Marcus J. Borg (March 11, 1942 – January 21, 2015) was internationally known in both academic and church circles as a Jesus and biblical scholar, lecturer and author. He often focused his work on what it meant to be a Christian — especially what it meant to be an American Christian in a time of a deeply divided American Christianity.
He authored twenty-one books, several of which became best-sellers. Many are about Jesus. Some are about God, the Bible, the New Testament, the heart of Christianity, and reclaiming Christian language. He also authored a novel whose characters wrestled with these issues. His books have been translated into twelve languages: German, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, French, Swedish, and Russian.
Borg held a doctor’s degree from Oxford University, and he lectured widely overseas (England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Israel, South Africa, Sweden, and Australia) and in North America, including the Chautauqua and Smithsonian institutions.
He served as national chair of the Historical Jesus Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and co-chair of its International New Testament Program Committee, president of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, and a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar.
He taught at Oregon State University for 28 years where he held the Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture at the time of his retirement in 2007. He later served as Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.
His books include Jesus: A New Vision (1987) and the best-seller Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (1994); The God We Never Knew (1997); The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (1999); Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (2001), and The Heart of Christianity (2003), both Publishers Weekly best-sellers. Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (2006), was a New York Times best-seller. Subsequent books include Conversations with Scripture: Mark (2009); his first novel, Putting Away Childish Things (2010); Speaking Christian (2011); Evolution of the Word, a chronological New Testament in which the documents of the New Testament are introduced in the order in which they were written (2012). His 21st book is Convictions: How I Have Learned What Matters Most (2014).
He was the co-author with N. T. Wright of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions; and three books with John Dominic Crossan: The Last Week (2006), The First Christmas (2007), and The First Paul (2009).
Notable facts about Borg’s books
• The God We Never Knew was named “one of the ten best books in religion in 1997” by Publishers Weekly.
• The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, co-authored with N. Thomas Wright, a well-known British New Testament scholar from the conservative side of the spectrum, won the “Best General Interest Book of 1999” award from the Association of Theological Booksellers.
• Reading the Bible Again for the First Time (2001) made Publishers Weekly “ten best selling books in religion.”
• Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary is a New York Times best-selling book.
• The Heart of Christianity (Harper San Francisco, 2003) has been a group study book in hundreds of churches. A very useful study guide for The Heart of Christianity is published by Woodlake Books and authored by Tim Scorer. At 160 pages long, it teaches the book’s themes in twelve sessions, with suggestions for small group formation and activities, a DVD that includes handouts, visuals, and some video. Similar study guides for Reading the Bible Again for the First Time and Jesus are also available from Woodlake Books.