Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Problems With Raymond Brown's The Birth Of The Messiah

Brown's work on the infancy narratives is still widely regarded as the standard in the field. Though he wrote from a largely liberal perspective, conservative scholars and Christian apologists have had far less to say in response to Brown than you'd expect. What I want to do in this post is gather together some of the posts I've written over the years that are relevant to Brown's book and his arguments more broadly.

Several years ago, I wrote a three-part review of his book: one, two, three. Later, I wrote a shorter review at Amazon, which includes some material not found in my review here.

One of Brown's most foundational objections to the historicity of the infancy narratives is that Matthew and Luke don't agree about much concerning Jesus' childhood. I wrote a response to that objection here.

Another objection that's foundational to Brown's case is that the material in the infancy narratives is absent from and contrary to early accounts of Jesus' adulthood. He objects to a lack of corroboration of the infancy narratives in other sources. I addressed such objections in a series here. The first two parts in the series quote Brown on these subjects and interact with him, and the rest of the series expands on those themes.

I addressed the genre of the infancy narratives here. On the authorship of Matthew and Luke, see here and here, among many other relevant posts in our archives.

I respond to Brown on Luke's census in a series found here. A few years later, I wrote a post summing up the evidence pertaining to the census. I've also written other posts about the census, like the one here, which responds to the popular notion, advocated by Brown, that Luke refers to the census as ancestral. See here for some more recent material.

Brown is ambivalent about Jesus' Bethlehem birthplace, but he acknowledges that there's significant evidence for it. The evidence is a lot more substantial than Brown suggests. See here.

Brown underestimates some extrabiblical evidence we have for the Slaughter of the Innocents. He also expects Matthew's account, if historical, to be corroborated where he shouldn't be expecting corroboration. I address such issues in a post here.

I've written many posts that are relevant to Brown's claims about the star of Bethlehem, like in the series here.

Much of the material Stephen Carlson has published on issues pertaining to the infancy narratives in recent years is relevant to Brown's claims. I recently put up a post linking to some of Carlson's online material.

A couple of years ago, Richard Bauckham, a New Testament scholar, responded to Brown's bad arguments about Luke 2:22-4. He also made some comments on a blog about other problems with Brown's work.

1 comment:

  1. I have never understood Raymond Brown's liberalism, and even more, I have never understood why the RCC did not discipline him.

    Doesn't that gut all the claims that Roman Catholic Apologists make about great their "living voice" and Magisterium is, that they can solve all disunity problems and come in with a living voice and set things right. Why did they not "set Brown right" ??