The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Commercial (?) Message

In these times of liberal-conservaive tension, it's a pleasure to be able to reccomend a cross-divide work, in this case the admirable work The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visons by Marcus Borh and N.T. Wright (1999). A good review of the book, by Paul Copan from the June 2001 Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, may be found here:

Rather to my own surprise, I find myself agreeing quite a bit with Bishop Wright. I think Borg is convincing on certain issues, but Wright is particularly persuasive as to Jesus's own view of his messianic role, which Borg tries to debunk, but (at any rate here) is left to argue from probablility. By situating Jesus in the context of first century Judaism, Wright ably argues that messianic belief fits snugly within Jesus's core message, his call for a Kingdom in, but not of this world. (Copan's summary is the best I've found online that is readily accessible, but is rather slighting of Borg's contributions, and in fact proves Wright's contention that too many pproach discussions of Jesus with a pre-conceived outcome, whether from what he calls "the attic" (enexamined doctrinal faith) or from the dungeon (modern reliance on what Robertson Davies called "police-court" facts). The work really must be read on its own).

A particularly admirable feature of the book is the co-authors obvious affection for each other, and willingness to learn from each other. To take but one example, Wright handsomely describes Borg's treatment of Jesus's description of the Temple as a "den of thieves" as "illuminating" his own view of the messianic call to repentance within Israel. Borg is ikewise open to Wright's corrections. This book is a good example of what I meant in my first post when I said that liberals and conservatives (or reasserters and reappraisers; I'm not in love with either set of terms, to be frank) need each other, and need charity for each other.

While the book is not as in depth as would be ideal, it serves to introduce Wright's work to those who might not naturally gravitate to it, and the same for Borg's. That in itself has been an eye-opener for me.

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