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

R Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Dec 2007 Anchor Bible Reference
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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The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Anchor Bible Reference) + The Death of the Messiah, from Gethsemane to the Grave: v. 2: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels (Anchor Bible Reference) + The Death of the Messiah, from Gethsemane to the Grave: v. 1: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels (Anchor Bible Reference)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Updated edition (3 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300140088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300140088
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 4.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"One of the premier events in biblical publishing. . . . One thing is sure: This book will become a classic study of the nature and message of the infancy narratives."-The Bible Today

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive Commentary 5 April 1999
By A Customer
This is an astounding achievement of Biblical criticism and commentary. Brown's famous detective work is in full-swing, here, and the final effect is a strengthening of the value of the Infancy Narratives rather than a detraction. Marvellous!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forget About Dan Brown 9 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The birth of Jesus has puzzled many people. It is full of contradictions, not least the gap between the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. The Jewish tax collector and Greek physician might be expected to have different perspectives, but both strive to be honest -- so why the contradictions?? This book towers over most biographies of Jesus and New Testament Commentaries. It is distinguished by Raymond Brown's scholarship and sincerity combined with clarity of organization, thought and expression. He engages the reader in the best way possible. He reconciles difficult issues of conflict by means of courtesy rather than glossing over. If the reader's perspective is Catholic, Protestant, or other he or she will be gently confronted with one insight after another which at least assures learning at the feet of a master. The greatness of the book is possibly indicated by its substantial length and the fact that it is not one page too long. If you want to know the secret at the heart of Christianity, forget about Dan Brown.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to this fascinating topic 11 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once again Father Brown provides a fascinating way of discovering biblical texts and of exploring the differences between the 4 gospels and the reasons for this
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5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas without the reindeer..... 29 Dec 2009
Just a short review here.

Raymond Brown was a man full of insight and wisdom and applied that in particular to the gospel of John and then to the infancy narratives. His main theme is that they are more than history and attempt to demonstrate that Jesus is the fulfilment of the old testament and the personification of the people of God. Its challenging, interesting and importantly readable. Not for the closed mind fundamentalist but mainstream Christians will enjoy and value this work.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial 10 April 2002
By D. S. Heersink - Published on Amazon.com
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.
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding work from a great scholar and priest 7 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
At the time of its publication, Father Brown's work was regarded by conservative and liberal scholars alike as a masterpiece, and it still is. Perhaps the most helpful part of the book is its arrangement: By placing the commentary immediately after the text and separating it from the notes, people who want more detail (and Father Brown was never at a loss for detail) can read the notes. Father Brown also wrote a wonderful work called "The Death of the Messiah" concerning the Passion Narratives. This, too, is excellent. When asked if he would write a book on the Resurrection Narratives, Father Brown declined, saying, "I'll wait and experience it first." Rest in peace, Father.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eureka!! Thar's gold in dem dar hills. 9 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Fr. Brown taks an honest hard look at the infancy narrative of Matthew and Luke. It is a struggle to find the truth in these narrative amid all the mythic lore and revisionist speculations. He digs deep down into the mountain of rubble that has accumulated, bringing out the sparkling truth that is contained within. He brings them out into the light of the day, where all speculation and myth are shown for what they are.
The historical valure of the infancy narratives are shredded to pieces during the course of this examination. Yet my faith is strengthened not undermined by this work. Why is this? Well, Fr. Brown uncovers the real motivation behind the Evangelists who composed these narratives. The primary motivation is theological.
The infancy narratives are perhaps the richest vien of theology in the New Testament. So much is hidden away in the nooks and crannies of the remainder of the Gospels, so much that only comes to light with a close examination of the infancy narratives. Once the myths are tossed aside, the glory of God begins to shine ever more clearly.
I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand the Gospel without sacrificing intellect for the sake of belief.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Comprehensive Volume About The Birth Of Christ 19 Nov 2005
By Timothy Kearney - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars decision time 1 July 2001
By catherine guelph - Published on Amazon.com
My spiritual relationship has been strengthened as a result of reading this commentary by Raymond Edward Brown S. S. "The Birth of the Messiah" is an exhaustive analysis of the Infancy Narratives (IN) presented in the Christian Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The self-proclaimed task of this commentary is to "recover the value of the infancy stories as theology." Professor Brown contends that the IN were "written to make Jesus' origins intelligible against the background of the fulfillment of OT [Hebraic Scriptural] expectations". In this light, the Gospel of Matthew was written to make the history of Israel a more intimate preparation by having Jesus relive that history. The remote preparation of the ministry of Jesus was the whole of GOD's activity in Israel as told by the Law of Moses and the Prophets. The Gospel of Luke IN also "stress the intrinsic connection of that birth with what has precede in Israel." In contrast to Matthew, Lucan theology presents a smoother transition from OT to the Gospel message. Even so, "for both evangelists the IN is the place where the OT [i.e. Hebraic Scriptures] and the Gospel most directly meet." The idea of a "backwards developing christology" was introduced to me in this book. "In a pre-Gospel period, as attested by Paul and the sermons in Acts, the resurrection was the chief moment associated with the divine proclamation of the identity of Jesus." The IN are presented here as a progressive step in the understanding of the origin of Jesus. One of the recurrent themes which Professor Brown enunciates is that a reaction to the IN is a reflection of a reaction to the Gospel message. "The gospel is the good news, but that gospel must have a passion and rejection as well as success." Some will accept the Gospel message and rejoice while others will reject the Gospel and those who proclaim it. A second theme which influences me is that the true family of Jesus are those who hear the word of GOD and do it (Mark 3:20-21). Professor Brown demonstrates that Luke presents Mary as one who qualifies and becomes the first disciple. If you are interested in the Gospel message of the Infancy Narratives, this book will interest you. Regardless of your personal position on the Christian Gospels, this is a valuable tool for understanding what they are about, and therefore, can be important in arriving at an informed decision.
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