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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,676 Ratings  ·  215 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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Webster Bull
Sep 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: faith
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
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Lee Harmon
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Lee Razer
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
An exciting book that seeks to explain who Jesus actually was based on the gospels and scripture, stripping away the mythic superstructure that Christians built after Jesus' death, and demonstrating that what has become the dominant mode of understanding Jesus' life through scripture is only one of several metaphorical threads that are present in the Bible and understood by early Christians, and this narrowing of meaning has come at significant cost to the imaging of what religious life for the ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: jesus-research
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
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, pbs
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.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loads of food for thought. Loved his thoughts on Jesus as a man preaching a compassionate God.
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
GOD SAVE US FROM ACADEMICS ATTEMPTING TO WRITE FOR THE MASSES. I received this book for Christmas...a year? two years? SOMETIME ago, as part of my laundry list of books I needed to read to Be A Decent Adult Christian. I decided to read the whole thing for Lent last year as a personal effort to like, Be A Decent Adult Christian During Lent. I read like 2/3rds of it and put it down. Well, New Lent, New Me, decided to finish it before this year's Lent so I could read something else and not have fai ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Bob Prophet
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kate Ditzler
Jun 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. I've read a lot of Bart Ehrman and felt intellectually boxed in by his arguments. Borg gave me a way out by acknowledging Ehrman's critique but showing that belief is justifiable anyway.
Scott Holstad
Nov 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
For a long time now, I’ve heard that Marcus Borg is THE intellectual theologian of liberal Christians and as a result, I’ve been wanting to read some of his work. See, I was born into a strict evangelical, near fundie, home and grew up indoctrinated in evangelical tenants, taught to fear and hate “liberal” Christians, who weren’t actual Christians at all and who were going to hell. By the time I reached college, I was so disgusted with my religion, I left the church – went as far away as I could ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
At what point is ANY of this crap actually Biblical Christianity?

Borg would probably agree with me - he doesn't really get his Jesus from the WHOLE Bible. Once again; a NEW and improved secular Buddhist-type Jesus that everyone can love (except those pesky Bible-thumping Conservative Saints. They don't tolerate this cherry-picking cut & paste social gospel theology that belittles their King and Savior.)

I didn't bother to mark this book up - there was WAY TOO MANY problems to even begin not
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Walking in the spirit? This read will help you to do a more thorough self-examination to see whether you are or not.

Persons are good at not acknowledging that the Logos (Word) is the same as Sophia (Wisdom) of God. Woe to you Pharisees who lump together creeds and miss the boat!

Sophia was there at the beginning (brooding over the waters like a mother hen).

Jesus was the Sophia made flesh.

If God and the Sophia are one, then Jesus is one with them also, but I wouldn't take it too far. I'd be missi
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have read this book two times. I finished it the first time on December 28, 2012, and my review of it is below the line of asterisks. I just finished the book again on about January 2, 2016. I do not have much to add to my earlier review. I will say that I have a kind of hate/love relationship with this book. Mr. Borg is no doubt a highly sincere academic and scholar, but I think that books of this type or studies of the nature of the Jesus Seminar flirt with the idea that Christianity is just ...more
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read. The author, Marcus Borg, is a Biblical, more specifically, a Jesus, researcher. Be prepared to learn and be mind-blown. Here is what I learned and loved!
Jesus is written about as three different metaphors in the Bible. One of them is the Son of God. The others are the Word and Wisdom (logos and Sophia). Sophia is a feminine word and could imply Feminine Divine. Logos and Sophia are used so similarly that it’s safe to assume they can be used interchangeably. Thus, when the Go
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Eliot UCC: Getting Started 1 2 Feb 19, 2015 08:32AM  
Christian Theolog...: Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time--Preface and Chapter 1 8 19 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
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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.” 2 likes
“His own self-understanding did not include thinking and speaking of himself as the Son of 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 and hearers into a transforming relationship with the same Spirit that he himself knew, and into a community whose social vision was shaped by the core value of compassion.” 0 likes
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