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Death of the Messiah (Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library) Hardcover – 25 Nov 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 2 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell; Box edition (25 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385471777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385471770
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 16.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,466,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This is the most complete study ever written of the gospel accounts of Jesus' Passion and Death,

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
These texts are well done and very thorough research analysis of the scriptures leading to the crucifixion of Christ and the events following his death. They presents relevant associated information and consider the states of mind and the circumstances at the time of the events. They are organized so that research threads can be followed through the texts
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Father Raymond Brown (1928-1998) was perhaps the greatest biblical scholar (certainly the greatest among Catholics) of the 20th century. As he did in his masterful book on the infancy narratives (The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)), in this book (which received both the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur), he turns his keen analytical reasoning to the gospel accounts of Jesus' passion.

Brown describes the primary aim of this book as "to explain in detail what the evangelists intended and conveyed to their audiences by their narratives of the passion and death of Jesus," adding, "I do not think of the evangelists themselves as eyewitnesses of the passion; nor do I think that eyewitness memories of Jesus came down to the evangelists without considerable reshaping and development. Yet as we move back from the gospel narratives to Jesus himself, ultimately there were eyewitnesses and eyewitnesses who were in a position to know the broad lines of Jesus' passion." He candidly admits that "I can scarcely reconstruct how a book of mine published twenty years ago was composed. Therefore, I, for one, cannot hope to reconstruct with great exactitude the interrelationships of the Synoptic Gospels."

The book is filled with Brown's insightful comments: e.g., "Scholars have come to realize that one cannot dismiss Jesus' miracles simply on modern rationalist grounds, for the oldest traditions show him as a healer."; "early Christians had a tradition that before he died Jesus struggled in prayer about his fate."

Brown notes that "We are never told the specific Roman crime for which Pilate gave over Jesus to crucifixion (whether or not he believed Jesus was guilty," and that "Jesus cannot be classified simply as a political revolutionary. He was a troublesome religious figure and was treated as such." He suggests that "Something done and/or said by Jesus prognostic of Temple/sanctuary destruction was at least a partial cause of the Sanhedrin's decision that led to his death."

After reviewing various "medical" accounts of the crucifixion, Brown concludes, "In my judgment the major defect of most of the studies I have reported on thus far is that they were written by doctors who did not stick to their trade and let a literalist understanding of the Gospel accounts influence their judgments on the physical cause of the death of Jesus."

However, many of Brown's conclusions are fairly traditional: e.g., "That Jesus was buried is historically certain ... That the burial was done by Joseph of Arimathea is very probable," and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre "has the best claim to have been the burial place hewn out of rock into which a pious Sanhedrist placed the corpse of the crucified Jesus." He rejects, however, the historicity of Matthew's account of the guards at the tomb, and says that "my judgment is that the various attempts to reconcile the chronological discrepancies between the Synoptics and John are implausible, unnecessary, and misleading. The two Gospel traditions have given us irreconcilable chronological notices. Logically, then, neither or only one set of notices can be historical."

This a very challenging, minutely detailed, and quite enlightening review of all aspects of the death of Jesus, and will be ESSENTIAL READING for anyone interested in the life of Jesus, Catholic biblical studies, and studies of the gospels in general.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Thorough Historical Critique of the Passion Narrative 6 Oct. 1999
By Tron Honto - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was really an incredible work to read through. Though I can understand how one could find parts tedious (those that examine historical contexts and practices relevant to the PN), it is a must read for anyone who desires to find the historical certainty and occurance of the Jesus' death. I do disagree with many conclusions Brown makes; however, I gave it 5 stars just because of the sheer cohesiveness and completeness of the work. It's an enjoyable read. And man, you gotta love those interesting appendicies :)
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful books well done analysis of the scriptures 6 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
These texts are well done and very thorough research analysis of the scriptures leading to the crucifixion of Christ and the events following his death. They presents relevant associated information and consider the states of mind and the circumstances at the time of the events. They are organized so that research threads can be followed through the texts
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Essential Reading To Understand The Passion 23 Sept. 2013
By ApologiaPhoenix - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Raymond Brown years ago wrote a classic two volume set called "Death of the Messiah." He had also written "Birth of the Messiah" and when asked about resurrection, said that that's a piece of work he'd prefer to study later on face-to-face.

Reading through DOTM, I am reminded of how Ronald Nash spoke about Augustine's book "The City of God" and how Augustine said some people might think that he had written too little, to which Nash wanted to know just who those people would be. If anyone said the same about the work of Brown, I'd want to know exactly who those people would be.

If there is one word that could be used to describe this work, it would be exhaustive. Brown will spend pages answering questions about an aspect of the passion narrative that you didn't even know existed. It's hard to think of how a work could be more thorough than the one that Brown has written.

Brown starts with the garden and takes you all the way to the empty tomb and even the story of the guards at the empty tomb. He gives you the scholarly sources at the start that he will be using and then interacts with all the arguments giving an analysis and commenting on whether he thinks a certain portion is historical or not.

Do you want to read about the account of Barabbas? He covers it. Want to know about the darkness at the crucifixion? It's there. Want to know about who the person was who brought Jesus the wine to drink while he was on the cross? It's in there. Want to know what the centurion meant when he said that Jesus was truly God's Son? You'll find that too. Christian readers will be surprised also to find that even the Gospel of Peter is analyzed.

I found some of the most fascinating aspects in the work were not the commentary look at the passion narratives themselves, but rather what happened when he was giving a historical analysis that would be setting the scene prior. The most interesting in my opinion was in looking at the person of Pilate. Pilate often goes down in history as a cruel villain, but perhaps we are misunderstanding him. Brown's work on this topic certainly gave me pause in the way that I had always looked at Pilate.

Another bonus is the appendices at the end that discuss various topics such as the textual transmission of the passion narratives as well as the question of Judas Iscariot and what it was that motivated him in his actions. Brown doesn't always take a side, but he does make sure you know what the sides are.

If there's a downside to this work, it's that Brown's writing can unfortunately be dry at times. After reading page after page on one topic you can kind of want to move on to the next one. Still, it is important if you want to be a dilligent student that you wade through.

Those in the field of NT studies who want to speak about events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus owe it to themselves to read Brown's work. Whether you agree or disagree, you will at least be more informed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a seminary-level text, but don't be put ... 18 Mar. 2015
By Hilary Cable - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a seminary-level text, but don't be put off by it. It's scholarly, but readable. Fr. Brown has helped me see things in the text I didn't notice before and has helped me put the various versions in context. Our priest chose this as the text for our Lenten study; we're not seminarians by any means.
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