Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

Article excerpt

Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. By Marcus Borg. (New York: Harper Collins, 2012, Pp. vii, 593. $29.99.)

While Marcus Borg's Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written is not a completely new idea, his execution is far superior to anything else available in its scholarly approach, historical explication, and accessibility of prose to academics and laypersons alike. Evolution of the Word is divided into two sections: Borg's explanation of his scholarly approach and historical context followed by the New Testament arranged chronologically. By placing the documents in chronological order Borg demonstrates how the understanding of the "Word of God," including both scriptural texts and the person ofjesus Christ, evolved in the historical period following the death ofjesus. Borg argues that reading these documents in chronological order offers several insights. They shed light on the life of early Christian communities through Paul's seven genuine letters, which are placed first in the chronology. Additionally, placing the gospels after Paul's letters demonstrates how the gospels are the product, rather than the source, of early Christianity. Chronological ordering shows how first and second century Christians' understanding of Jesus and his significance developed over time. Borg attends to three particular contexts in this chronological orientation: Jesus and early Christianity, Judaism, and the Roman Empire, which serve as concentric lenses for the material. Borg also explores how memory and oral tradition were a communal process in the early Christian communities and how that process is manifest in the historical record. …

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