Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time Summary

Marcus J. Borg


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time offers an intimate and revealing reflection of Marcus J. Borg’s own spiritual journey. He grew up in a Lutheran family where his earliest image of Jesus was very traditional. This image began to change in elementary school as Borg began to struggle with theological issues such as the omnipresence and transcendence of God. Throughout adolescence and college, his questions and doubts only intensified, causing enormous guilt and anxiety. His quest for answers continued as he entered seminary, and it was there that he once again focused on Jesus.

In seminary, Borg learned that the Gospels were written decades after the first Easter and that they reflect the experiences of the early Christian communities and their developing understanding of Jesus. The historical Jesus was not aware that he was the second person of the Trinity, coequal with God, or the substance of God. This distinction was a revelation to Borg, who began a lifelong quest to uncover the historical Jesus. This quest initially led to many years of becoming a “closet atheist.” However, in his mid-thirties, Borg had a series of experiences with what he termed “sacred mystery,” through which he began to view God as the surrounding spirit that is at the center of existence. This led to a transformation in Borg’s understanding of God that profoundly changed his understanding of Jesus.

Borg uses the terms “pre-Easter Jesus” and “post-Easter Jesus” to distinguish between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. The majority of the book focuses on the pre-Easter Jesus or the life of Jesus before his death. The post-Easter Jesus is defined as the Jesus of Christian tradition and experience.

To begin his discussion of the pre-Easter Jesus, Borg describes his involvement with a group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar. This group meets twice a year to vote on the historical accuracy of the sayings of Jesus. The purpose of the gatherings is to see the degree of scholarly...

(The entire section is 829 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Fredriksen, Paula. “What You See Is What You Get: Context and Content in Current Research on the Historical Jesus.” Theology Today 52, no. 1 (April, 1995): 75-97. Provides an overview of recent research on the historical Jesus.

Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New York: Macmillan, 1993. This highly controversial publication is a report from the Jesus Seminar concerning what they believe Jesus actually said and did.

Keck, Leander E. “The Second Coming of the Liberal Jesus?” Christian Century 111, no. 24 (August 24, 1994): 784-788. This article compares Borg’s book with books written by John Crossan and Geza Vermes on the life of Christ.

Wildman, Wesley. “Pinning Down the Crisis in Contemporary Christology.” Dialog 37, no. 1 (Winter, 1998): 15-21. One of five articles in this issue discussing Jesus and the crisis in Christology. Offers extensive discussion regarding Borg’s Christological beliefs.