Wednesday, July 8, 2009


One of the goals of Reformed Academic is to discuss matters of Scripture interpretation in relation to other areas of scholarship. In the polarized climate of today this is very difficult if not impossible. Nevertheless, we cannot escape the call to give an account of what we believe and why we believe it in the context of contemporary culture. Specifically, we want to show that it is possible to combine a rigorous critique of various forms of Bible criticism with a thoughtful and open-minded consideration of Scripture interpretation in relation to various scholarly disciplines that aims to stay true to Scripture. I am offering a review of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg as a contribution to this goal of Reformed Academic. For the review, see “Marcus Borg: the Tragedy of Reaction” in our “collected papers” (in the sidebar) - direct link here.

Marcus Borg (1942- ) is an influential American biblical scholar and a widely read author. He is a member of the Bible critical Jesus Seminar, and is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University. His works have been translated into nine languages. Borg is among the most influential voices in progressive Christianity. The review of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg is not offered because it is timely. The book appeared in 1994. Rather it is offered to make the following points.

First, the review is intended as a contribution to the goal of Reformed Academic mentioned above. It starts with what is intended as a fair and non-evaluative description of the content of the book followed by an assessment.

Second, the assessment also contains a critique of Rudolph Bultmann. This is not only an indispensable context for the work of Marcus Borg, but also because Rudolph Bultmann may be considered as representative for the final phase in the development of higher biblical criticism. Thus Bultmann offers an opportunity to show the weaknesses of his work and of higher biblical criticism in general.

Third, the assessment describes how the development of higher biblical criticism was influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant seen as a response to a deterministic interpretation of Newtonian physics. This offers an example of the complexity of the interaction between the interpretation of nature in science and the interpretation of Scripture.

Fourth, I hope it contributes to avoiding what I refer to in the title of the review as ‘the tragedy of reaction.’ The tragic nature of reaction is that it takes on precisely those features of its intended opponent that it was intended to reject.

Finally, this particular book was chosen because the writings of Marcus Borg are widely influential.

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