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Death of the Messiah, The (Volume 2)

Product no.: 0-385-49449-1
Now available in paperback, Raymond E. Brown's masterful study examines every detail of the four Gospel stories of the final agonizing days of Jesus' life.

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Publisher's Synopsis

Since its original publication in 1994 as a two-volume hardcover boxed set, The Death of the Messiah has lived up to early expectations and become the benchmark by which any future study of the Passion narratives will be measured.

Where others simply describe the accounts of the death of the Messiah as if they were one seamless whole, Father Brown reads and explains each Gospel on its own terms and elucidates the themes that make each one unique. The Death of the Messiah is the ideal complement to Brown's Birth of the Messiah, as thorough and expert in its handling of the Passion narratives as his book on the infancy narratives of the Gospels.


"A stunning array of fresh insights into how the passion stories came into being and what, scene by scene, the four Evangelists really say about the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus."     ~Newsweek

"In a stunning addition to the Anchor Bible Reference Library, Raymond E. Brown, the preeminent scriptural scholar who won great acclaim for his The Birth of the Messiah, now crowns a distinguished career with this much-awaited companion work. The biblical accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John of the death of Jesus comprise, as Brown points out, 'the central narrative in the Christian story'; and the result of Brown's treatment of them here is an unprecedentedly complete but amazingly accessible exegesis of those four Gospels' passion narratives.

Combining a lucid synthesis of the vast body of scholarly passion literature with his own insightful explanation of what the evangelists wrote, Brown breaks down the walls of theological density to recapture the full drama and meaning of Jesus' final days from his arrest to his execution and burial. While scholars may be staggered by Brown's exhaustively comprehensive bibliography and assured grasp of its contents, his introductory division of the passion's unfolding into four 'Acts' and several 'Scenes' will especially appeal to pastors and devout lay readers. Indeed, rarely has the gap between Christian scholars and the non-academic faithful been bridged more successfully than in this definitive masterpiece."       ~Publishers Weekly


In the tragic drama of the Mark/Matt PN Jesus has been abandoned by his disciples and mocked by all who have come to the cross. Darkness has covered the earth; there is nothing that shows God acting on Jesus’ side. How appropriate that Jesus feel forsaken! His “Why?” is that of someone who has plumbed the depths of the abyss, and feels enveloped by the power of darkness. Jesus is not questioning the existence of God or the power of God to do something about what is happening; he is questioning the silence of the one whom he calls “My God.”

If we pay attention to the overall structure of the Mark/Matt PN, that form of addressing the deity is itself significant, for nowhere previously has Jesus ever prayed to God as “God.” Mark/Matt began the PN with a prayer in which the deity was addressed by Jesus as “Father,” the common form of address used by Jesus and one that captured his familial confidence that God would not make the Son go through the “hour” or drink the cup. Yet that filial prayer, reiterated three times, was not visibly or audibly answered; and now having endured the seemingly endless agony of the “hour” and having drunk the dregs of the cup, Jesus screams out a final prayer that is an inclusion with the first prayer.

Feeling forsaken as if he were not being heard, he no longer presumes to speak intimately to the All-Powerful as “Father” but employs the address common to all human beings, “My God.” Mark calls our attention to this contrast between the two prayers and makes it more poignant by reporting the address in each prayer in Jesus’ own tongue: “Abba” and “Eloi,” thus giving the impression of words coming genuinely from Jesus’ heart, as distinct from the rest of his words that have been preserved in a foreign language. As he faces the agony of death, the Marcan Jesus is portrayed as resorting to his mother tongue.


Over his illustrious career, Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Ph.D., was internationally regarded as a dean of New Testament scholars. He was Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, received over thirty honorary degrees from Catholic and Protestant universities worldwide, and was elected a (Corresponding) Fellow of the British Academy and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to serving as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Society of New Testament Studies, two popes appointed Father Brown as the sole American on the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Some of the best known of his more than thirty-five books on the Bible are three volumes in the Anchor Bible series on the Gospel and Epistles of John, as well as the Anchor Bible Reference Library volumes The Birth of the Messiah, The Death of the Messiah, and An Introduction to the New Testament, winner of the 1998 Catholic Press Association Award for Biblical Studies. Father Brown’s untimely death on August 8, 1998, saddened all who knew him.

Author Brown, Raymond E.
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 2 Vols., 1608 pp.
Publisher ABRL Doubleday 1998
Series The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library
Browse these categories as well: The Historical Christ, Biblical Exegesis and Pseudepigrapha, Masterworks of the Western Mystery Tradition

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