I read this book back in 2003, and as I mentioned before, have lost/lent my copy so I've picked up one from my local library. I'm in the process of re-reading it, but didn't want to let it get too long before we started the discussion process, and for what its worth, I couldn't take two of Marcus's chapters back to back (sorry, Dr. Borg!), so I thought I'd post some questions for parts 1 and 2, and a few of my thoughts.
Part One, "How Do We Know About Jesus" and Part Two, "What Did Jesus Do and Teach", are foundational for the rest of the dialogue. In it, Wright and Borg set out their basic frameworks for understanding Jesus, interpreting the sources, and their overviews of Jesus himself, his ministry, and how the early church viewed him. From this, we see a few key similarities, as well as some stark differences that provide insight not only in the scholastic continuum of historical Jesus research, but also into the Epispocal:Anglican split.
So, here's some questions to get the conversation started (please don't feel obligated or constrained by them), and then I'll add a few brief thoughts (I never have enough time to give really well thought out thoughts, but at least it won't be some snarky little comment tacked onto a more serious post).
Part 1: Sources and Methods
1) What are some similarities in the approaches of Borg and Wright in knowing about Jesus? What are some key differences? Both criticize what they call the "secular worldview...especially corrosive of religion", as Borg puts it, but do they end up on common ground with their alternate means of understanding Jesus?
2) Who makes a better case for his approach to understanding Jesus? How so?
3) Wright is commonly viewed as a traditionalist; Borg as a liberal or revisionist. Are these characterizations accurate?
4) Both argue for understanding the importance of "metaphor" in doing history. What do they mean by that?
Part 2: The Big Picture
1) Wright's and Borg's pictures of Jesus seem pretty different at first reading. What are points of similarities, and what of differences? How much of these are surface vs. fundamental differences?
2) Who presents a more coherent argument for his interpretation of "what Jesus did and tought"?
3) How well does his overview of Jesus connect with each scholar's discussion for their interpretive method in the Part 1?
Some quick thoughts:
Thinking back to the labels of conservative vs. liberal for Wright & Borg, I find that Borg is in fact more conservative in his scholarship on the one hand--he's much less willing to depart from the traditional academic consensus, especially in his use of the sources and compartmentalizing "the Jesus of History And the Christ of Faith". On the other hand he also seems more liberal than others; he's much more willing to make nontraditional assertions relying on his personal lenses, particularly the fourth, the cross cultural study of religions (Jesus is a Spirit person like Lao Tzu who speaks of the immanence of God). He's less risky in his work--by that, I mean less of his work deals with interpreting the data at hand, which is very debatable and arguable and such, and more with his interaction with the data, which is less open for debate by its very nature. I mean, how one interprets data is up for argument; how one feels about their relationship with the data is not. Borg's more about lenses, buttressed by modern academic consensus, or conventional wisdom. Wright's more about the verification of hypotheses, consensus or no.
Rereading this, and having read most of Bishop Tom's published books to date, I must admit I find his chapters harder to read. They are dense, and unwieldy, and not well suited for snagging a bit before bed, or just after work before the baby wakes up from his afternoon nap. But they are also well thought out, coherent and internally consistent, with content that both informs my reading of the gospels, and fits the life of Jesus much more than Borg's account.
Wright presents Jesus in a holistic picture, with a face set like flint, inaugurating the Kingdom of God in opposition to the present world and the kingdom of darkness behind it. His portrait of Jesus, to me, takes into account the whole of the available data in such a way that is not anachronistic (i.e., is not influenced by neo-Buddhist readings of the Gospels, nor by addressing a scheme of salvation-history in such a way that ensures the medieval or modern church's interpretation of Messiahship, etc) as well as is not dismissive of the context of what it meant to be a messiah under Roman controlled Palestine in the first century. It does not depend on judgment calls of what's "history remembered" vs. "history metaphorized" (distinguished by what criteria? under which standard? using what methodology?). Instead, it takes the data, proposes a hypothesis, and then sets to verify it by analyzing the fit of the data to the hypothesis in providing a coherent and simple resulting picture (Wright 23).
Looking forward to the conversation!
Edited by Buckeye Jones, 12 July 2006 - 07:14 AM.