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The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem

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Book Overview

Top Jesus scholars Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan join together to reveal a radical and little-known Jesus. As both authors reacted to and responded to questions about Mel Gibson's... This description may be from another edition of this product.

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The Last Week by Marcus Borg

I am now using this book in a group "Bible Study". It is a must read for students of the Bible. It gives a great comprehensive and inspirational study of Jesus' last week and is written with compassion and passion for telling "the story". While it is both challenging and thought-provoking, it does indeed hold true to the mission and meaning of Jesus' life and ministry.

A Must Read

For me The Last Week is a must read for a preacher who takes seriously the Markan text as it relates to the religious-political setting within which it arose. For too long we Christians have defanged Mark's gospel by ignoring its assault on the power elite of Jesus' day, including the Roman oppressors and their religious-leader collaborators. But Mark wrote of more than what we might warmly encapsulate as spirituality: he excoriated against religious legitimating of the domination system that has shaped and misshaped human lives for millennia... and which shows up in more refined, perhaps thereby more demonic, ways in our Pax Americana world. Not that any of that is abnormal in human history. To the contrary, that's `how the world works'... which is quite the opposite of how the Reign of God works. In the mind of Borg-Crossan, Mark's Jesus suggested this with his ragtag parade by donkey on Palm Sunday, as he approached from the east. His action posed a dramatic contrast to Pilate's ceremonious, leather-slapping, hoofed clomping, military procession into Jerusalem for Passover, which would have come the west. So, Mark's Jesus puts himself into a collision course with Roman authority (and the collaborating religious institutions), hence, the cross. That's not the Palm Sunday sermon I remember from growing up in Orlando, Florida. If you wish to keep your religious world as it is, do not open this book. However, if you wish to encounter an understanding of Jesus that will expand your perceptions and possibly transform your Christian experience, you cannot pass it by.

Destined for Execution

"Two processions entered Jerusalem on a spring day in the year 30. It was the beginning of the week of Passover." From the East came a peasant procession with Jesus of Nazareth riding on a donkey and cheered by his followers. From the West came the Roman governor of Idumea, Pontius Pilate, who had come up from Caesarea Maritima. That the two processions occurred on the same day is not recorded in the Bible and, in fact, the two processions may not have happened on the same day. However the Roman governor did travel from Caesarea Maritima for festivals such as Passover. Most of all, for Mark, the procession of Jesus was clearly counter to the procession of Pilate. The inevitable confrontation may be described as the "domination system" which had developed in Jerusalem. Borg and Crossan explain that domination system is a shorthand for political oppression, economic exploitation, and religious legitimation. Jerusalem had become a society where only a few ruled, the monarch, the nobility, and the wealthy. A high percentage of the society's wealth came from agriculture. Structures of laws of land ownership, taxation, and indenture of labor, put between a half and two-thirds of all of the wealth into the coffers of the few. In ancient societies, these structures were legitimized by religious language: the monarch ruled by divine right and the social order was the will of God. The day after Jesus made his procession into Jerusalem, he drove the moneychangers from the Temple and aroused the severe wrath of the temple priests. The next day, Tuesday, was a day of challenges. Jesus returns to Jerusalem. As he is walking Jesus is challenged by the chief priests, scribes, and elders who want to know the authority he has for committing his prophetic act in the Temple. Jesus parries and asks about the authority of John the Baptist. Most readers know the story and know that the priests lose face. If that were not enough Jesus counterchallenges with the parable about the vineyard. Borg and Crossan emphasize that the priests et al realize that that parable was spoken against them. So was Jesus destined for execution? From the point of view of the will of God, Borg and Crossan maintain an emphatic negative response: "It is never the will of God that a righteous man be crucified." Judas did not *have* to betray Jesus. The Temple priests did not *have* to seek execution. (There is a similar story in Josephus of another who preached against the Temple. Interestingly this other man was only flogged.) Rather it was the inevitability of the domination system that sent Jesus to death. Borg and Crossan wonder what it was about Jesus and his followers that so provoked the authorities. Certainly the death of Jesus stunned his followers. Borg and Crossan find various ways for the followers of Jesus to come to grips with this within the New Testament and in subsequent centuries. For example, many Christians believe that the real reason (substitutionary atonement)

An important new approach to understanding Jesus's message

This book is far more than just two prominent biblical scholars combining to tell us what they think "really" happened during Easter week. Rather, Borg and Crossan focus their skills on what they call a much "simpler" and "humbler" task: retelling and explaining "the last week of Jesus's life as given in the Gospel According to Mark. . . a story everyone thinks they know too well and most do not seem to know at all." Virtually every biblical scholar agrees that Mark's gospel is the first to be written, but anyone who thinks that its author viewed Jesus's passion and death as an atonement for our sins and the way to heaven for those who "accept" that fact simply MUST read this book. It represents a genuine step forward in understanding the New Testament on its own terms, rather than on the terms that we today impose on it.

Timely, Thoughtful, Well Researched and Written

If you are looking for well researched insights, interpretations, and translations of current and historical contexts for the meanings of biblical parables and perhaps more importantly the historical contexts of St. Mark's gospel, read this timely and well researched interpretation of the Passion of Christ and the details related to the 7 days from Palm (Passion) Sunday to Easter Sunday by Borg & Crossan. Whether you are researching or interested in the fundamental roots of Christianity or curious about the historical context of the Roman and Jewish framework of the times surrounding the events of easter week you will not be disappointed by the scholarly research and interpretations presented regarding the 'cipher' meanings embedded in St. Mark's account. I truly enjoyed the author's viewpoints expressed and this book is a welcome addition to the bookshelf of those who are interested in the probable nature of how these events transpired.
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