A giant has fallen. Pulmonary fibrosis brought down 72-year-old Marcus Borg on Wednesday January 21, 2015. Borg entered the world stage with his work with the Jesus Seminar—a project that grabbed international headlines as a collective of scholars came together to vote on each saying and deed of Jesus in the Gospels to determine if it was authentic of the historical Jesus. His work in this area made him known as one of the fathers of the modern Quest for the Historical Jesus. While many members of the Jesus Seminar have been accused of attacking the faith of the church, Borg steadfastly maintained a belief in God, according to his memoir, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, published in 2014.
Even after retiring in 2007 from Oregon State University, where he had taught since 1979, he still maintained an active publication life and in fact was planning to write a column for BAR at the time of his death. Borg was trend-setting by often writing not for the academy, but for the general public and bringing the scholarship of the day to the people. Leif Vaage, also of the Jesus Seminar, commented that Borg “certainly demonstrated how a Biblical scholar could be in conversation with both the tradition of modern academic Biblical scholarship and open to the encompassing world.”