on 15 October 1997
If these two volumes were in print, they would be the texts for the Scripture course I'm taking. Overwhelmingly, Raymond Brown is the expert on John. He pulls from decades of research and numerous sources. It appears to be a life's work. He gives a phrase by phrase commentary, verse by verse. A narrative summary ties all the ideas together. He includes notes on translation including many possible views of sense of meaning. After delving into any section the reader should go away satisfied with the answer they need. This is very detailed. Be prepared to spend lots of hours satisfying your thirst.
on 27 October 2007
Whilst the volumes on John are extremely detailed, they are never dull. Raymond Brown has a wry way of communicating, often leaving little witty comments in the footnotes. Key nuggets of information which I derived from this were: his explorations of the famous "I am" statements and his analysis of the Chapter VI on the Eucharist, where he shows that the greek word for "eats" can be more properly translated as "gnaws" giving a greater insight into the very real and graphic language for the consumption of the Eucharist.
In one of Brown's talks (avialable on CDs from the net), he notes that John's gospel has no institution of the Eucharist at the last supper but instead has the washing of the feet. He notes that it is unbelievable that the writer would have been ignorant of the instiution of the Eucharist at that fateful moment, but instead deliberately chose to highlight the Eucharist in a different context, namely the Eucharist as the bread of heaven, par excellence: "Your fathers ate in the manna in the desert but they are dead". Thus, the mass, not only is a representative sacrifice, it also gives us the bread from heaven, Christ himself. He wryly notes in one of his talks that if all the gospel accounts had contained only the washing of the feet at the last supper, it is doubtful whether christians would have been so divided over that! A little silly but the man had a good sense of humour. May he rest in peace.