Marcus J. Borg is a Professor of Region and Culture at Oregon State University. Including Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, he has written the following books: The God We Never Knew, and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. Borg has been studying and teaching for 35 years at various universities. His specialty is Jesus and the Gospels, but expresses an interest in the Hebrew Bible. Borg has taught both subjects, and much of his book comes from teaching undergraduates. He describes himself as a “nonliteralistic and nonexclusivistic” Christian who lives “within the Christian tradition”. Many of his ideas flow out of life experience. For example, when he was studying the prophet, Amos, in college, Borg says that is a turning point in his faith. He claimed to function as a “closet atheist” before learning of the extremes to which the prophets would go for their cause; he compares them to protestors in the 60’s. Therefore, studying the prophets allowed him to take off his “childhood lense” of the Bible, and see the people of the Bible in a more realistic way. By taking off that “lense”, he became more immersed in the Bible which encouraged him to go to seminary. Throughout Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Borg calls his audience to also take off their “childhood lense”, or way of seeing the Bible, and begin reading it in a different way.
Borg begins his book by stating his major claim that there’s conflict over the Bible’s origin, authority, and overall way of seeing the Bible. He believes it is the most devisive issue in Christianity in North America, and that the conflict centers in two different approaches to reading the Bible: literal/factual and historical/metaphorical.
The literal/factual way of reading the Bible is common among conservative and evangelical Christians. This way of reading takes the Bible literally and factually meaning they believe everything in the Bible actually happened, and that all the words come from God. Moreover, they base the Bible’s authority on its origin. Because they consider the Bible a “divine product”, everything in the Bible is factually true, and should not be questioned. This way of seeing the Bible is based on the traditional way of seeing the Bible. However, a new perspective that rivals tradition has emerged.
The historical/metaphorical way of reading the Bible is taught in seminaries and mainline denominations. This way of reading takes the historical setting and metaphorical meaning of the text into account. Opposite from literal/factual readers, historical/metaphorical readers do not take the Bible literally. Historical/metaphorical readers do not believe the Bible is infallible. However, most people who see the Bible this way often do not know what the Bible’s authority is, or whether or not it comes from God. This way of seeing the Bible is not fully developed. Therefore, Marcus J. Borg seeks to develop this way of seeing the Bible, and describes his subjective point of view through his academic studies, teaching, and church life. For the first three chapters called Part One, he presents the conflict over the Bible and lays down the foundation for developing the historical/metaphorical approach. In Part Two, Borg begins to apply the approach to four main sections of the Hebrew Bible: creations stories, the Pentateuch, the prophets, and wisdom literature. Part Three applies the approach to three main sections of the New Testament: the gospels, Paul, and Revelation. Basically, that is the outline of his book. However, it begins with further detail the two main perspectives of the Bible that are most known to clash according to the author.
The author’s main purpose is to explore the Bible’s significance to Christians. As stated on the cover, his approach is about “taking the Bible seriously without taking it literally.” Borg also states that he feels the traditional interpretation of the Bible that...