Book review: New Testament Essays

by Raymond E. Brown


This is a collection of fourteen early essays by Brown (1928-1998), recently republished. I’m a big fan of Brown’s research, especially in the area of Johannine writings, of which he is considered perhaps the foremost scholar of the 20th century. Brown was a Catholic priest whose critical scholarship of the Bible seemed to only increase his faith in God. By way of introduction to the book, I’ll just list a few of my favorite essays.

Our New Approach to the Bible. Though not so new anymore, Brown discusses archaeological and literary accomplishments of the 20th century that force us to read the Bible differently.

The Eucharist and Baptism in John. There are actually two very good essays about John’s treatment of these two Christian rituals.

The Qumran Scrolls and the Johannine Gospel and Epistles. John’s treatment of dualism was long considered his own invention, until the discovery of the Qumran Scrolls, where many parallels to Johannine thinking can be seen.

The Problem of Historicity in John. Scholars still on occasion categorically reject the historicity of John, without giving proper consideration to the many geographical and political references that have in recent studies been proven accurate.

The Pater Noster as an Eschatological Prayer. Brown takes us sentence by sentence through the most famous prayer in the Bible, explaining its significance as a prayer for an eschatological age.

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