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Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus [Paperback]

By Marcus J. Borg (Author) & N. T. Wright (Introduction by)
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Item description for Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus by Marcus J. Borg & N. T. Wright...

Certainly one of the most constructive and original books about Jesus to have been written in recent years. There is also a great deal of fresh and valuable detailed illuminating perspective on Jesus in the social context of his day (and) an important contribution to an important ongoing debate.

Publishers Description
Originally published in 1984, this extraordinary work has until now been available only in an expensive library edition. The present edition has been completely updated and redesigned, and includes an extended new introduction by Marcus Borg that relates the book's central arguments to subsequent Jesus scholarship. A foreword by N.T. Wright characterizes the book as one of the foundational works in the ""third quest"" for the historical Jesus. In the book, Marcus Borg argues that conflict between a politics of holiness and a politics of compassion, and their implications for Israel, resides at the center of Jesus' activity and teaching. He emphasizes several features that have since become central to Jesus scholarship: the importance of Jesus' inclusive meal practice, a non-apocalyptic paradigm for understanding Jesus, and Jesus as a social prophet and boundary-breaker. Marcus J. Borg is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University. He is the author of nine books, including Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship, also published by Trinity Press.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Trinity Press International
Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1998
Publisher   Trinity Press International
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  156338227X  
ISBN13  9781563382277  

Availability  63 units.
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More About Marcus J. Borg & N. T. Wright

Marcus J. Borg Marcus J. Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. Internationally known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar, he was Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007.

He is the author of nineteen books, including Jesus: A New Vision (1987) and the best-seller Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (1994); The God We Never Knew (1997); The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (1999); Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (2001), and The Heart of Christianity (2003), both best-sellers. His newest books are Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (2006), a New York Times Best-Seller; Conversations with Scripture: Mark (2009), and three books co-authored with John Dominic Crossan, The Last Week (2006), The First Christmas (2007), and The First Paul (2009).

His novel, Putting Away Childish Things, was published in April, 2010.

Described by The New York Times as “a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars,” he has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and “Dateline,” PBS’s “Newshour,” ABC’s “Evening News” and “Prime Time” with Peter Jennings, NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross, and several National Geographic programs. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar, he has been national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chair of its International New Testament Program Committee, and is past president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars.

His work has been translated into eleven languages: German, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and French. His doctor’s degree is from Oxford University, and he has lectured widely overseas (England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Israel and South Africa) and in North America, including the Chautauqua and Smithsonian Institutions.

Marcus J. Borg currently resides in Portland, in the state of Oregon.

Marcus J. Borg has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study
  2. Plus
  3. Seastone

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus > Historical Jesus
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus?

A �new perspective� on Jesus that ALMOST works  Jul 14, 2003
I read this book as an Evangelical Pastor; and as long as "Jesus Seminar" types occasionally write such valuable works I don't think there is much chance I will change my commitments! Borg has written a beautiful and challenging book that helps us imagine Jesus as a real historical figure. I would disagree with some of the details of Borg's analysis and reject out of hand some of his "pre-theoretical commitments" (to borrow a term from the Dutch Reformed philosophers), but I found the basic thesis extremely helpful.

Borg insists on placing Jesus in the historical and socio-political milieu of first-century Palestine. Specifically, Jesus was in a "conflict" over the "politics" of "holiness" embraced by the majority of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were not simply "religious leaders" as we think of them today. Their concern for "holiness" was not simply limited to individual piety. Rather, "holiness" fit in a scheme designed to protect their culture from the pagan dominance of that day and faithfully await vindication from God. Jesus, however, taught that their strategy could only doom them to destruction, a destruction that would not be a faithful martyrdom but rather the actual wrath of God delivered through the Romans.

What was wrong with the Pharisaical program? It interpreted the call to be holy and separate as a call to make visible the distinction between faithful Jews and their Gentile neighbors along with those Jews who, in some way, compromised with them. What this meant was that many Pharisees taught practices that put up increasing barriers between themselves and the Gentiles (My own example: the refusal to come into Pilate's house to try Jesus as recorded in John's Gospel. You will look in vain in the OT for a law that says going into a pagan's house will make one ceremonially unclean). Furthermore, since these practices were onerous, especially to the poor, the holiness concern meant deepening divisions among the Jews, as those who didn't practice the right sort of separation from the Gentiles found themselves treated like Gentiles by others. Zealotry without and division within were the fruit that Jesus saw coming from the pharisaical agenda.

Thus, Jesus' "dinner club" (to coin my own term to summarize his ministry) was a highly subversive and radical practice. He took the code, "Be holy for I am holy," and reinterpreted it to mean, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6.36). He insisted that everything the Pharisees were doing to promote righteousness was actually wicked in God's sight. Note: The issue is not that the Pharisees were trying to be good and were not quite good enough to please God. Rather, what the Pharisees sincerely believed to be good was actually evil.

I don't plan to say all the negative things I could say about Borg's book in this review, but instead focus on its positive content. The reason I feel free to do this is that the present edition has an introduction by Borg's friend N. T. Wright that really covers all the bases quite well.

I will only add two things. The first is simply my conviction that Borg's textual criticism is based on a flimsy foundation. The discrepancies between gospel accounts can be adequately explained by the fact that many of the teachings were given repeatedly with local variations and the fact that different witnesses are summarizing in Greek what were certainly much longer statements in Aramaic. Alleging an "original" teaching that the gospels have distorted is simply groundless. I am sure that there are some areas in which we will always wonder what happened during the entire event (i.e. what we would see if we were there with a camcorder). But we have no rational grounds for dismissing the reports we have as inaccurate or in taking sides with one Gospel writer against another. Borg himself is rather good at critiquing Enlightenment rationalism as it affects the study of the Gospels. I'm sorry he seems to have adopted it so uncritically in his stance to the text of the canonical Scriptures.

Secondly, the idea of analyzing the Pharisees as if they were simply good people is going to raise hackles in some circles, and understandably so. However, I would respectfully suggest that Evangelicals would be well served to try to benefit from such analysis. After all, if the Pharisees were obviously evil, then siding with Jesus against them is rather easy. We are really only reinforcing our own superiority. But if the Pharisees were more like us that we wish to imagine, then by acknowledging this fact, we may "again for the first time" find ourselves truly confronted by Jesus, not as a safe friend, but as one who comes to us in Judgment but in whom alone we might find salvation. (An example from another book: John 6 records the Jews trying to force Jesus to be their king because he fed them miraculous bread. I had never blinked when I read Jesus rebuking them for caring more about their stomachs than God. Then I read Horseley's and Hanson's _Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements at the Time of Jesus_ and realized that, in all likelihood, these people knew what it was like to literally starve due, in part, to burdensome taxation. No wonder they wanted Jesus to save them and their children. Wouldn't you? Of course, Jesus did what was right, but now I realize that it was not easy to follow him and I had, by assuming I knew what lay behind the text, invented an easy road.)

Constraints of space forbid me from listing some of the exegetical gems to be found here. If any Evangelical wants to delve into the debate on "the historical Jesus" and read from "the other side," he could not do better than Borg. There will be much to dissent from but you will not have wasted your time. Using discernment, you will understand Jesus better than before. --mark

An Innovative and Groundbreaking Study  Dec 2, 2000
Let me say right off the bat that I disagree fundamentally with one assertion of Borg in this book: I believe Jesus was very much an eschatologically orientated and motivated figure in distinction to Borg who regards such beliefs as "taken for granted" and "in need of reexamination". But that is just a difference in our interpretation of the Jesus traditions. Virtually everything else Marcus Borg writes in this study of the historical Jesus I regard as highly suggestive and very persuasive. It is one of the best books i have read which enables the modern reader to site Jesus in his first century Jewish environment. This, as Borg writes very lucidly, was a matter of resistance to Rome, Jewish holiness and purity and a matter of politics in the widest sense of that word. Things I find particularly useful in this study are Borg's concentration on compassion as Jesus' form of holiness, his existence as a "spirit person" and his discussion of the multiform existence of first century Judaism. Put simply, this book is a substantial attempt to ascertain what was behind the teaching and activity of Jesus in its political, social and cultural contexts which doesn't forget the necessary "religious" aspects to studying Jesus. That Borg is a member of the Jesus Seminar, those trashers of previous consensus and arch-publicists, might put some people off this book - but it shouldn't. Borg is the sensible face of that group and his conclusions are significantly different at several points. This book deserves to be read, mused upon and weighed due to its insight and judicious handling of the first century situation in which we find Jesus. Conclusions come and go but this study by Borg sets out an argument which most readers of the historical Jesus will need to address sooner or later.

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