4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An essential introduction,
This review is from: An Introduction to New Testament Christology (Paperback)
Fr. Raymond Brown is one of the master biblical scholars of the twentieth century, in any language. For an introduction to New Testament Christology, this is the first book I always recommend to friend or students. Why? It is not only his erudition that marks him out as unique, but also his ability to clearly and concisely present scholarly analysis of the Scriptures in a way that is neither fundamentalist, which denies the notion of studying the texts as texts to be studied apart from devotion, often treating them in an ahistorical vacuum, nor as the dismissive Jesus Seminar brand of pseudo-scholarship, which begins with the presupposition that if God even exists, miracles are de jure impossible, and therefore the bible is a bunch of neat myths "to produce social and moral coherence". Rather, Brown takes the middle path, which he also argues convincingly is the historical path. Historical in two senses: Treating history as something that is revealed to us in the texts, and historical in the sense that it is what is mist true the Church's reflection upon the experience of said history. If you take a moment to read his introduction available with the "look inside" function you can see how he sets his course for the book.
While this is only meant to be an introduction to beginners, and not a text for deeper study, Brown covers all the bases in a preliminary fashion that gives the reader real reasons for the various schools of thought in current biblical study on Jesus, while always interacting with the texts themselves to present his view that the Church is actually correct in what it teaches about Jesus Christ and God on the basis of Scripture. That said, he is not willy-nilly in his treatment of those with whom he disagrees. He gives space for their views as well, and discusses their pros and cons. He notes that it is not correct to bring to the text your own views without also bringing the idea that you may be wrong- let the texts speak for themselves IF we are discussing what the texts actually say.
This book is also ideal for study groups and classrooms, with useful summaries being given throughout. His indexes are highly helpful, dealing with the NT claims of Jesus being the Christ, being divine, being God, being resurrected from the dead, the Christolgy of John, and a very detailed, although dated to 1994, bibliography.
Others books and authors that you may find useful in regards to Jesus/God questions are: Hengel's Cross of the Son of God (which is three of Hengel's books of the incarnation and atomement combined into one volume), Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus Christ by Collins, What Have They Done with Jesus?: Beyond Strange Theories and Bad History--Why We Can Trust the Bible, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters (all of Wright's books are seminal), Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (one of the benchmark studies), The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity (on why so much publishing tends toward hypothetical history and not history when dealing with Jesus and Scripture), The God of the Gospel of John (on HOW Jesus can be worshipped as God and yet not devolve into bitheism), Behr's The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death, The Real Jesus : The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels by Johnson and lastly, How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?: Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus, also by hurtado.
After two decades of study on this topic I have become more and more convinced that what the earliest Christians claimed about their experience of Jesus is the most accurate account of what really did happen based upon history, scripture and reason. A true source of deep joy, hope and intellectual nourishment.