Thursday, June 07, 2018

Discussing "Evolution of the Word" by Marcus Borg

In Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written, scholar Marcus J. Borg presents the books of the New Testament in chronological order. Borg attempts to show the development of the concepts of Jesus as the Word of God and the words of God (as in the writings that became the New Testament). Borg places the books and letters of the NT in the order he thinks they were originally written:
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • Galatians
  • 1 Corinthians
  • Philemon
  • Philippians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Romans
  • Mark
  • James
  • Colossians
  • Matthew
  • Hebrews
  • John
  • Ephesians
  • Revelation
  • Jude
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Luke
  • Acts
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Peter
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • 2 Peter
Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of some of his dating here, though I will grant that I need to do further research. I know that scholars are divided over these details just like they are over everything else. My biggest complaint with this book is how Borg will present his opinion as fact, and doesn't provide footnotes or references of any kind in order to fact check him.

I did stumble across this resource while doing some preliminary digging: Dating the Books of the New Testament: A Chronological Order of the New Testament 

But anyway, you can listen to me discuss Borg's book on the Reclaiming Christianity podcast with John Weldy and Jason M. Armold. We are doing a 6 part series and we have recorded the first two so far.

Listen to part 1 episode here.

Listen to "35: Evolution of the Word, part 1" on Spreaker.

Listen to part 2 episode here.

Listen to "39: Evolution of the Word, pt2" on Spreaker.
(Subscribe on iTunes)

Panelists: Jennifer Neyhart, Jason M. Armold

The Panel gives their book recommendations:
2 Corinthians
  • Borg says this was not a single letter, but rather a combination of at least 3 (101) 1-7, 8-9, 10-13
  • I note that Luke Timothy Johnson seems to agree…“No manuscript evidence supports this hypothesis, but a number of seams in the letter appear to some readers incompatible with its being a unitary composition.”
  • Important to remember that these letters were not written directly to us in our 21st century time and place. They were written to a specific audience back then located in their specific time and place.
  • “For Paul, “salvation” was not primarily about an afterlife, but about transformation this side of death—the transformation of ourselves and of “this world.” Justification by grace through faith is not about how we get to heaven, but how we are transformed here and now.” (122)
  • “Faith for Paul was about loyalty to and trust in Christ, not about believing a set of statements to be true.” (123)
  • “Even more striking is the number of women’s names. Of the twenty-eight individuals mentioned, ten are women. Of the eleven singled out for special praise, five are women. Paul uses the Greek verb for dedicated apostolic activity to refer to four of these women. One, Junia, is spoken of as “prominent among the apostles.” Leadership by women was a fact in early Christ-communities. Not only did Paul not challenge it; he obviously approved of it.” (125)
  • The majority of scholars think the gospel did originally end with 16:8 (p153)
  • “Is imminent eschatology an extension of what Jesus taught? Or is it the product of early Christian testimony, enthusiasm, and conviction?”

  • “The majority of scholars do not think the author was the brother of Jesus.” (p193)
  • Martin Luther tried to remove it from the NT
  • “James echoes more sayings of Jesus than any document in the NT other than the gospels themselves.” (195)
Panelist Goodbye - Where can people find you?

Jennifer: JenniferNeyhart.com
Jason M. Armold:

Theology Book Club:
June: Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
July: Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

If you would like to join the Facebook Group you can click here to email me. Or click over to the Theology Book Club page and submit the contact form you will find there.

This is a link to an Amazon list of the books we have been reading/will be reading in the book club.

Previous episodes that I have been on:
36. Two Views of Jesus (Why I Left, Why I Stayed by Tony and Bart Campolo)
35: Evolution of the Word by Marcus Borg, part 1
30. Axioms of Faith (Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue)
29. The Cosmic Christ (Love Wins by Rob Bell)
27. Women and Evangelicalism (Rescuing Jesus by Deborah Jian Lee)
20. Living Through a Faith Shift (What is the Bible? by Rob Bell)
19. God and the American Empire (What is the Bible? by Rob Bell)
18. Anakephalaiossathai (What is the Bible? by Rob Bell)

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