorities were primed to put down any sign of disturbance; (3) left on the cross or the ground as carrion with no chance of burial, for which a special request would have had to be made and, as he points out, no one with the chops to make such a request would have cared and anyone who cared wouldn’t have had the contacts to make the request. Non-burial was considered the ultimate insult to the deceased and a deterrent to crime. The teachings themselves are distilled down to just a few, which are so far from the hierarchical church structure which developed that organized Christianity ends up in the same position to Jesus as all the other institutions he was trying to bring down. Crossan concludes that Jesus practiced, and taught, that the Kingdom of God can be here now only if people will 1) practice complete, open table-sharing and spiritual healing, without any care for status, class, wealth, physical condition, race, freedom, or any other division humans have invented over time; and 2) set down no roots where a hierarchy or center of power can be identified (and the reason he instructed his followers to leave anywhere after a day or two) so that the typical 1st century system of patronage (elites), brokerage (middlemen) and clients (everyone else) could not be set up. He didn’t want anyone to be the head of an organization. He wanted complete equality and sharing, which no institution can pull off by definition, let alone given human predilection for power, status and hoarding of wealth. One of the most fascinating points Crossan makes is about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. In her, Jesus found the only person, male or female, who actually listened when he talked about the death he expected and who recognized his need for burial preparation, knowing he’d never get it later. In an age when a couple of the major Christian organizations still won’t recognize women as equals in the church, isn’t it interesting to speculate on why that might be?This book is the layperson version of Crossan’s arguments. The more scholarly version is "The Historical Jesus".
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting and insightful study of the New Testament and other relevant historical material regarding the identity of Jesus and the development of Early Christianity by one of leading scholars of the Jesus Seminar. A challenging book for those of us with a more conservative viewpoint.
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Crossan is one of the premier Jesus scholars of today, and this book is quintessential Crossan. It’s a condensed, recently reprinted, more readable version of his 1994 masterpiece, The Historical Jesus.Crossan’s research is controversial, more focused on the real life of a first-century sage (Jesus) than in the messianic God-man Christianity turned him into. I believe Crossan’s most irritating position (to conservative Christians) is his insistence that Jesus never rose from the tomb … because he was never entombed in the first place. Jesus’ body was probably pulled from the cross and eaten by dogs, with his remains dumped in a shallow grave, like the majority of other Roman crucifixion victims. Nevertheless, Crossan’s portrayal of Jesus is warm and powerful.This little 200-page book is for people who want a quick introduction to Crossan’s research without tomes or tangents.
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Interesting bible study, which separates the historical Jesus from the Son fo God Jesus which was applied by the gospels after his death.
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