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“Virgin Birth”: A Further Reading Suggestion

November 13, 2013

Further to my posting about Andrew Lincoln’s new book on the “virgin birth” of Jesus, I will mention briefly an earlier and still-valuable study that all serious students of the Gospel birth-narratives should know and consult:  Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Doubleday, 1977).  This is a massive (594 pp.) study of the two birth-narratives in Gospel of Matthew and Gospel of Luke.  Brown was a highly respected NT scholar and a Roman Catholic priest, and much of his career was devoted to the promotion of a scholarly, critical engagement with the NT among fellow Catholics (an emphasis for which he took a good deal of flak from “right-wing” Catholics).

Anyway, as with practically any book, there are places where one would judge differently, but it’s hard to find a matter that Brown ignores or buries.  And the engagement with other scholars is impressive too (many and copious bibliographies).

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  1. Magnus permalink

    I think the late Geza Vermes’ little book about the Nativity should be added into the discussion. A lot of what’s been discussed above has already mentioned by Vermes.

  2. Derek Dodson permalink

    The 1993 Updated Edition of Brown’s The Birth of the Messiah includes an appendix supplement (pp. 697-712) on the virgin birth, in which Brown interacts with the scholarly literature from the time of the 1977 publication.

  3. Raymond permalink

    J. Gresham Machen’s work, while much older, is still very valuable in the discussion of the “virgin brith” of Jesus.

    • Lincoln engages it as perhaps the most thorough defence of a traditional “literal” understanding of Jesus’ “virgin birth”.

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