The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the
                     Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew
                     and Luke

The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Anchor Bible Reference Library)
by Raymond Brown

Paperback - 752 pages 
Updated edition: May 18, 1999
Bantam Books
ISBN: 0385494475

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CBD Book Description:With the original publication of "The Birth of the Messiah" in 1977, Raymond E. Brown accomplished what few could. Sizing up this magnificent book, Newsweek called it "a line-by-line exegesis...that not only synthesizes a generation of modern scholarship but also provides a coherent and compelling explanation of what the stories of Christ's birth were meant to convey...Brown manages to rescue the Christmas story from both the contempt of experts and the sentimentality of naive laymen....Ordinary Christians can thank this priestly scholar for helping them to put the adult Christ back into Christmas."

But as time passed, biblical scholarship changed, prompting Father Brown to issue a completely revised and updated edition in 1993. Again, scholars and laypeople praised the book as "a work of the highest critical historical scholarship in a form that is accessible to the average well-educated reader...Brown's treatment of the infancy narratives is definitive. It will undoubtedly be the standard work on the subject for years to come" (Best Sellers).

 

Our Comments: This is very, very thorough. Not an easy read—for those looking for an indepth study of this subject.

Although the author is Roman Catholic he states in the Foreword to the original edition (1976):

"I acknowledge my scholarly debt to many writers both Jewish and Christian. In particular, as the reader will see, the infancy narratives have been an area in which Roman Catholic writers have shown considerable interest because of their devotion to Mary; and from such detailed research this commentary has profited. However, historical criticism of the New Testament is relatively new on the Catholic scene, and many of those studies were written at a time or with a mentality that I shall have to reject as uncritical. As a Roman Catholic myself, I share their faith and their devotion; but it is my firm contention that one should not attempt to read later Marian sensibilities and issues back into the New Testament. (I do not mean that there is no need to relate the NT to later theology, but one must respect historical development.) I see no reason why a Catholic's understanding of what Matthew and Luke meant in their infancy narratives should be different from a Protestant's."

For more by the same author, in the same style, please see The Death of the Messiah volumes 1 & 2.

 

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