September 29, 2008
Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan will be back at Al Saints’ in December for a program we are co sponsoring with the Dykes Foundation (http://www.faithandreason.org/index2.php). They will focus on the work in their book The First Christmas which is something of a sequel to The Last Week. They have some helpful insights into the theological meaning of the birth and infancy narratives calling them ‘parabolic prologues’ to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. They do some thorough work on the genealogies, making sense not only of their content but also of their placement within the stories. They also continue working effectively on their theme that Jesus was in some respects a ‘counter-Emperor’ whose claims were true in contrast to those of the Caesar. They do address the (differing) ways in which Matthew and Luke make use of the Old Testament, but fulfillment of Jewish expectation is not their primary theme. For a contrast to these views (although not a contradiction) you might try N. T. Wright in Jesus and the Victory of God.
Borg and Crossan are also good on emphasizing the Jewish context for reading and understanding the gospels. This is very much the theme of our series of classes called ‘This Rabbi and Jesus’ which got underway yesterday taught by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin. He leads a community called Kol Echad and you can learn more about it here: http://judaismmatters.org/ His sclasses are themselves intended as a preparation for this year’s Ann Evans Woodall lecture to take place on the Thursday following All Saints’ Sunday. This year the lecturer will be Amy Jill Levine (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/gradschool/religion/faculty/facultypages/levine.html) whose most recent book is The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (Harper, 2006). Altogether this fall provides a feast as we consider Jesus’ question to Peter in Mark 8, “Who do you say that I am?”