I’ve just finished reading The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. It’s an interesting book, based on a very close reading of the account in Mark’s gospel of Jesus’s last week.
The book brings out, rather brilliantly, the conflict between Jesus and the political ‘domination system’ of the time (that’s academic speak for ‘the Romans’). They picture this vividly, by contrasting two processions arriving in Jerusalem – the Roman Governor Pilate entering the city from the west, and Jesus entering in triumph from the east, from the Mount of Olives. It’s a wonderful picture – and one which I have never read before but which must have been the case. This depiction of Jesus in his political context is fascinating. The authors reveal many details about Jesus and the society of his time which I found extremely enlightening.
Of course, from two such liberal scholars there are bound to be some irritations. The book is a little repetitive at times, and the discussion guide at the back is pretty useless. They tend to set up straw men, making very generalised comments about ‘what orthodox Christians believe’, simply so they can easily demolish them. (For example their statement that ‘probably more people have left the church because of biblical literalism than for any other reasons’. They then admit that they have no evidence for this whatsoever other than their own experience. I’d argue that most people leave the church because it becomes inconvenient for them, or because it’s just dull. But then, that’s just my experience.)
In the end, however, the questions they pose are extremely important; not just ‘do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour?’ but also ‘do you accept Jesus as your political Lord and Saviour?’ Or, to put it another way, which procession are you in?
You can [buy it here->http://astore.amazon.co.uk/thelibraroflo-21/detail/0060872608/203-2872217-5827165] or [read an excerpt here->http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780060845391/The_Last_Week/excerpt.aspx]