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Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally
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Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  2,418 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
Many Christians mistakenly believe that their only choice is either to reconcile themselves to a fundamentalist reading of scripture (a "literal-factual" approach) or to simply reject the Bible as something that could bring meaning and value into their lives. In Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg shows how instead we can freshly appreciate all the esse ...more
Paperback, 321 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by HarperOne (first published 2001)
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Stephanie
Feb 18, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Especially Christians, but people of all faiths (or no faith) who care about the Bible
Recommended to Stephanie by: Rev. Pam Worthington, St. George's Anglican Church
I've read this book again and again. At a time when I could no longer read the Bible as a divine product, literal and inerrant, Marcus Borg gave the Bible back to me in a powerful and vibrant way. Borg is a leader in the emergent church. He's progressive, but unlike many of his peers, he attempts to pull together the poles. The premise of this book is reading the Bible as a human product, written by people who had real experiences of God. Borg has departed from a strictly historical-critical met ...more
K
Feb 08, 2009 K rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I know that many of us were raised as Christians and have since left the religion. I'm aware of the many arguments in particular leftists make against religion. I was happy to see a sensible way of reading the Bible that made more sense than "Some of this is the word of god and some of this is human error - you choose!" But what I found even more exciting was the argument of Christianity having a God as a liberator who destabilizes the political order in favor of the oppressed. Good stuff.
Marie
Jun 26, 2015 Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the stuff that people in mainline Christian seminaries and divinity schools are talking about, but you don't hear it from the pulpit Sunday morning because churches are tied to traditional doctrines and don't want to overwhelm people with too much scholarly jargon. The subtitle pretty much says it all: taking the Bible seriously but not literally. (Obviously some people will take offense immediately and presumably they won't bother reading the book). We live in a culture where "fact" and ...more
L.S.
May 19, 2009 L.S. rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009
The author's position in this book is culturally conditioned. His claims are not to be considered the ultimate words on reality and it is very probable that his position will be set aside and considered archaic with the passage of time. Therefore it must be discarded. The sooner the better.

Then, Borg's claims come mostly, as he aknowledges, from his own subjective experience. The book does not reflect factual reality but only some subjective opinions that are subject to error of interpretations
...more
Sara
Mar 01, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
I started this book when Marcus Borg was still alive, after having a conversation about him with my sister. I was interested in what he had to say, so I started with this book as it was relatively short and I was able to get it inter-library loan.

There isn't enough room in this book for anything in-depth. It's a look at how to read the Bible in a non-literal fashion while still having faith. (Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally is the tag line on the cover.) The sections are like teaser
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Bryan
Mar 27, 2016 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a breath of fresh air and shows how the Bible can be read productively and with great spiritual insight, without being bound in the straight-jacket of literalism. There are many portions of the Bible which are obviously not intended to be taken literally, even though many Christians insist on doing so. Borg's primary premise is that the Bible was written by humans, not by God, in the direct sense that many Christians assume. This does not mean that the some parts of the Bible are th ...more
Trey Nowell
Nov 08, 2014 Trey Nowell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel often people have this image that the Bible was a golden book that fell from the sky from God and was bestowed upon man. Marcus Borg tries to show the individual works as they were intended by each individual author of each work. This is probably the best book I can suggest for someone wanting to understand the Bible through a modern perspective and as I believe, many people of the day saw each work. Borg is able to address books from Genesis to Revelation, examining many of the controver ...more
Tiffany
May 11, 2014 Tiffany rated it it was ok
As Borg summarizes at the end of the first section of the book, "we will explore what it means to read the Bible as a combination of history and metaphor. Using the tools of historical criticism, we will seek to illuminate the ancient meanings of biblical texts by setting those passages in their historical context." He differentiates between history and metaphor, making the point that the Bible isn't necessarily 100% What Happened, but that some sections are metaphors about what happened or how ...more
Walter
Feb 19, 2014 Walter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent work, full stop, period. Prof. Borg is thoughtful, pragmatic and passionate about the Bible and his commitment to getting it right (in his view) is both evident and appreciated. His insights are as plentiful as they are insightful and his reverence for the subject matter helps the reader to appreciate just how much opportunity there is in studying the Christian Scripture critically.

As is obvious from the subtitle, Prof. Borg does indeed take the Bible seriously and not liter
...more
Katharine
Mar 14, 2012 Katharine rated it it was ok
Shelves: faith
The premise of this book was very interesting, but ultimately it disappointed me. Borg argues that we shouldn't read the Bible literally, but instead read it with a historical-metaphorical lens.

The first third of the book is devoted to reasons (some compelling, some not) why a literal reading of the Bible is problematic. Instead, he believes we should read the Bible either as metaphor or as historical or sometimes both at the same time. The remainder of the book goes through parts of the Bible
...more
kelly
Jul 11, 2008 kelly rated it really liked it
Marcus Borg’s historical-metaphorical approach is fascinating—it’s everything they didn’t teach (but should have taught) you in Sunday school.

Topics that most interested me were: how some literature gains sacred status and what that means, seeing religion as a “cultural-linguistic world,” and Borg’s idea of “postcritical naivete,” in which one hears the biblical stories once again as true stories, even as one knows that they may not be factually true and that their truth does not depend upon th
...more
Anita
May 06, 2013 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Marcus Borg presents the historical, scholarly background of various books of the Bible like other authors I've read--Etienne Charpentier and Raymond Brown. He tells of the various voices found in the Bible and how they can be used as a "lens for seeing life with God." The use of metaphors is explained. By showing how some parts having meaning as metaphor instead of actual fact, Borg made some things less confusing so that I could see the God I've come to know in them.

The areas covered are the P
...more
Greg Dill
Apr 11, 2016 Greg Dill rated it it was amazing
Excellent read. All my life all I have ever known is a mostly literal understanding of scripture. Rarely, have I read or understood the Bible as a metaphorical narrative. In this book, Borg humbly takes you through the entire Bible and provides what he believes could be a metaphorical understanding of much of the stories contained within it. He doesn't claim to be right or have all the answers, and he provides several possibilities of what these stories may mean. But, I am glad that I have now b ...more
Joel Wentz
Dec 16, 2015 Joel Wentz rated it really liked it
I personally find Borg to be remarkably encouraging and pastoral in his writing, though many lump him in with the "skeptical, Jesus Seminar, liberal scholars," I consistently am surprised by his gentle passion for following Jesus and knowing God. This book directly spoke to many questions and tensions I feel when reading scripture, but am unable to address in my predominantly Evangelical-conservative Christian communities.

This all being said, the subtitle of this book is, "taking the Bible serio
...more
Michael Wardrop
Feb 08, 2014 Michael Wardrop rated it did not like it
It's hard to describe in how many ways this is a poor book. I'm not interested in writings a tome here, so here are just a few:

1) Scholarly ineptitude. Borg makes very few references to other works and certainly none to works of repute that disagree with his premise. Any book positing itself as a potential textbook - as this claims to - must have better referencing to have any credibility.
2) Arrogant. A 'thinking man's book'? For 'thoughtful readers'? Throughout this work are markers that indica
...more
Sarah
This book is addressed to the faithful. I didn't finish it because trying to read the next word while the past words hung unresolved over my head was exhausting. I have a new baby and I don't have time for this crap.

Look. This is what it comes down to. If the Bible is something that does not have a finite amount of correct interpretations, then all interpretations are valid. If all interpretations are valid, then no interpretation is authoritative. If no authoritative interpretation exists, then
...more
Sarah Daigen
Sep 20, 2013 Sarah Daigen rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love Marcus Borg, as he's able to take some complicated concepts that have made Christianity in particular (and, probably, religion in general) either a damaging stumbling block, or a compulsive mania, for so many, and demonstrate how it can make sense, be tolerant - beyond tolerant, even radically inclusive and compassionate - and still meaningful. The subheading for this book, "Taking the Bible seriously, but not literally" sums it up in as pithy a nutshell as I can manage.

Lookin
...more
Rudy Dyck
Apr 09, 2013 Rudy Dyck rated it it was amazing
This is a great LIBERAL Christian book. Some of the opinions are eye-opening and would be considered blasphemous by a traditional Christian viewpoint. If you believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and that it is 100% infallible you will not agree with much of Marcus Borg's work.

I grew up believing in the traditional Bible but the violence and some of the conflicting messages can be hard to grasp and understand. As I've read more about the Old Testament including things like the Docume
...more
Paul Dinger
Apr 27, 2014 Paul Dinger rated it it was amazing
Though Borg has alot of the same ideas as Spong, his books are much less confrontational. Like Spong, he has a lot of solid scholarship and reason to fall back on. It is hard to argue against his ideas. I had a friend in college and we always argued about scripture, I can use this book if ever we meet again, and yes argue again. I liked this book, I carried it with me all thru Wonder Con, enjoying its arguments and presentations. If you are interested in the Bible, this is a book for you.
Carol
May 03, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
I want to know more! Would like to use this as a base for a group sharing and bible study.
Ron
Jun 30, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Marcus Borg is able to make complex issues easy to understand at several levels, making the read enjoyable without giving too short shrift to the ideas. He is honest about his biases and honest about the ideas of those with whom he does not agree. Even those who are powerfully opposed to Borg's theology will have to admit the sincerity of his beliefs and his spiritual journey. His "exposition" of the bible, and biblical themes is very likely more accessible to those people whose cultural energy ...more
Andrea
Aug 09, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it
Well written and researched book about a historical-metaphorical approach to reading the Bible that pairs reading the books of the Bible in the historical context for which they were written, and with a metaphorical lens that allows the stories in the Bible to transcend time and Fact to speak to larger Truths. This is an excellent counterpoint to the Fundamentalist/Literalist reading of the Bible that is so often now portrayed as THE Christian way of reading the Bible instead of a more recent an ...more
Cathy Wilcox
This is a great book for anyone who is interested in the historical/metaphorical approach to reading sacred texts and is uncomfortable with a strict literal interpretation. I loved it, often nodding and thinking "Exactly" as I read. Borg discusses the Old Testament and New Testament, offering insights into the cultural contexts in which they were written.

I borrowed it from the library and wish I had purchased it, as I may use it as a reference in the future.
Kathleen
Aug 05, 2009 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a book I will return to many times. Two blurbs on the cover say it all: taking the Bible seriously but not literally and a thinking person's guide to the Bible. For me, this expanded my thinking and understanding of the Bible beyond Sunday School. It helped the Bible make sense to me in a new way. I like the intellectual excercise as it supports faith.
David Metting
Nov 04, 2013 David Metting rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Fantastic overview of reading the Bible that is not literal and yet is still rich with meaning, insight, beauty, etc. Borg is highly readable, engaging, lucid, and I recommend this book to anyone looking for a different take on the Bible than what is traditionally and often uncritically accepted. Read it!
Vince Dacosta
Aug 04, 2014 Vince Dacosta rated it really liked it
The opening chapters are the most interesting. The rest is familiar and has been written about at length. the concept of seeing the Bible through "conflicting lens" is interesting: some see it through the lens of The Word of God, while others see it through the lens of the word of man. Also there is a danger of beginning to worship the Bible, rather than worship the God of the Bible.
Suggestions that the creation stories and other early stories are not necessarily how God saw it, but how the peop
...more
Dave
Jan 27, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
It's always interesting to hear someone's perspective on how they interpret the bible. The more and more I read about the literal interpretations vs the symbolic interpretations about the bible, the more I come to believe in the symbolic meanings. One of my favorite thoughts from this author is asking one question when reading the bible. Why did the writers of this specific book, want to write this story in this specific way. It doesn't really matter if it was true or not; there was a message an ...more
Theresa
Jun 10, 2009 Theresa rated it it was amazing

The chapter on the Book of Revelation helped me to understand that book for the first time by explaining the genre of apocalyptic literature. Written for the popular readership, it is based on current, solid research.
Alice
Apr 07, 2015 Alice rated it liked it
Marcus Borg (may he rest in peace) was a brilliant theologian and a good writer, but this was not his best work. A more appropriate title would be "The Bible According to Marcus Borg: What I'm Thinking These Days."
Chris Walker
Nov 05, 2015 Chris Walker rated it really liked it
A fascinating read. Borg was one of the great theologians of recent decades. His views on the historical truth of the Bible are definitely on the liberal end of the spectrum, but/and are well worth reading and reflecting on. As Borg himself admits, the whole business of biblical interpretation is highly subjective; those who claim otherwise are in danger of fooling themselves and taking others with them. In the end, Borg's conclusions about the essence of the Christian life are entirely orthodox ...more
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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
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“The way of Jesus is thus not a set of beliefs about Jesus. That people ever thought it was is strange, when we think about it — as if one entered new life by believing certain things to be true, or as if the only people who can be saved are those who know the word "Jesus". Thinking that way virtually amounts to salvation by syllables.

Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of death and resurrection — the path of transition and transformation from an old way of being to a new way of being. To use the language of incarnation that is so central to John, Jesus incarnates the way. Incarnation means embodiment. Jesus is what the way embodied in a human life looks like.”
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“The word “sacrament” also has a broader meaning. In the study of religion, a sacrament is commonly defined as a mediator of the sacred, a vehicle by which God becomes present, a means through which the Spirit is experienced.” 1 likes
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