For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the historical-Jesus discussion (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I am sorry to say it will probably not continue. Telford has been insanely busy with buying a house, and I’ve had a hard time communicating with him at all. I didn’t even talk to him at church yesterday — I saw him in the pews, but somehow I couldn’t find him afterwards before he took off. He says he looked around for me too, but we never connected. It was very aggravating — like when you know your keys are in the living room somewhere, but you just can’t find them. (Only your keys, at least, aren’t going to walk out to the car and drive to Pasadena.)
Last week I sent him an email suggesting we drop the discussion, both because of his distractions and because I’ve been finding the book frustrating. It’s not really the book’s fault — it’s just not a good place for me to start learning about historical Jesus research. As I wrote to him:
As I said on Sunday, a large part of the problem is
the lack of actual historical evidence in the book. If
you saw my posts about this in April, you might have
seen how I’m asking very basic questions: what are the
sources? How reliable are they? How do we know who
wrote them, when they were written? And so on. The
book basically skates over those questions, because
that’s not really its point: it’s about the *meaning*
of Jesus, after all, not the documentation. I think I
need to start with something that deals with those
more fundamental issues….
Another thing I noticed is that you seem to have Borg
and me both under the category of “skeptic.” So if
even the skeptical Borg accepts that the resurrection
happened, I should be impressed.
The problem is, I don’t think Borg is really a
skeptic. He’s a believer in a different version of
Christianity than you and Wright; and he’s actually
pretty shameless about how he’s making his research
fit his beliefs. As you noted in the first chapter,
his pre-Easter/post-Easter thing was all driven by the
fact that he didn’t like the Jesus he got from not
having it. And as I’ve read more of him, I see that
pattern repeating. This whole “Spirit person” concept
is not the work of a skeptic, it’s the work of someone
with a strong belief in how God moves in the world.
Unlike you I don’t dismiss it out of hand, but it’s
obvious how it’s affecting his view of history.
I asked if he could perhaps suggest a different book. He wrote in an email this morning that he’d try to get to it today, though if it follows the usual pattern he’ll probably write me after I’ve gone to bed, so I doubt I’ll have an answer today. At any rate, if I start another book I’ll blog it, but I’ll probably do it, er, Telflessly.
If you’re interested in Marcus Borg, Lynn has her second post up about another one of his books. (The first one was here.) He sounds pretty much like I would expect from what I’ve read, which is interesting but also somewhat at variance with where I’m coming from. I suspect that to an evangelical Christian like Telford, a way-liberal Christian like Borg and a Christian-leaning liberal nonbeliever like me probably look closer together than we are. As Lynn says, Borg writes from the point of view of someone who’s fallen out with traditional Christianity but is trying to find his way back to Jesus; I, however, was never with Jesus and am not going “back,” but going forwards (or trying to).
Anyway, I’ll let you all know what’s going to happen, as soon as I know. Stay tuned, true believers (or true nonbelievers, as the case may be!).