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The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library) [Paperback]

By Raymond E. Brown (Author)
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Item description for The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library) by Raymond E. Brown...

Yale University Press Publication Over his illustrious career, Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Ph.D., was internationally regarded as a dean of "New Testament" scholars. He was Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, received over thirty honorary degrees from Catholic and Protestant universities worldwide, and was elected a (Corresponding) Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition to serving as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Society of New Testament Studies, two popes appointed Father Brown as the sole American on the Pontifical Biblical Commission.Some of the best known of his more than thirty-five books on the Bible are three volumes in the "Anchor Bible" series on the Gospel and Epistles of John, as well as the Anchor Bible Reference Library volumes "The Birth of the Messiah", "The Death of the Messiah", and "An Introduction to the New Testament", winner of the 1998 Catholic Press Association Award for Biblical Studies. Father Brown's untimely death on August 8, 1998, saddened all who knew him.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   752
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.28" Width: 6.24" Height: 1.93"
Weight:   1.86 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1999
Publisher   Yale University Press
Edition  Updated  
Series  Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library  
ISBN  0300140088  
ISBN13  9780300140088  

Availability  0 units.

More About Raymond E. Brown

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Raymond E. Brown, S.S., taught for many years at Saint Mary's Seminary in Baltimore and was Professor of Biblical Studies at the Union Theological Seminary for two decades. He was the author of three books in the Anchor Bible series on the Gospels and Epistles of John and wrote the classic Anchor Bible Reference Library volumes The Birth of the Messiah, The Death of the Messiah, and An Introduction to the New Testament. He died in 1998.

Francis J. Maloney, S.D.B., is Katherine Drexel Chair for Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Among his many distinguished books are The Gospel of John, A Hard Saying: The Gospel and Culture, and The Gospel of Mark.

Raymond E. Brown was born in 1935.

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)?

Delves Into the Infancy Narratives  Jan 8, 2009
In "The Birth of the Messiah," Raymond Brown examines the four gospel chapters--two in Matthew, two in Luke--that convey the otherwise untold story of the birth and infancy of Jesus. The narratives are treated, passage by passage, with both extensive remarks on the interpretation of the Greek texts and general comments addressing Old Testament allusions, putative sources, and the place of each passage in the evangelist's theology. Through his meticulous readings, Brown reveals how Matthew and Luke have portrayed "the gospel in miniature" and present Jesus as continuous with God's ongoing plan of salvation.

Brown's scholarship is impeccable; his careful consideration of all sides of a given issue makes his own reasoning both transparent and compelling. It is worth emphasizing that, though this book does wrestle with historical-critical questions, the historicity of the infancy narratives is not its primary concern. Rather, Brown wants to explore the significance of these stories to the men who wrote them down, and why the evangelists presented the stories the way they did. This is ultimately to the book's advantage; for, after evaluating the possibilities, the viewpoint Brown expresses is one more nuanced than the dogma of either skepticism or belief can provide.

A great book  Jan 24, 2006
Part of the Anchor Bible Reference Library, this is an excellent book in which Raymond Brown provides an in-depth treatment of the NT infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke. The format of the book is standard for the Anchor Bible series: the author translates a segment of the Greek NT text, provides notes on his translation, and then comments on the meaning of the text. There are nine appendices on technical issues (e.g., "Birth at Bethlehem", "The Census under Quirinius"). Also, this edition contains a supplement that updates the work to 1992 (Brown died in 1998). The treatment is scholarly but readable, and, for passages in the NT that have given rise to controversy in the past, Brown tries to give a balanced exposition of the opposing views (and he usually states what his personal opinion is). There is an enormous amount of interesting material packed into this book, as Brown canvasses much of the relevant literature.

The book has the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur declarations that the book is free of doctrinal or moral errors (from the point of view of the Roman Catholic church), but Brown's Catholicism doesn't color the book excessively. For example, he admits that it is unlikely Mary took a vow of virginity, and also that the "brothers of Jesus" were probably his brothers in the usual biological sense. More generally, Brown openly recognizes the historical improbability of certain events (such as the visit of the Magi), and doesn't strain to impose dubious harmonizations on the infancy stories or to concoct interpretations meant to uphold the literal truth of the NT. The one place where he draws a line is on the virgin conception itself; he claims that it is unscientific to reject it as impossible a priori.

The supplement makes for lively reading, since Brown describes some of the negative reviews received by the first edition of the book and engages in a bit of polemic as he re-argues his position on certain topics. However, he doesn't descend to vituperation, even when provoked.

Overall, a great book and an excellent source of references for further reading.
The Most Comprehensive Volume About The Birth Of Christ  Nov 19, 2005
In his lifetime, Raymond Brown was considered one of the foremost biblical scholars. His scholarship certainly changed Catholic biblical studies and many believe he is responsible for making the academic world at large take notice of what scholars writing from a Catholic perspective have to offer the study of scripture. His comprehensive THE BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH is one of his monumental works that demonstrates his expertise and adds something Catholic that can be used in a "catholic" (universal) sense.

When Brown first published this book in the mid 1970's, he was attempting to do something for a beloved portion of scripture that was often ignored. For the most part, serious scholarship on the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke was almost nil. Traditional scholars avoided it fearing that scholarship could debunk the stories themselves. Less traditional scholars saw the stories as legend that had little or no relevance for serious scholars. Brown rejected both points of view and chose to see the stories form a different point of view. Brown studies the Annunciation, the Magi, the Shepherds, the Flight to Egypt, the Child Jesus in the Temple, and the other narratives that make up these imaginative chapters of scripture and views them not as fanciful tales or legends, but the Gospel in miniature. The stories included in Luke and Matthew are essential to the Gospel story and essential for understanding the story itself. Since the time of this volume's publication, this has become one of the common interpretations of the Infancy narratives.

The book is not without controversy. One example would be Brown's treatment of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. While Brown in many ways exalts the role of Mary as a disciple, it is not a pious reflection on Mary which has caused some readers to claim Brown disputes the Virgin birth. I'm not sure this is true, especially given some of Brown's other writings and talks widely available, if not in publication certainly in libraries. This is why the reader needs to keep in mind what Brown is attempting to do in this volume: present relevant scholarship on the infancy narratives.

I have grown to love the book for a number of reasons. There is so much material in it, I am always discovering something new. This is important for anyone who has to preach on these texts. Not only can a new angle or understanding be found in this volume, it also helps the reader find personal insights for reflection and prayer, which during the time when these texts are preached can be so important. Brown's volume shows that the Birth of Christ was not just a historical event but one that has meaning today and in all ages.
A Tale of Two Narratives  Aug 20, 2005
How should Christians contend with alleged contradictions, inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies in the New Testament? Perhaps many have not confronted the difficulties, while assuming that ultimately a satisfactory answer will emerge that justifies confidence in the Greek scriptures. The late Raymond E. Brown was not content to leave it to future scholarship to provide the answers. Only two gospels, Matthew and Luke, discuss the birth and infancy of Jesus. But scholars have raised questions that challenge the credibility of these narratives. Why do the genealogies not match? Why do the other New Testament writers not mention the virgin birth? What prophets said that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene? Why does Luke imply the family returned to Nazareth shortly after the birth of Jesus, while Matthew has the family fleeing to Egypt before returning? The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem is not mentioned in secular history although other atrocities are recorded. Can the son of David be reckoned through the mother? These and other questions have provided ammunition for critics against the veracity of the New Testament.

Brown discusses these matters and more in detail. He provides non-conventional solutions while maintaining his Catholicism. This book should help the Christian understand the issues raised by doubters and help them reflect on what they believe and why they believe it. One does not have to agree with Brown's conclusions to appreciate the struggle with the history and theology of the narratives. Do the narratives have a common source, or are they separate traditions pre-dating the main body of each gospel? Read Brown's The Birth of the Messiah for some proposed answers. Recommended for lay Christians who have not seriously considered the challenges to their faith.
Magisterial  Apr 10, 2002
I was reluctant when this tome about the infancy narratives had been recommended, and after the first chapter discovered this was no ordinary book. There are myriads of commentaries, but none like this! This book elaborates at length on the short gospel narratives of the birth of Jesus, and how the NT authors had woven OT material into those narratives. It elaborates on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary: not as some wench who did as God told her, but as the first disciple of Christ to say Yes to the call of God; not merely a mother to Christ, but the Mother of the people of God by her fiat. For those who already believe, and even for those who don't, it elaborates why the incarnation is such an awesome historial event, not only in human history, but in salvation history.

Fr. Brown writes with erudition, and, while his audience is scholarly, even novices can read these gems with considerable ease. I initially intended to read the book straight through, but the density and intensity of the material suggested that a more devotional, gradual read would be more beneficial. I admit this is hard to do, because once embarked, these insights propel one to read as much as one can as fast as one can. However you decide to read it, I cannot think of a better introduction, as well as advanced scholarship, that will not leave one unchanged.


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