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Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives. 2 v. New York: Doubleday, 1994, 1608 p.

(Detailed summary)


Raymond E. Brown was born on May 22, 1928 in New York City, Bronx. After high school in Miami, where the family of two boys had moved, he entered the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned his Master of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1949. He studied at the Gregorian University in Rome (1949-50). In 1951, he entered the Sulpician Society after receiving his bachelor's degree (1951) and his licentiate (1953) in sacred theology from St. Mary's Seminary and University of Baltimore. He was ordained a priest on May 23, 1953 in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida and received his doctorate in theology in 1958 at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 1958-59, he spent time in Jerusalem and Jordan working on the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1963 he received his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. From 1971 to 1990 he was professor of biblical studies at the Protestant Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he became professor emeritus. He was appointed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1972 and 1996. President of several biblical associations, such as the Catholic Biblical Association, the Society of Biblical Literature (1976-7) and the Society of New Testament Studies (1986-7), he is considered one of the most important American biblical scholars. He holds 24 honorary doctorates from American and European universities, including Protestant institutions. He died of a heart attack at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, California, on August 8, 1998, after retiring from teaching to devote himself to research at the age of 70. His latest book, A Retreat With John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life (St. Anthony Messenger Press), was published a day before his death.

Raymond Brown became known for his research on the Gospel of John, of which he published a commentary in 1966 and 1970, and for his studies of the Johannine community in 1979. Among his many publications are the following:

  • The Semitic Background of the Pauline Mystērion (Ph.D. Diss.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University, 1958, 243 p.
  • New Testament Essays. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1965, 280 p. (reprint: Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968).
  • The Gospel According to John (i-xii), v.1. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor Bible, 29), 1966, 538 p.
  • Jesus God and Man: Modern Biblical Reflections. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1967, 109 p. (reprint: (New York: Macmillan, 1972)
  • The Semitic Background of the Term “Mystery” in the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968, 72 p. (abbreviated version)
  • Jerome Biblical Commentary (co-publisher), 2 v. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968, 637 et 835 p.
  • Exégèse et Théologie: Les Saintes Écritures et leur interprétation théologique: Donum natalicium Iosepho Coppens septuagesimum annum complenti D.D.D. collegae et amici (co-publisher). Gembloux: Duculot, 1968, 327 p.
  • The Gospel According to John (xiii-xxi), v.2. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor Bible, 29A), 1970, 539 p.
  • The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. New York: Paulist, 1973, 136 p.
  • Peter in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (co-publisher). New York: Paulist, 1973, 181 p.
  • Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church. New York: Paulist, 1975, 118 p.
  • The Birth of the Messiah. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977, 594 p.
  • Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (co-publisher). New York: Paulist, 1978, 323 p.
  • The Community of the Beloved Disciple. New York: Paulist, 1979, 204 p.
  • The Critical Meaning of the Bible. New York: Paulist, 1981, 150 p.
  • The Epistles of John. Garden City, NY: Doubleday (Anchor Bible, 30), 1982, 812 p.
  • Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity (co-author). New York: Paulist, 1983, 242 p.
  • The Churches the Apostles Left Behind. New York: Paulist, 1984, 156 p.
  • Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine. New York: Paulist, 1985, 171 p.
  • The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (co-publisher). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990, 1475 p.
  • Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible. New York: Paulist, 1990, 147 p.
  • The New Jerome Bible Handbook (co-publisher). London: Chapman, 1992, 456 p.
  • The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives of the Four Gospels. 2 v. New York: Doubleday, 1994, 1608 p.
  • An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulist, 1994, 226 p.
  • Reading the Gospels with the Church: From Christmas Through Easter. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger, 1996, 90 p.
  • An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997, 878 p.
  • A Retreat with John the Evangelist: That You May Have Life. Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger, 1998, 102 p.
  • An Introduction to the Gospel of John (ed. et rev. Moloney). New York: Doubleday, 2003, 356 p.

The following attempts to summarize his commentary on the death of the messiah.


The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives of the Four Gospels. v. 1

  1. The Perspective of This Commentary
  2. General Gospel Issues Pertinent to the Passion Narratives

Act 1:

Jesus Prays and Is Arrested in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives Across the Kidron
(Mark 14: 26-52; Martthew 26: 30-56; Luke 22: 39-53; John 18: 1-11)

Scene 1: Jesus goes to the Site and Prays There (Mk 14: 26-42; Mt 26: 30-46; Lk 22: 39-46; Jn 18: 1)

  1. Transitional Episode: Jesus Goes with Disciples to the Mount of Olives (Mk 14: 26-31; Mt 26: 30-35; Lk 22: 39; Jn 18: 1a)
  2. Prayer in Gethsemane, Part One: Entry And Preparations (Mk 14: 32-34; Mt 26: 36-38; Lk 22: 40; Jn 18: 1b)
  3. Prayer in Gethsemane, Part Two: Jesus Prays to the Father (Mk 14: 35-36; Mt 26: 39; Lk 22: 41-42)
  4. Prayer in Gethsemane, Part Three: The Strengthening Angel (Lk 22: 43-44)
  5. Prayer in Gethsemane, Part Four: Jesus Comes Back to His Disciples the First Time (Mk 14: 37-38; Mt 26: 40-41; Lk 22: 45-46)
  6. Prayer in Gethsemane, Part Five: Jesus Comes Back to His Disciples the Second and Third Times (Mk 14: 39-42; Mt 26: 42-46)
  7. Analysis Covering All Five Parts of Jesus' Prayer in Gethsemane

Scene 2: Jesus Is Arrested (Mk 14: 43-52; Mt 26: 47-56; Lk 22: 43-53; Jn 18: 2-11)

  1. The Arrest of Jesus, Part One: The Initial Encounter (Mk 14: 43-46; Mt 26: 47-50; Lk 22: 47-48; Jn 18: 2-8a)
  2. The Arrest of Jesus, Part Two: Accompanying Incidents (Mk 14: 47-50; Mt 26: 51-56; Lk 22: 49-53; Jn 18: 8b-11)
  3. The Arrest of Jesus, Part Three: Naked Flight of a Young Man (Mk 14: 51-52)
  4. Analysis Covering All Three Parts of the Arrest of Jesus

Act II:

Jesus Before the Jewish Authorities
(Mark 14: 53 - 15: 1; Martthew 26: 57 - 27: 10; Luke 22: 54 - 23: 1; John 18: 12-28a)

Scene 1: Trial/Interrogation by Jewish Authorities (Mk 14: 53-64; Mt 26: 57-66; Lk 22: 54-55. 66-71; Jn 18: 12-25)

  1. Introduction: Background for the Jewish Trial/Interrogation of Jesus by the Priestly Authorities
  2. Transitional Episode: Jesus Transferred to the Jewish Authorities; Interrogated by Annas (Mk 14: 53-54; Mt 26: 57-58; Lk 22: 54-55; Jn 18: 12-25a)
  3. Sanhedrin Proceedings, Part One: The Gathered Authorities, Witnesses, and the Claim that Jesus Would Destroy the Sanctuary (Mk 14: 55-59; Mt 26: 59-61; Lk 22: 66)
  4. Sanhedrin Proceedings, Part Two: Question(s) about the Messiah, the Son of God (Mk 14: 60-61; Mt 26: 62-63; Lk 22: 67-70a)
  5. Sanhedrin Proceedings, Part One: Jesus' Response(s) and Statement about the Son of Man (Mk 14: 62; Mt 26: 64; Lk 22: 67-70b)
  6. Sanhedrin Proceedings, Part Four: Reaction of the Jewish Authorities to Jesus' Response (Mk 14: 63-64; Mt 26: 65-66; Lk 22: 71)
  7. Analysis Covering All Four Parts of the Sanhedrin Proceedings

Scene 2: Mockery/Abuse of Jesus; Denials by Peter; Judas (Mk 14: 65 - 15: 1; Mt 26: 67 - 27: 10; Lk 22: 54b-65; 23: 1; Jn 18: 15-18.25-28a)

  1. The Jewish Abuse and Mockery of Jesus (Mk 14: 65; Mt 26: 67-68; Lk 22: 63-65; Jn 18: 22-23)
  2. The Three Denials of Jesus by Peter (Mk 14: 66-72; Mt 26: 69-75; Lk 22: 54b-62; Jn 18: 15-18.25-27)
  3. End of the Sanhedrin Proceedings; Transfer to Pilate (Mk 15: 1; Mt 27: 1-2; Lk 23: 1; Jn 18: 28a)
  4. Judas, the Chief Priest, and the Price of Innocent Blood (Mt 27: 3-10)

Act III:

Jesus Before Pilate, The Roman Governor
(Mark 15: 2-20a; Martthew 27: 11-31a; Luke 23: 2-25; John 18: 28b - 19: 16a)

  1. Introduction: Background for the Roman Trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate
  2. The Roman Trial, Part One: Initial Questioning by Pilate (Mk 15: 2-5; Mt 27: 11-14; Lk 23: 2-5; Jn 18: 28b-38a)
  3. The Roman Trial, Part Two: Jesus before Herod (Lk 23: 6-12)
  4. The Roman Trial, Part Three: Barabbas (Mk 15: 6-11; Mt 27: 15-21; Lk 23: 13-19; Jn 18: 38b-40)
  5. The Roman Trial, Part Four: Condemnation of Jesus (Mk 15: 12-15; Mt 27: 22-26; Lk 23: 20-25; Jn 19: 1.4-16a)
  6. The Roman Mockery and Abuse of Jesus (Mk 15: 16-20a; Mt 27: 27-31a; Jn 19: 2-3)

The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives of the Four Gospels. v. 2

Act IV:

Jesus Is Crucified and Dies on Golgotha, He is Buried Nearby
(Mk 15: 20b-47; Mt 27: 31b-66; Lk 23: 26-56; Jn 19: 16b-42)

Scene 1: Jesus Is Crucified and Dies (Mk 15: 20b-41; Mt 27: 31b-56; Lk 23: 26-49; Jn 19: 16b-37)

  1. Introduction: Structure of the Crucifixion and Burial Accounts
  2. Transitional Episode: Jesus Led Out to be Crucified (Mk 15: 20b-21; Mt 27: 31b-32; Lk 23: 26-32; Jn 19: 16b-17a)
  3. Jesus Crucified, Part One: The Setting (Mk 15: 22-27; Mt 27: 33-38; Lk 23: 33-34; Jn 19: 17b-24)
  4. Jesus Crucified, Part Two: Activities at the Cross (Mk 15: 29-32; Mt 27: 39-44; Lk 23: 35-43; Jn 19: 25-27)
  5. Jesus Crucified, Part Three: Last Events, Death (Mk 15: 33-37; Mt 27: 45-50; Lk 23: 44-46; Jn 19: 28-30)
  6. Jesus Crucified, Part Four: Happenings after Jesus' Death: a. External Effects (Mk 15: 38; Mt 27: 51-53; [Lk 23: 45b])
  7. Jesus Crucified, Part Four: Happenings after Jesus' Death: b. Reactions of Those Present (Mk 15: 39-41; Mt 27: 54-56; Lk 23: 47-49; Jn 19: 31-37)

Scene 2: Jesus Is Buried (Mk 15: 42-47; Mt 27: 57-66; Lk 23: 50-56; Jn 19: 38-42)

  1. The Burial of Jesus, Part One: Joseph's Request for the Body (Mk 15: 42-45; Mt 27: 57-58; Lk 23: 50-52; Jn 19: 38a)
  2. The Burial of Jesus, Part Two: Placing the Body in the Tomb (Mk 15: 46-47; Mt 27: 59-61; Lk 23: 53-56a; Jn 19: 38b-42)
  3. The Burial of Jesus, Part Three: On the Sabbath; the Guard at the Sepulcher (Mt 27: 62-66; Lk 23: 56b)

Appendix

  1. The Gospel of Peter. A Noncanonical Passion Narrative.
    (upcoming)
  2. Dating the Crucifixion (Day, Monthly Date, Year)
    (upcoming)
  3. Pertinent Passages Difficult to Translate (Mark 14: 41; Hebrews 5: 7-8; Mt 26: 50; Jn 19: 13)
    (upcoming)
  4. Overall View of Judas Iscariot
    (upcoming)
  5. Jewish Groups and Authorities Mentioned in the Passion Narratives
    (upcoming)
  6. The Sacrifice of Isaac and the Passion
    (upcoming)
  7. The Old Testament Background of the Passion Narratives
    (upcoming)
  8. Jesus' Predictions of His Passion and Death
    (upcoming)
  9. The Question of a PreMarcan Passion Narrative by Marion L. Soards
    (upcoming)