They came, to my surprise, by the hundreds. Serious-minded folks from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco seemed keen to spend an evening listening to two Jesus scholars—Marcus Borg and me—continue in public a decade-long private debate. A snapshot of one moment in that debate had just been published; that was the official reason for the meetings.a But that by itself doesn’t explain the enormous interest.
I should perhaps explain my surprise. Most people where I live (Great Britain), including most churchgoers, are not aware that there is a debate about Jesus and wouldn’t take much notice if they were. True, every year yet another bestseller claims that Jesus was an Egyptian Freemason, a Gnostic proto-Rosicrucian, or an Essene who married, had children, got divorced and wrote John’s gospel. Or something. Those tend to be the books our major chains stock in their Religion sections, alongside the white Bibles and prayer books given as confirmation presents.