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A liberal photo-fit of Jesus
on 15 April 2014
I'm an atheist who is interested in New Testament history, and especially the historical Jesus. Borg and Crossan are two fine scholars, of course. I'm very much enjoying Borg's Evolution Of The Word. You would perhaps think their liberal approach would appeal to a non-believer. But it doesn't.
This book uses Mark's Gospel to guide us through Jesus' last week. It's a good outline of the last days, from the traditional Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem, to Easter Sunday. Borg and Crossan portray Jesus as a non-violent, proto-Gandhi type character.
They compare, for example, Pilate's militaristic procession into Jerusalem with Jesus' peaceful on-a-donkey procession accompanied the poor and the oppressed; those suffering under Rome's "domination system". They argue that God wanted to show his non-violent nature. That's very odd since God's extremenly violent nature has been on show throughout the Old Testament. Why the Almighty would suddenly have an epiphany with regards his approach to violence is not explained.
They constantly refer to the Jewish aristocracy such as the priests and Pharisees as "collaborators", using loaded language - in the 20th/21st century, the word "collaborator" really refers to one thing and one period.
Their Jesus is a placeholder for their own worldviews, and not useful in historical Jesus studies, though the book is pretty decent as a basic guide to what the Gospels - or Mark specifically - says about the Passion story.
It's interesting and well worth a read if you are interested in the period.