From its earliest days as a renegade religion in the Roman Empire through its various schisms and splits to present-day disagreements between Eastern Orthodox followers, Roman Catholics, and hundreds of different Protestant denominations, Christianity has been a source of great controversy--most of it centered on the reading of Scripture. There are those Christian conservatives who view the Bible as the literal word of God and the events detailed therein as historical fact. Other, more liberal Christians see the Good Book primarily as literature, a metaphor for how people should live. Mine the pages of the Biblical Archeological Review and you'll find scientists trying to prove or disprove the historical reality of Old and New Testament events and structures--everything from the Ark of the Covenant to King David's palace. In An Introduction to the New Testament, author Raymond E. Brown, a Catholic priest, ignores the swirl of conflict surrounding the Bible as historical artifact, concentrating instead on the message it contains.
Father Brown analyzes each of the 27 books in the New Testament, devoting painstaking attention to sources, dates, and authorship, as well as commentary on the spiritual, historical, and thematic aspects. He believes that modern-day Bible readers can only interpret it within its historical context. An Introduction to the New Testament, read with a Bible in hand, can only enrich and deepen your understanding of that germinal religious text. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Raymond Edward Brown (May 22, 1928 - August 8, 1998), was an American Roman Catholic priest and Biblical scholar. He was regarded as a specialist concerning the hypothetical Ã¢â‚¬ËœJohannine communityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, which he speculated contributed to the authorship of the Gospel of John, and he also wrote influential studies on the birth and death of Jesus. Brown was professor emeritus at the Protestant Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he taught for 29 years.Brown was one of the first Roman Catholic scholars to apply historical analysis to the Bible. As Biblical criticism developed among Protestants in the 19th century, the Roman Catholic Church opposed this scholarship and essentially forbade it in 1893. In 1943, however, the Church issued guidelines by which Catholic scholars could investigate the Bible historically. Brown called this encyclical the "Magna Carta of biblical progress." Vatican II further supported higher criticism which, Brown felt, vindicated his approach.Brown remains controversial among traditionalist Catholics because of their claim that he denied the inerrancy of the whole of Scripture and cast doubt on the historical accuracy of numerous articles of the Catholic faith. He was regarded as occupying the centre ground in the field of biblical studies, opposing the literalism found among many fundamentalist Christians while not carrying his conclusions as far as many
During his career, Brown (emeritus, biblical studies, Union Theological Seminary, New York) has enlightened and challenged scholars. Here he brings his extensive knowledge to bear in a volume primarily for beginners, though it will serve equally well those who are not. Because of the intended audience, he has made certain choices about content and form. First, he focuses on the established 27-book New Testament canon based upon the "wide agreement about the twenty-seven works to be included in a normative or canonical collection." Second, he deemphasizes the prehistory of the documents (sources, editions, and so forth) and emphasizes the documents in their canonical form. He begins most chapters with a "General Analysis of the Message" and addresses issues such as authorship, date, and composition afterward. So, for example, readers are helped to understand the individual messages of Matthew, Mark, and Luke without getting bogged down in the "synoptic problem." Due to his emphasis on the finished form of the New Testament documents, even those who disagree with some of the authors critical judgments will benefit from this volume. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
- Library Journal. Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
...[A] monumental introduction to the NT.... unique....[T]he aim is to make these early Christian writings accessible for beginning students...and to encourage the careful reading of the NT....Its emphasis on theological and christological issues may make it inappropriate for undergraduates, but it should serve uniquely well as a resource for theological students and for scholars of any age who want to be updated on the issues as set forth in the substantive and extensive bibliography.
- Society of Biblical Literature - Howard Clark Kee