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Death of the Messiah: v. 1 (Anchor Bible Reference Library) Paperback – 1 Jul 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell; 1st Paperback Ed edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385494483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385494489
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.9 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,403,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a great book! He goes through all the various issues (including whether the Sanhedrin had the right to impose capital punishment - an issue it is difficult to find works on) in a clear way and with impeccable scholarship. As easy to read for the layman as the theological scholar, because unlike some writers, R E Brown doesn't go overboard on his use of biblical languages.
A very useful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aquinas on 27 Oct 2007
Format: Hardcover
The two volumes on the passion narratives represent Brown at his best and modern biblical scholarship at its best. One of the key insights I came away with from reading these volumes was how each gospel is like a lense through which we view Christ. We see him from one angle (Mark and Matthew - "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani"), then another ("Into your hands I commend my spirt") and finally in the high christology of John ("It is consummated"). Like different camera shots, the gospels show us different facets of he who is True God/True Man.

In John, Jesus is always regal, he is always in control, he lays down his life, no one takes it from him. When he is arrested, he says "I am" and the soldiers all fall down at his words, a recognition of the presence of the Divine. In the synoptics, he is frail - Simon carries the cross for him; in John he carries his cross himself. In the trial scene in John he is the absolute master of events, the soul of Pilate is really on trial, Jesus is his judge.

There is much much more in this. Read and your view of the passion naratives will be changed and matured forever.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You may not need to read much more than this on the crucifixion & resurrection of the carpenter from Nazareth
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
The best resource on the 36 hours before the crucifixion 21 Feb 2002
By Dr. Marc Axelrod - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's hard to believe that a guy could write 1500 some pages on 36 hours of a person's life. Yet it makes for fascinating reading, and Father Brown leaves few stones unturned in his penetrating look at the final hours of Jesus' earthly ministry. In volume one, he discusses the relationships between the first three gospels and the gospel of John, and then he proceesed on to a discussion of each gospel's passion narrative. Father Brown's main agenda is to get at the meaning of the biblical text as it stands. This is not to say that Brown shys away from discussing the historicity of a particular passage. Sometimes, he swims against the stream by leaving open the possibility of the historicity of a story (eg. that there really was a Jewish and a Roman trial of Jesus). And occasionally, he sees the passion stories as powerful metaphors rather than something that actually happened (cf John 18, when the crowd falls to the ground when Jesus says 'I am He.") Yet He is also rightfully skeptical about modern attempts to reconstruct what actually happened 1970 years ago. He prefers to let the text of scripture speak for itself.
This book is a huge, academic tome, and as rich and informative as it is, the reader better be prepared to make heavy weather of it. You could spend lots of extra time mining extra information out of all the footnotes and bibliographical references that Brown cites. But I could hardly recommend any other source for people who want to know more about the passion of Christ.
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
The SUMMA of Passion scholarship 6 Mar 2001
By A. Hogan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The late Fr. Raymond Brown,S.S.,of blessed memory, was the greatest scripture scholar this country has produced. Eriudite,brilliant,evenhanded,he searched for the truth,not easy answers. His BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH{which I still have as a $5.95 trade paperback from 1978},set the tsandard of modern american scripture scholarship. In this, the first of 2 volumes{as part of the magnificent ANCHOR BIBLE LIBRARY},Fr. Brown begins his passions study from the moment the Last supper begins. He open each section with a literal translation of the 4 gospels, then gives his commentary. With the massive footnotes,{and Brown's footnotes are more interesting then most studies},literally hundreds of pages of Bibliography,Fr. Brown dissects line by line,the content of each passage. Some of his insights are casually stunning{in all the scriptures there is only one other suicide besides Juds mentioned, that in II Samuel},his belief in the HISTORICAL accuracy of John's gospel,his hundreds of casual asides{the difference in the conjugation of certain verbs,one leaving Jesus passive, the other suggesting a proactive Jesus] These are just minor nuggets. This study will take one a long time to read,to digest. It is NOT an easy read.It is INFINITELY REWARDING. Raymond Browns scholarship far exceeds my ability to praise.Taken together, these two volumes are a testament to the faith and scholarship and brilliance of this man. BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Serious contemplation of the passion of Christ 4 Feb 2002
By Jeanine Narayanan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The late Ray Brown is one of the most highly respected Christian scholars of our time. Although he was Roman Catholic his work is regarded very highly among non-Catholic scholars and he was a passionate but fearlessly clear thinker with a lucid and beautiful writing style.
This work is the culmination of a lifetime of serious study and contemplation of the four canonical Gospels. In it he contrasts and compares in great detail the passion stories as they play out in the three so-called synoptic gospels and the fourth, the Gospel of John.
This two-volume work is certainly not an "easy read" but is indeed rewarding and manageable by any general layperson with the will to perservere in study. For example, unlike some works of no greater scholarly attainment, it does not presuppose a knowledge of ancient languages, and can be read in isolation (with occasional use of a Bible), not sending you round to find background studies to try to make sense of what you are reading. I would recommend this work highly to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Passion of Christ.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
"Destroy This Temple, and I Will Raise It Up In Three Days." 12 Dec 2004
By Thomas J. Burns - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Suffice to say that this two-volume work is the definitive English treatment of Biblical scholarship on the Passion Narratives. Prescinding a moment from the sacred matter of the study, one has to be impressed with the author's command of Biblical scholarship in several contemporary languages, not to mention the intricacies of ancient Greek, Latin, and Aramaic. He is well versed in the history of Biblical scholarship dating to Jerome and Augustine. Father Brown knows his academic peers, their methodologies, emphases, and biases. He is blunt in his praises and criticisms of others working the field. This work is a tribute to Father Brown's single-minded devotion to his field.

The first volume of 900 pages treats of the Gethsemanae events through the condemnation of Christ by Pilate. Brown poses the existence of one or possibly a few distinct and original oral Passion accounts. The Last Supper and the Resurrection accounts are both excluded from this study, as the author believes that the meal with the Twelve and the mysterious empty tomb/apparition accounts come from other distinct early Christian sources. The style is considerably more expository than inspirational, though for such a highly technical work the narrative flow is quite adequate. A reader with little time or theological background might do well to read Father Brown's "A Crucified Christ in Holy Week," a 70-page reflection on the author's study of the Passion.

Father Brown's work continues the tradition of "redaction criticism" of the New Testament, perhaps the predominant methodology of the past half-century. Redaction criticism contrasts the four stories of the Christ by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to discern a particular philosophy or theology of Christ unique to that author or his community. The Matthean Christ, for example, emerges as the New Moses; the Markan Christ as the unique prophet of a new age of forgiveness, etc. There is some subtle development of redaction conclusions in the work at hand. Father Brown does not believe it is possible to identify the Gospel authors with certainty. From a historical vantage point, the best one can say is that the nuclei of the Gospel accounts, including the Passion tradition[s], originated in early Christian circles, somewhere between 30-60 A.D. Father Brown's work tends to smooth or ameliorate what had been sharply defined boundaries between the evangelists. He tends throughout his treatment to pair Mark and Matthew, in gentle opposition to Luke. He even makes attempts to find common ground in Mark and John, something my professors of the early 1970's rarely attempted.

Father Brown puts more energy into finding bridges between the Gospel narratives and Hebrew Scripture accounts. Thus he underscores the remarkable cohesion of the Christian tradition of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemanae and the story of David's flight from Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 15ff. If the reader takes the time to examine the 2 Samuel text, the parallels are uncanny. The roots of the Judas character, a covey of conspirators, and a mental/spiritual agony on the Mount of Olives are compiled there. In fact, there are even traces of Jesus' warnings to the Apostles in 2 Samuel 15:14-15. The author concludes that the death of Jesus can be understood only in the context of Jewish history, and that the primitive oral account or accounts of the Passion were formulated with considerable influence from the Hebrew Scripture.

The centerpiece of this volume is the judicial action against Jesus. Father Brown establishes that the Sanhedrin owned its maximum responsibility for Jesus' fate, and that likewise Pilate owned his maximum responsibility as well. It was not the Romans who initiated charges against Jesus. Politically speaking, Roman-Jewish relations were as tranquil as they had ever been or ever would be. Any idea that Jesus was prosecuted for political subversion is dismantled. Pilate's condemnation was an unusual but not unheard of acquiescence to the wishes of the Sanhedrin.

On the contrary, Jesus died for religious reasons, specifically issues of Jewish theology and practice. The Sanhedrin did not wish to crucify Jesus for doing kindly deeds or attracting crowds. Rather, it was Jesus' powerful rebuke of the contemporary practice of temple-based Jewish life and worship that placed a cross upon the shoulders of the Christ. There is a progression of prophetic criticism from Jesus' lips of legalism, ritualism, casuistry, exclusivity, and spiritual malaise in all four Gospel biographies. Earlier in Jesus' ministry the rebukes seemed to hold forth the hope that current Jewish practice could be reformed. But on the eve of Passover, Jesus' prediction that he himself could destroy the Temple and raise it in three days constituted wholesale blasphemy as heard by Jewish elders. For as Father Brown implies, Jewish leaders who heard this declaration understood it more clearly than later Christians who interpreted it metaphorically. [Recall Matthew's remark that at the moment of his death the curtain of the Holy of Holies-the heart of the cult-was rent from top to bottom.] Jesus was indeed testifying that the Temple cult was dead. Obviously, this kind of thinking and preaching was untenable and demanded the strongest of responses.

Father Brown has never in his lengthy career felt restrained by Jewish sensitivities to water down his belief that the Sanhedrin is primarily responsible for Jesus' death. But neither has any scholar of my acquaintance gone to greater pains to underscore the existential nature of Jesus' condemnation: it was this Sanhedrin, at this point in time, in this political environment that condemned Jesus. The author sharply condemns any broader generalizations of an anti-Semitic nature. It is true, however, that the author's works on the community of the Evangelist John tend to elaborate sufferings of later Christian communities at the hands of their former Jewish comrades in faith. Does this point of view influence Father Brown's treatment of the Sanhedrin in this work? Good scholars may argue this point, but no one can disagree that Father Brown has done his homework. In spades.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A Scholarly Study of the Passion Narrative 24 Jun 2000
By George R Dekle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The depth of Brown's scholarship is marvelous. Brown parses and analyzes each verse of every gospel story with insight and precision. It is a testament to his even-handedness that he draws criticism from the religious right as well as the avant garde iconoclasts who inhabit the left wing of modern Biblical scholarship. If you're looking for an easy read, look elsewhere. The student must invest a good deal of effort in reading and understanding this book, but the diligent student will find the reward well worth the extra effort.
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