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Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally [Paperback]

Marcus J. Borg
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jan 2002
One of the vital challenges facing thoughtful people today is how to read the Bible faithfully without abandoning our sense of truth and history. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time provides a much-needed solution to the problem of how to have a fully authentic yet contemporary understanding of the scriptures. Many mistakenly believe there are no choices other than fundamentalism or simply rejecting the Bible as something that can bring meaning to our lives. Answering this modern dilemma, acclaimed author Marcus Borg reveals how it is possible to reconcile the Bible with both a scientific and critical way of thinking and our deepest spiritual needs, leading to a contemporary yet grounded experience of the sacred texts. This seminal book shows you how to read the Bible as it should be examined in an approach the author calls "historical-metaphorical." Borg explores what the Scriptures meant to the ancient communities that produced and lived by them. He then helps us to discover the meaning of these stories, providing the knowledge and perspective to make the wisdom of the Bible an essential part of our modern lives. The author argues that the conventional way of seeing the Bible's origin, authority, and interpretation has become unpersuasive to millions of people in our time, and that we need a fresh way of encountering the Bible that takes the texts seriously but not literally, even as it takes seriously who we have become. Borg traces his personal spiritual journey, describing for readers how he moved from an unquestioning childhood belief in the biblical stories to a more powerful and dynamic relationship with the Bible as a sacred text brimming with meaning and guidance. Using his own experience as an example, he reveals how the modern crisis of faith is itself rooted in the misinterpretation of sacred texts as historical record and divine dictation, and opens readers to a truer, more abundant perspective. This unique book invites everyone whatever one's religious background to engage the Bible, wrestle with its meaning, explore its mysteries, and understand its relevance. Borg shows us how to encounter the Bible in a fresh way that rejects the limits of simple literalism and opens up rich possibilities for our lives.

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Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally + Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith + Speaking Christian - Recovering the Lost Meaning of Christian Words
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; Reprint edition (2 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060609192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060609191
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Takes the Bible back from the specialists…nothing short of a blessing, even a miracle! --Peter J. Gomes, author of The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Heart and Mind

This welcome book removes many of the barriers that separate thoughtful people from the wisdom of the Bible. --Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Provides many excellent metaphorical readings of biblical accounts, which unify the Bible s stories. --Library Journal

About the Author

Marcus J. Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. He was Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007. Borg is the author of nineteen books, including the bestselling The Heart of Christianity, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, and the novel Putting Away Childish Things. He was an active member of the Jesus Seminar when it focused on the historical Jesus, and he has been chair of the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The key word in the title of this book-Reading the Bible Again for the First Time-is "again" It points to my central claim. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant attitude 31 Dec 2009
By K. Webb
A highly recommended exploration of the Bible and a book we were prescribed on a biblical studies course. Borg would be considered at the cutting edge of accessible biblical studies. He covers the main features of the Old and New Testaments. He is a great writer and very easy to read. He takes an appealing objective attitude towards the writings in the Bible even though he is a devout Christian. He makes the point it is written by people and not by God. A very well structured work, Borg manages to reconcile the objectivity of literature with the reality of faith. He is also very politically correct in his treatment of e.g. women in the Bible. He doesn't cover every angle in a book of this size and don't expect a thorough exploration of the teachings of Jesus. However there are plenty of book references for those wishing to explore further. Borg is a gargantuan mind. I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to explore the Bible or their faith.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting Experience 17 Jun 2002
Borg repeats some of the opinions he has given in previous books. Most important is that being Christian is not about believing in the Bible or about believing in Christianity. It is instead about having a relationship with the God to whom the Bible points. The Bible itself contains a combination of history and metaphor. Critical thinking allows the reader to integrate the Bible stories into a larger whole. Although the Bible speaks with many voices, a major theme throughout is the conflict between the royal theology of pharaohs, kings and caesars and the prophetic protest against it by Moses, the prophets, Jesus, Paul and John of Patmos.
Borg never fails to provide an uplifting experience for me. It helps that he writes with so much clarity.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A God of Justice and Compassion 2 July 2002
READING THE BIBLE AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME gives the reader a fresh look at the Scriptures. Borg points out that the gospels make extraordinary claims about Jesus such as that He is one with God and the revelation of God. Jesus lifts the Christian out of death and into life. The Christian, according to Borg, can make such claims without saying that God is known only through Jesus.
Borg states the Bible can teach us that God is not only real, but knowable and He is a God of justice and compassion. Furthermore, our lives can be made whole by living in a conscious relationship with the mystery of the Lord. The latter is the most important benefit we can receive from reading the Bible again with a new outlook.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By calmly
A gentle presentation of the historical-metaphorical way of reading the Bible: both the Old and New Testaments.

Borg writes about "postcritical naivete" as a way of listening to Bible stories once one can no longer believe they are literally true.

There's much good material about the Old Testament. I especially found the chapter on "Reading the Prophets Again" helpful. As for the New Testament, it was "Reading Paul Again" that has helped me most so far. Borg presents key themes in Paul and speculates how Paul may have reached individuals with his message about Jesus. Borg's discussion of "justification by grace" as being the basis of our relationship to God in the present seemed well said and a good correction to what seems an inappropriate focus on the future.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social and Political Protest in the Ancient World 5 April 2002
By A Customer
In many ways this book has the feel of a history of social and political protest in the ancient world. Borg's emphasis on what he refers to as 'opposition to systems of domination' is repeated often and he points out in his chapter on Paul that Christianity is the only major religion whose two most influential personalities were put to death by established authority. The clear implication then is that the messages of Jesus and Paul may be very threatening to systems of domination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical realism without losing the heart 28 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have struggled for a few years to get to grips with the many problems presented by the bible. The classic evangelical approach is that every word is to be taken as literal truth. I did a talk a few years ago about Joshua and the levels of violence were disturbing. I found myself admitting that I had very little to say. Then there are the inconsistencies in the gospels and the frankly unbelievable stories such as Adam and Eve, Jonah and Balaam's ass.

The warning has always been that if you select only those parts of the bible that you like that you water down the whole.

This excellent book by Marcus J Borg addresses those very concerns. He present s the bible in a new way - from the point of the view of those who wrote the various documents and those who would have received them. He places the bible within the world that it came into being, rather than as a guide book to be interpreted as if it was written last week.

So, for example, the gospels might be history - a factual narrative, testimony - statements of the impact of Jesus or metaphor - stories to tell readers what Jesus was like. But Borg does not write this in a way that dilutes the bible. On the contrary he points out that each of these is valid. The underlying truth remains the same.

He writes as an academic but in a way that does not hide his own passion and love for the scriptures.

A great read and highly recommended for anyone seeking the truth behind the most popular book in history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent read
This is another insightful book from Marcus Borg. The introductory chapters on how people read the Bible are very interesting. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rebecca Mynett
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book for Someone Looking for a More Liberal Interpretation
It suggests a more free way of having the Bible communicate to you the Divine message than has often been the case, or at least as much of it as the Bible includes. Read more
Published 10 months ago by plasticspannah
4.0 out of 5 stars rescuer of fundamentalists
This is a good book for anyone who is so used to the Bible being preached as literal truth and who doesn't know how to free their mind so as to see its richer meaning. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
This book is well written and very refreshing. It helps the reader take the bible apart (just realising that the bible is actually not one book but a collection of books and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jane K
2.0 out of 5 stars Contents OK, Kindle edition poor
The theme of this book is interesting but the conversion to Kindle format is very poor. The fonts used for the main text and for the quotes from the Bible differ greatly in size... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible...
Very negative view of the Bible - not very objective
Very negative view of the Bible - not very objective
Published 17 months ago by Jimg
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