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Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,914 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Of the many recent books on the historical Jesus, none has explored what the latest biblical scholarship means for personal faith. Now, in Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg addresses the yearnings of those who want a fully contemporary faith that welcomes rather than oppresses our critical intelligence and openness to the best of historical scholarship. B ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by HarperOne (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

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Lee Harmon
I read this little book several years back, and wanted to make sure it isn’t forgotten. Marcus Borg is one of my favorite writers, and this is what I’ve always considered his “coming out” book. The one that lays bare Borg’s understanding of the historical Jesus, and Borg’s journey from blind belief into a more complete, contemporary appreciation for Jesus and what his message means for mankind today. In this book is a Christianity for the 21st century and a Jesus who can be embraced by everyone. ...more
Lotte
I will definitely seek out more books by Borg after reading this one. Although I did not agree with every idea Borg presented, I gained new perspectives on several old ideas. Interesting dicussion of the pre-Easter vs. post-Easter Jesus, the ideas of compassion and discipleship, the 3 macro-stories of the Old Testament, etc. This passage towards the end of the book sums up some of what I found important in this book: "And discipleship involves becoming compassionate.'Be compassionate as God is c ...more
Persephone
I've had a decade and a half of estrangement from the religion of my youth (Christianity), with fits and starts of making peace with it and attempting to integrate it into my current spirituality and worldview. Marcus Borg gives me a way to perfectly integrate Jesus into my spirituality, as well as my work as an interfaith minister. Since finishing this book, I've been (only half jokingly) referring to myself as a Borgian Christian. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone from a Chri ...more
Webster Bull
Two Episcopalians whom I respect told me I should read this book. Both said that it frames Jesus in a way that makes sense to them. It does not make sense to me.

The non-sense begins with the whole notion of needing to frame Jesus to make him palatable for our liberal, postmodern, science-driven culture. Which is what Lutheran theologian Marcus Borg does in this popular book whose cover claims "Over 250,000 Sold!"

Borg says that we need to look at our images of Jesus, and if we don't like them, co
...more
Liz
May 01, 2015 Liz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Struggling and curious Christians
Written by a scholar who is an excellent writer for lay folks, and includes his personal and spiritual growth stories.
This book has it all. Who has grown up in the Judeo-Christian tradition and not wondered what Jesus and his life was really like? Here is a author whose deep curiosity led him to study everything written 'about' the first century, and everything written 'during' the first century, that would impact this middle eastern area of the Roman Empire. His study of the original Greek and
...more
Andrea
Fascinating and illuminating book that is both scholarly with some elements of the personal in which Borg chronicles his own evolving Christianity and relationship with Jesus as well as teaching the lessons of his 30 years of work and study as a Biblical scholar. Ultimately, Borg offers an extremely useful and informative book both looking at how beliefs and understandings of who Jesus was have been in a constant state of change since his death, but also of how a historical/metaphorical reading ...more
Judithbledsoe
Wow, this book shatters everything weird about Christianity and confirms the best: compassionate advocacy for social justice. Please read this book and discuss it with me! Although I do want more details on some of this specific claims Borg makes, he draws an extremely illuminating distinction between the person that Jesus was and the religion created after his death. As I read this book, everything made sense. It doesn't undermine Christianity, but it makes it believable.
Geoffrey
Marcus Borg is a heretic - he denies the orthodox doctrines of the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, etc. OK, now that's out of the way let me tell you why I enjoyed this book despite its serious flaws.

Borg provides an autobiographical account of his own journey from child-like faith through adolescent skepticism to adult rejection and then back to an identification as, I guess, a "Christian" (although I would argue his view of ideal Christianity more closely represents a New Age spiritualit
...more
David
I found myself nodding my head in agreement quite a lot more then I had expected to as I read this book. When I began reading Christian books way back in college, one of the first I read was The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I am pretty sure Borg, as a member of the Jesus Seminar, was mentioned in that book in a not-positive way. My experience with Borg was limited for many years to mentions in books by those who disagreed with him. Eventually I read a book where he and NT Wright dialogues and ...more
Teresa
This book involves intelligent and thought-provoking discussion of new biblical scholarship and its ramifications on our relationship with both the historical and metaphorical Jesus. Borg's personal journey of naivety to agnosticism bordering on atheism to mature Christianity resonates deeply with me. Learning about the scholarship and search for truth behind the historical person (and the stories told about him) of Jesus actually is reassuring, not faith-destroying. The need for critical examin ...more
Gideon
Oct 25, 2008 Gideon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Amy B.
This is the first book of Borg's I've read, and promptly ordered three more before I even finished.

Borg discusses the "Historical Jesus" which, while certainly not a new topic in religious studies, has gained some steam in the past few years.

It's worth noting that if you're a believer in the Bible as the inerrant, literal word of God - this book may not be for you (but all the more reason you should read it.) But if you want a deeper understanding of what and who Jesus was - this is an excellent
...more
Robert
A fresh interpretation of the historical Jesus, written for a general audience by a leading Biblical scholar. This book is a superb introduction to an important current in modern Christology. Is an accessible, lucidly argued examination of the life and message of Jesus - and the implications that this new understanding of him has on Christian theology and ethics. Borg sees Jesus as a "spirit person", a man in close communion with God, a man centered on God, powerfully incarnating the divine comp ...more
Kate Ditzler
I'm currently interested in educating myself as an adult in my Christian faith, and I've come to find myself highly attracted to what Borg and others call the emerging paradigm of Christianity. This book is an overview of how historical scholarship into Jesus has implications for our faith -- and to that end, I really enjoyed the discussions in chapters 3&4.

Chapter 3 talked about Jesus replacing the idea of purity with the idea of compassion in religious practices of the day, and the exampl
...more
Bob Prophet
This book proved very helpful in gaining a different understanding of Jesus from a scholarly point-of-view versus the typical mainstream beliefs. I especially appreciated Borg's discussion on translations, offering an improved way of grasping the original Hebrew language set in the context of the times, and also his breakdown of the 3 macro-stories of the bible: the Exodus, the Exile, and the priestly narrative.

What I probably liked even more was how well the work is cited throughout, providing
...more
Lisse
May 30, 2012 Lisse rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisse by: Megan
I really enjoyed this book. I have grown up within the Catholic church and like many Christians, have heard the Gospel stories so many times that I often think very little about them except that they are just another part of my life that I have grown up with hearing. This book completely opened my eyes to a different understanding of Jesus and the times he lived in. Having both Jesus and the Gospels talked about contextually, made everything seem new and made so much more sense to me. I always k ...more
Keith
Borg focuses on a metaphorical understanding of Scripture that turns out to be rich, deep and practical. He believes the story in the Scriptures is also the story we find ourselves in. This book helps one to look at the Bible in a more transformative way while deemphasizing the informative to an extent that may make some uncomfortable. Nevertheless, one can hold to a literal interpretation while still learning to see the metaphorical meaning underneath it in a much richer and fuller way.
Ahf
Not an easy read but surprisingly interesting. The key part of this book for me was the way it tries to differentiate between the historical ("Pre Easter") Jesus and the Jesus portrayed in the later gospels ("Post Easter"). As predicted I'm much more comfortable with the former than the latter. The point about Christianity being originally a religion not focused on laws and rules but on the relationship to god (call it belief or worship). This contrasts with Judaism and Islam which are all about ...more
Cynthia
Borg presents an intriguing argument which will likely be appealing to individuals who wrestle with the historical Jesus debate and the Jesus Seminar. He is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and a New Testament scholar who has found himself at different points of his life a naive Christian, agnostic and atheist. He now comes full circle to viewing himself a Christian once again and uses the historical Jesus argument to provide a secular framework and case for Jesus as Christ. However, you will likel ...more
NancyInWI
Way over my head for the most part. And didn't like the "Jesus Committee" that decides what Jesus said or didn't say. How can one have a relationship with Jesus, which the author concludes is the most important thing, if you don't believe he really said what is attributed to him in the Bible? There were some good points made though regarding the way we look at Jesus. And I do agree that we need to be more like Jesus and the way he lived, using him as an example for our lives.
Joanne
I am glad I read this book, I learned some details about Jesus that I was not aware of, particularily his quotes about God being a compassionate God.
I found Borg's language hard to follow at times, so I skimmed areas and looked to direct references to Jesus
I found that I agree with Borg's views and that they reflect my beliefs that I have had for years.
I admire his courage to follow through with his beliefs in spite of his background
Ben Hunt
This was a fun little read for me, that--at the very least--is presently forcing me to think deeply about some things. I am skeptical of at least two things, and will need to engage in more thorough and critical study on these points: 1) Borg's "foundational" understanding of the God of the Bible as an almost animistic reality; and 2) Borg's claim to the Christian way as "one among many" paths toward fulfillment in God. Both of these things seem to be in tension with the Orthodox presentation of ...more
Keith
This was a wonderful early Christmas present from AB, which I read over the Advent season, it gave me new insights into the real meaning of Christmas, distinguishing between the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the cosmic Christ. In many ways as if echoing Hans Kueng but it is not clear that the two theologians know each other or refer to each other.
For instance one insight: the story of the shepherds and the story of the wise men rather contradict each other and are rather symbolic than literal
...more
Pete
Jul 14, 2014 Pete added it
Central Message:


"The image of Jesus I have sketched in the preceding chapters is quite different from the popular image of Jesus, the Jesus many of us have met before. His own self-understanding did not include thinking and speaking of himself as the Son on God whose historical intention or purpose was to die for the sins of the world, and his message was not about believing in him. Rather, he was a spirit person, subversive sage, social prophet, and movement founder who invited his followers an
...more
Dennis Wahlquist
This was a difficult read in one sense. The author is a Jesus Seminar scholar, which gives him "freedom" to pick and choose (within the groups' rules) which things the "pre-Easter" Jesus actually said and which stories are "true" (i.e., could have been videotaped). I had difficulty with some of that. However, when he moved on to the "post-Easter" Jesus, I thought that much of what he said was excellent. I especially enjoyed the chapters relating Jesus to the woman Wisdom (of Proverbs) and the th ...more
Lawrence
I thought that this book was at bottom a book of faith. And if it is read as a book of faith, it provides perspectives on Jesus that can help to deepen and explore faith. The book gave me a new view of Jesus, the "historical Jesus", and the mystery of the Church. That does not mean that what Mr. Borg writes is Truth, and I think that he is the first to say that he is providing his own thoughts and conclusions based on his research. He admits quite openly when he is speculating (as in the discuss ...more
Monica
The book attempts to address the many problems modern people have with "the post-Easter Jesus" and reintroduces us to Jesus, the historic or "pre-Easter Jesus" in such a way as to reignite Christian feeling in adults who have drifted away from the faith of their childhood. The author takes us on a journey he himself has made, showing us his own path of childhood belief, then unbelief, then the re-ignition of his own faith.

This is a very accessible and well-written scholarly look at what the aut
...more
Davis Aujourd'hui
I am always on the outlook for books that enrich my spiritual life. This book provided me with some fresh new perspectives which have enhanced my relationship with Jesus.

What I especially liked about the author, who is a theologian, is how he described his own struggles with his faith as a part of his spiritual journey toward truth. This is a book for someone who wants to place Christian dogma and theology in perspective. It helps paint a personal picture of Jesus, the man.

I would recommend this
...more
Audrey
This is a remarkable book! As I began to read the book, I wasn’t sure how to respond to Borg’s statement that he had come to the mind-boggling realization that the popular image of Jesus as the divine savior who knew himself to be the Son of God and who offered up his life for the sins of the world was not historically true. Furthermore, he said the gospels are not straight forward historical documents inspired directly by God but are developing traditions of the early Christian movement put int ...more
Adam
I had hoped this book would be a thought-provoking examination of the Jesus of history vs. the Jesus of faith, but it's far too brief to adequately cover that topic, and it attempts to branch out to cover the biblical narrative as a whole, which overextends it considerably.

Borg's major premise is that there is a considerable difference between what he calls the "Pre-Easter Jesus" (the man who really existed) and the "Post-Easter Jesus" (the character built up by the early Christian church as it
...more
James
This is the first Borg book that I read for myself (previously my opinion of Borg was mitigated by my reading of N.T. Wright). There is a bunch here that I disagree with, but there were some insightful things as well. I would disagree with Borg that there is a strong distinction between the pre-Easter Jesus and the post-Easter Christ. I think Jesus thought himself the Messiah and was self-aware of his part in the divinity. Borg, as a member of the Jesus seminar, is skeptical of what we can know ...more
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Eliot UCC: Getting Started 1 1 Feb 19, 2015 08:32AM  
Christian Theolog...: Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time--Preface and Chapter 1 8 15 Sep 01, 2012 09:28AM  
Interesting read! 2 16 Apr 18, 2012 02:07PM  
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Borg was born into a Lutheran family of Swedish and Norwegian descent, the youngest of four children. He grew up in the 1940s in North Dakota and attended Concordia College, Moorhead, a small liberal arts school in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Moorhead he was a columnist for the school paper and held forth as a conservative. After a close reading of the Book of Amos and its overt message of socia ...more
More about Marcus J. Borg...
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally The Meaning of Jesus The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary

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“For Jesus, compassion was more than a quality of God and an individual virtue: it was a social paradigm, the core value for life in community. To put it boldly: compassion for Jesus was political.” 1 likes
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