The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’s Final Week in Jerusalem

Taking Mark, the earliest Gospel, as their guide, Borg and Crossan “retell a story everyone thinks they know too well and most do not seem to know at all.” So doing, they offer an alternative passion of the Christ, the primary feature of which is not suffering (Latin passio) but passion understood Anglophonically as “consuming interest, dedicated enthusiasm, or concentrated commitment.” Jesus’ passion was the kingdom of God declared in terms of God’s justice, they say, and the fact that such declaration was seen, despite Jesus’ nonviolence, as a threat to the system of domination by Rome and its wealthy Jewish collaborators led to his suffering. Borg and Crossan parse Mark’s reportage (so to speak) on the days from Palm Sunday to Easter to demonstrate the challenges Jesus made to Roman and Herodian-temple rule. They point up Jesus’ insistence on justice, especially equitable distribution of necessities, and such too-little-noticed matters as Jesus’ great popularity, attested by the crowds who hang on his words and his adversaries’ fears of angering those crowds; so fearful are they that they must find a traitor, seize Jesus at night, and whisk him through the courts. Written with Crossan’s scholarly scintillation rather than Borg’s sometimes plodding earnestness, this is politically concerned analysis of Christianity at its best.

Ray Olson
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