Introduction to New Testament Christology Paperback – 18 Aug 1994
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First, he is clear. The book does not leave the reader wondering what Christological options are among contemporary and outdated scholarship nor where he himself falls in that spectrum. Throughout the book he italizes the point he intends to communicate, and closes each chapter and section with the salient features communicated therein. Furthermore, Brown does not burden the reader with overly technical language, but writes with simplicity for the layperson. If he does use the language of scholarship, he always explains its meaning and import.
Second, he is thoroughly organized, which provides the Christological neophyte with logical categories by which the information may be easily assimilated. There are points and subpoints, but never does he lose the reader in the minutae or become opaque.
Third, he is brief. However, he is so without doing injustice to an admittedly complex and highly technical subject. He continually keeps in mind his introductory ambition, and consequently allows the recommended reading list at the close of the book to elucidate the subject.
Fourth, R. Brown takes a moderately conservative approach, which allows him to moderate the subject to fundamentalists and liberals alike. Each will be challenged by his perspective.
He accomplishes majestically his purpose, thereby offering a substantial work for the beginner.
AN INTRODUCTION TO NEW TESTAMENT CHRISTOLOGY (1994) is an excellent introduction to Christology from the "centrist" perspective. Brown hits on many of the standard topics in Christology such as the "titles" of Jesus, the resurrection, the messianic expectations of the Jews, and the like. (It is an introduction and therefore does not cover topics that are found in longer works.)
What is most frustrating is that while Brown discusses other views, he generally limits the options to the center/left perspective. For example, the synoptic gospels report that on at least three occasions Jesus predicted his death (Mk. 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34 & par). What does Fr. Brown say about these? Well, "it is difficult to decide about Jesus' foreknowledge of his passion, crucifixion, and resurrection." [P. 49.] Now, if these predictions were simply "retrojected" by the early church, it is at least interesting to note that: (1) Jesus refers to himself as the "Son of man" in these passages - an expression which does not appear in the early church; and (2) there is no mention of the crucifixion or the atonement in Mark, which one might expect if they were later theological reflections put in the mouth of Jesus. Considering that Mark was probably the first gospel written, such arguments should carry some weight. They might not persuade non-believers, but if Brown is going to mention the findings of skeptics such as Todt and Higgins, at least he could find space for a paragraph or two to discuss the arguments I just mentioned (which, of course, aren't original to me.)