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The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Paperback – January 1, 1972

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (January 1, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809117681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809117680
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book differs from the majority of Ray Brown's work in that it is far more brief than most of the other books he has authored. Unlike "The Birth of the Messiah" and "The Death of the Messiah" or his "Introduction to the New Testament," "The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection" is only 130 pages and can be read in a reasonable period of time. The body of the work is concise; he has limited this work to two topics, but his expertise and thoroughness in outlining these two volatile topics is nothing short of his usual exhaustive research. Not only does he speak of his own stance on these issues, he thoroughly scours the current and past academic community, and their accompanying ideas, critiquing each for helpful input or erroneous conclusions.
As usual, Ray Brown clearly knows where the Catholic line in the sand has been drawn and although he doesn't step past it, he recognizes far more than most traditional Catholics would dare consider, given the high visibility of these two issues. And his brilliance allows him to see that both conservatives and liberals can and will take him to task for the conclusions he draws. Other current theologians, both Protestant and Catholic, believe there is ample evidence out there that points toward a modern understanding of the issues, (and that this evidence ought to engender some change in official church teaching) but Brown, who clearly knows all the evidence, won't quite go there.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is concise and efficient examination of two question central to Catholic theology: (a) Was Jesus conceived of a Virgin? and (b) Was Jesus resurrected bodily? The book is slim - about 133 pages - but the pages are filled with information, as Brown goes to work surveying the available information and scholarly consensus to analyze the various issues that surround these questions.

Brown's agenda is pursue the issues in a scholarly and objective manner. He does not assume the truth of the Catholic position ab initio as part of his scholarship, but argues cogently that Catholicism is not well-served by anything less than an adherence to the best traditions of objective scholarship. As a faithful Catholic, I had no problems with his approach, and I found nothing in his text or conclusions that was in the least bit threatening to my adherence to either the doctrine of the Virgin Birth - or, more specifically, the Virgin Conception (since as Father Brown points out, the Virgin Birth extends to the less well-known doctrine that the Blessed Virgin Mary remained virginally intact after the birth of Jesus) - or the Resurrection.

The book is really two monographs with an epilogue that summarizes Brown's conclusions. The short length of the book makes this book a less daunting book to read than either Brown's The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library) or The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave (2 Vol. Boxed Set).
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Format: Paperback
Whatever the reader's convictions this book is an opportunity to reflect on two very sensitive topics for Christian faith. The author tackles them carefully and yet constructively. The book was authorized by those who are in charge of maintaining Roman Catholic tradition and yet it opens interesting perspectives to the reader who is not necessarily always satisfied with ready-made and non-negotiable formulations of what one should believe.

As usual, two well known questions are raised here about the Scriptures. There is what they say and there is what some people try to make them say in order to justify their point more forcefully.

There is also the nature of the language of the Scriptures : is it literal or symbolic, or a mixture of both ?

Regarding, the virginal conception:

At the beginning there is a problem of translation. In this case a « young woman » in Hebrew was changed into a « virgin » in Greek. In itself, this could be enough to drop the matter altogether, but one should not go too fast. It is indeed interesting to consider that this error may have been inspired in order to reveal a fundamental message. This message is linked to the fact that if Man needs to be saved, it seems obvious that, for that purpose, he will need the help of someone greater than him, namely the help of God ; whether God acts directly or through a Saviour.

And what the text actually means when it says that the Saviour was conceived in the womb of a « virgin » is clearly that man is not at the origin of his own salvation, because the Saviour was not born from the action of a man. This is a simple and elegant message in symbolic language, but it is also highly significant.
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