San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2000. Pp. xi + 288. ISBN 0060608765
At the heart of Christianity stands the person of Jesus. Jesus has always held a perennial interest for those who encounter him, but not always for the same reasons. With the rise of modern scholarship, the person of Jesus remains riveting as ever, but the task of trying to discern just who he was and what he was about have become increasingly difficult to understand. Most opinions regarding the historical person of Jesus often fall into two camps (ix). One group, unable to deal with the historical and human aspects to the gospels, raises the drawbridge and refuses to engage the material, often leading to disastrous readings of the texts. Others embrace modern studies in such a manner that they find themselves unable to make any sort of faith commitment to Jesus. Despite their differences, both camps are alike in that each group is often unable to have meaningful and constructive dialogue with each other (x).
This state of affairs is part of what makes Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright’s book so engaging. While neither author can be pigeon-holed neatly into any category like the ones above, each author has definite and differing convictions regarding the person and work of Jesus, with both seeking to take historical research into account (ix-x). The book is structured around a series of topics related to the historical understanding of Jesus, with both authors contributing a chapter to the topic under consideration (xi). They are each aware of what the positions of the other writer are, and at times they engage each other’s thought (xi). Such engagements are charitable, and make for informative interchange that has a distinctly Christian tone (x-xi).