658: JUST JESUS #1: by Marcus Borg

To celebrate Zingcreed’s new slogan – Just Jesus, No God! – here’s a new set of pithy summaries of what Jesus is all about.

This new series will reflect in their own words what contemporary commentators think of Jesus. Terence Eagleton and the  Jesus Seminar are up next.

Oregon Professor Marcus J. Borg, who kicks the series off, is sadly no longer with us. His paradigm for seeing Jesus has 5 main elements which he here condenses into 5 sentences. When he really condenses he gives us: “Mystic-healer-wisdom teacher-social prophet-movement initiator.”
This is the spaced out version:

  1. Jesus was a “Spirit person” or “Jewish mystic,” one for whom God or the sacred was an experiential reality, not simply an article of belief; I see this element as foundational for what else Jesus was.
  2. He was a healer and exorcist; in terms of the number of such stories told about him, he is the most remarkable healer in the Jewish tradition.
  3. He was an enlightened Jewish wisdom teacher who, like the authors of Job and Ecclesiastes, taught an unconventional wisdom, a way or path that led beyond conventional ways of  seeing and living.
  4. He was a social prophet (like Amos, Micah, Jeremiah, etc.) who indicted the domination system of his day in the name of the God whose passion is justice.
  5. He was a movement initiator within Judaism; a remarkably egalitarian movement came into existence around him during his lifetime, and its most characteristic public activity was inclusive meal practice.


Source: p.35 of R.J.Miller, ed. “The apocalyptic Jesus. A debate” Polebridge Press (2001)


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