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The Birth of the Messiah (Anchor Bible Reference Library)

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  136 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The truth behind the Gospel accounts of the Nativity, updated to include the latest research--a classic by a renowned scholar, hailed as "masterly" and "definitive" in the original edition. "From the Hardcover edition."
Paperback, 752 pages
Published May 18th 1999 by Anchor Bible (first published January 1st 1977)
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M Christopher
Oct 30, 2012 M Christopher rated it it was ok
Shelves: bible-study
I read this book at the suggestion of a retired colleague, well, more like insistence, really. "Surely," he wrote me, "you've read the CLASSIC The Birth of the Messiah." I hadn't.

The problem with classics is that by definition they've been around a while. "The Birth of the Messiah" was originally published in 1977, a then-rare bit of critical Biblical scholarship from a Roman Catholic scholar. I've no doubt it was ground-breaking. But by the time I was in seminary in the late 80s, the core argum
Erik Graff
Jan 21, 2014 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: Raymond Brown
I took Ray Brown's Survey of Apocalyptic Literature course at Union Theological Seminary in New York during the second semester of 1977/78. Having become increasingly interested in biblical studies during seminary, I used the class as an occasion to do something original, namely an exhaustive concordance of all number references (except the number "one") in all the Hebrew and Christian canons as well as in the epigraphal and pseudepigraphal fringes of both. The canonical work was easy, there bei ...more
Danny Daley
Jan 25, 2016 Danny Daley rated it really liked it
Brown's commentary on the Matthean and Lucan infancy narratives is impressive. Over 700 pages on 4 biblical chapters, the most thorough treatment available, and characterized by insightful and balanced exegesis. Even the appendixes are worth careful reading.

My major criticism of the commentary is Brown's dependence on his reconstructions of "layers" that he discerns within the text, of "pre" Matthean and Lucan material. This sort of form and structural criticism is normal in critical scholarshi
Roland Clark
Dec 22, 2015 Roland Clark rated it it was amazing
Everyone thinks they know the Christmas story, but Raymond Brown’s commentary on the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke convinced me that actually I hardly know them at all. Brown unpacks layer upon layer to show that the Gospel writers had some very special things to say when they crafted these stories. In particular, Brown argues, they tell us “the essence of the Good News, namely, that God has made Himself present to us in the life of His Messiah who walked on this earth, so truly present ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
This book is a classic of biblical exegesis. As a layperson, I’ve no doubt that this book owes much to other scholars, and in the time since this was published much scholarly debate has continued beyond what is in these pages. However, I’m ignorant of most of it. In my view, this is an incredibly well-written and orderly exegesis of the birth narratives found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. “It is the central contention of this volume that the infancy narratives are worthy vehicles of the Go ...more
Nov 17, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
Brown presents a thorough study of the birth narratives from a moderate viewpoint. He acknowledges the potential limitations presented by Catholic censors, and indicates no limitations on what he has written. This version includes an updated look at more recent works in the appendix. The final 15 or so pages provide a thoughtful conclusion to a fine work.

Brown is no-nonsense but always a gentleman when evaluating the work of other scholars and theologians. He leaves the reader to ultimately mak
A solid commentary on the Birth Narratives in the Gospels (Matt and Luke). This book is an excellent supplement to commentaries and provides more information on this niche area of scholarship. Brown's method is heavily dependent on historical and source criticism and his frequent skepticism and intentionally contradictory positions are sometimes irritating. I think what Brown does is open up questions about the birth narratives that we would normally not pose. While he does not answer all of the ...more
Hank Stuever
Aug 22, 2013 Hank Stuever rated it really liked it
Should you need some sound theological analysis of the Nativity (as I did, when working on a book about Christmas), you can do no better than Raymond Brown's "The Birth of the Messiah." Though you should also be warned that if you're looking for affirmation of the manger-angels-December-25th-star-virgin-birth stuff, you're in for a bit of a correction. Many people are not particularly fond of being told that the whole thing is a contextual origin story, appropriate to 1st-century readership. (No ...more
Stefan Djupsjöbacka
Jan 09, 2015 Stefan Djupsjöbacka rated it it was amazing
An amazing opus. Written with skill and depth, critical but still open for understanding and reception of the Christian tradition.
Jan 05, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it
This time through, I only read the introductory material and the Matthew section, since it was liturgical year A. Again, the book is a great summary of the scholarship of Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. His conclusions are rather conservative, but never unreasonable, and he is very clear what are his conclusions and why, as well as listing other options.
Kim Berkey
May 22, 2012 Kim Berkey rated it really liked it
Brown's best quality is his clarity. His expertise affords him the ability to elucidate the issues surrounding the infancy narratives SO accessibly. Great writing, great thinking, and overall a thorough commentary for Matt 1-2 and Luke 1-2.
James Kim
Nov 28, 2012 James Kim rated it it was amazing
A fantastic resource for scholars, preachers, students. One of the greatest scholars of modern times writing in an accessible way. Read this book while in seminary and it was a great joy to read it again in preparation for Advent.
One of those imposing works of biblical study and theology. Raymond Brown was my college thesis.
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Roman Catholic priest, member of Society of Saint-Sulpice and a prominent biblical scholar, esteemed by not only his colleagues of the same confession. One of the first Roman Catholic scholars to apply historical-critical analysis to the Bible.
More about Raymond E. Brown...

Other Books in the Series

Anchor Bible Reference Library (1 - 10 of 36 books)
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume I - The Roots of the Problem and the Person
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume II - Mentor, Message, and Miracles
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume IV - Law and Love
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume III - Companions and Competitors
  • A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume V - Probing the Authenticity of the Parables
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 2: Expansions of the "Old Testament" and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works
  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments
  • Archaeology of the Land of the Bible
  • Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Vol 2: The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Periods 732-332 BCE
  • Alexander to Constantine: Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Volume III

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