Marcus Borg, Liberal Christian Scholar, Dies at 72

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Marcus Borg

Marcus J. Borg, a scholar who popularized a liberal intellectual approach to Christianity with his lectures and books about Jesus as a historical figure, died on Wednesday at his home in Powell Butte, Ore. He was 72.

His publisher, HarperOne, said the cause was idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Professor Borg was among a group of scholars, known as the Jesus Seminar, who set off an uproar with its very public efforts to discern collectively which of Jesus’ acts and utterances could be confirmed as historically true, and which were probably myths.

His studies of the New Testament led him not toward atheism but toward a deep belief in the spiritual life and in Jesus as a teacher, healer and prophet. Professor Borg became, in essence, a leading evangelist of what is often called progressive Christianity.

He came to the fore in the late 1980s and early ’90s, just as a conservative brand of evangelical Christianity was gaining adherents in America and emerging as a political force. He was among those who helped provide the theological foundation for liberals who were pushing back, defining Jesus as a champion of justice for the poor and marginalized....

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