As mentioned in an earlier post, the Top 5 books that influenced the way I read the Bible are not in priority order. However, I did follow a chronological order, which gets me to Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith, first published in 2003. Most readers of this blog probably know of Borg. He is a historical Jesus scholar, a member of the Jesus Seminar, and has spent the latter part of his career reaching out to an audience that can no longer accept much of what is considered traditional Christianity.
Borg is a master teacher. If you've ever seen him in person, you know he makes sure his audience follows his line of thinking, clearly defining the concepts and ideas in his lecture. His writing follows a similar pattern. In the Heart of Christianity, he packages systematic theology into a structure that is logical, and he writes carefully to set out his view of an emerging paradigm that differs sifnificantly from fundamentalist/evangelical approaches to faith and the Bible.
One of my favorite quotes relates to scripture and how it can be sacred though not a divine product. He writes of the Bible: "It is sacred in its status and function, but not in its origin." Much critical scholarship is focused on the academy; Borg's work takes seriously the work of scholars, but shows how the historical-critical methods can be put to work inside the community of faith.