“Instead of reading the Bible to assure ourselves that we are right,
we would be better to read it to discover where we have not been
listening."- Raymond E. Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, 150.
“Most of us work by baseball rules: three strikes and you are out. …
Jesus [incredibly extends the rules to] seventy times seven, or an
infinite number.”- Raymond E. Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, 144-145.
“[Jesus] speaks of heaven and hell, but rarely and without detail. His concern is the knowing and loving and serving God in this life – the things we can do. … The Son became incarnate to teach men how to live a life in this world and not primarily to unveil the secrets of the next.” -Raymond E. Brown, New Testament Essays, 99.
"The title, 'the Word,' was appropriate in vs.1 because the divine being described there was destined to speak to men. When the title is used for the second time in vs.14, this divine being has taken on the human form and has thus found the most effective way in which to express himself to men. Thus, in becoming flesh the word does not cease to be the Word, but exercises his function as Word to the full ." - Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, I-XII, 32 (italics mine).
"If we ever make Christian faith totally dependent on the latest scholarly interpretation of a text, it could change each week."- Raymond E. Brown in an article by Peter Steinfels, "Scholar Sees 4 Views of Jesus' Death," New York Times, March 27, 1994. Accessed August 10, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/03/27/us/scholar-sees-4-views-of-jesus-in-accounts-of-death.html
"Truth is always complicated by the human envelope in which it is enclosed. It's not only an intellectual problem, but one at the heart of the gospel itself. It was not sinners who turned Jesus off; it was the righteous religious types who felt they had all the answers."- Raymond E. Brown quoted in a obituary written by Myrna Oliver, "Rev. Raymond E. Brown; Biblical Scholar, Author," Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1998. Accessed August 10, 2013. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/aug/12/news/mn-12408
"He lectured all round the world, in London most recently at the beginning of the year, and his diary was booked up five years in advance. He was once asked by a long-standing friend why he carried an attache case, since he never used texts or notes during lectures. He replied, 'Because if you don't carry one of these cases, people think you don't know anything.'"- Raymond E. Brown quoted in a obituary written by Felix Corley, "Obituary: The Rev Raymond E. Brown," The Independent, August 19, 1998. Accessed, August 10, 2013. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-the-rev-raymond-e-brown-1172611.html
"A surprising number of people have asked if I plan a trilogy to conclude with The Resurrection of the Messiah. Responding with mock indignation that I have written two books on the resurrection (a response that conveniently ignores the fact that neither is truly a commentary), I tell them emphatically that I have no such plans. I would rather explore that 'face to face'." - Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah, vol.1, xii.
" Brown ducked the superlatives assigned to him in admiring introductions. The recipient of 24 honorary doctorates, Brown noticed that one such honor had been conferred to him along with entertainer Bob Hope. He said he learned that Hope received more than 39. 'I have a long way to go in academia before I reach his achievement,' Brown said to laughter." Raymond E. Brown quoted in an article about a series of lectures at "Clergy Day" at USC in 1995, written by the Associated Press, entitled "Distinguished Catholic Priest Shares Personal Experiences," The Item, March 31, 1995. Accessed, August 11, 2013. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1980&dat=19950331&id=sr4oAAAAIBAJ&sjid=QgYGAAAAIBAJ&pg=1577,7600305
"A figure today who could physically give the blind sight and restore to life the recently dead would be hailed not only medically but spiritually. John's Jesus has a totally different outlook. He does supply earthly bread to a crowd that hungers; but that is not the real marvel, for they will hunger again and so are not permanently better. The real marvel is that Jesus can give a bread from heaven that obviates hunger: the true (alēthinos) bread of which the multiplied loaf was only a sign. Jesus does give a blind man sight, but such a gift simply makes the man no more disadvantaged than the rest of humanity that has sight but cannot see God. The real marvel is that Jesus as the light come into the world can lead the blind man to believing sight that will enable him to see God. Jesus restores physical life to Lazarus, but does that make Lazarus better off than he was before he died? Does it bring him closer to God than the life possessed by all those who walk the face of the earth? The real marvel is not simply that Jesus can restore the dead to life but that he can give a life impervious to death. Lazarus comes forth from the tomb in his burial garments because he will need them again when he dies a second time. His being raised is a sign pointing to the resurrection of Jesus who will leave his burial garments behind in the tomb, never to be needed again.
In preaching we must stress even for modern audiences that the Johannine Jesus is not engaged in cosmetic improvement of the quality of life on earth, offering more abundant water and food, with sharper vision and a longer span of years. From another world come his gifts, even if confusingly they bear the same names that our language gives to what we so eagerly seek on earth: food, light, and life. In reality, however, his gifts go beyond anything we could hope for, satisfying needs we scarcely knew we had and doing so permanently."
-Raymond E. Brown, "The Johannine World for Preachers," Interpretation 43.1 (1989), 58-65; here 60-61.
"...no matter how often we renew our faith, there is the supreme testing by death. Whether the death of a loved one or one's own death, it is the moment where one realizes that all depends on God. We have been cautious during our life to shield ourselves with bank accounts, credit cards and investments, and to protect our future with health plans, life insurance, social security and retirement plans. Yet there comes a moment when neither cash nor 'plastic' works. No human support goes with one to the grave; and human companionship stops at the tomb. One enters alone." -Raymond E. Brown, A Retreat with John the Evangelist, 53-54
"If one comments on the Gospel as it now stands, one is certain of commenting on an ancient Gospel as it really existed at the final moment of its publication. If one indulges in extensive rearrangement, one may be commenting on a hybrid that never existed before it emerged as the brain child of the rearranger."-Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the Gospel of John, 54.
"Despite our boasts at being a historical religion," he (Brown) said, we want to fix God in a form that divorces him from history. We cannot do this. When we're dealing with the Bible, we are always dealing with man's experience with God." -Raymond E. Brown, quoted in an article by Bob Wilcox, "Bible is Subject to Interpreting, 2 Scholars Note,"The Miami News, February 1, 1973. Accessed, August 18, 2013. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=L7slAAAAIBAJ&sjid=L_MFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6757,163750&dq=father-raymond-brown&hl=en
"It is the central contention of this volume that the infancy narratives are worthy vehicles of the Gospel message; indeed, each is the essential Gospel story in miniature. The appreciation of them among ordinary Christians may in part reflect sentimentality, as well as the fact that they are stories well told. But on a much deeper level it reflects a true instinct recognizing in the infancy narrative the essence of the Good News, namely, that God has made Himself present to us in the life of His Messiah who walked on this earth, so truly present that the birth of the Messiah was the birth of God's Son. I maintain that genuine biblical criticism, for all the historical problems that it raises, sets this claim in clear perspective." -Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, New Updated Edition, Foreword, 7.
"The readers/hearers of the Fourth Gospel are not meant simply to learn from such scenes: They must encounter Jesus too and be challenged by him; they will misunderstand by fitting him into their own preconceived needs, and they will have to be led to perceive God's ways."-Raymond E. Brown, "The Johannine World for Preachers," Interpretation 43.1 (1989), 58-65; here 62.
"In my outlook reputable scholars are those who have produced a body of articles that meet the publishing standards of the professional biblical journals or whose books have been favorably reviewed in such journals. Thus, I am not speaking simply about those who have biblical degrees or who teach Bible. I find it necessary to be precise here because, on the American Catholic scene in the last two years, fundamentalist newspapers and journals have had a habit of trotting out a polemicist, dubbing him a scholar, and then playing a game of 'scholars are divided' in order to propose views that have no serious following in the world of biblical scholarship."-Raymond E. Brown, "Who Do Men Say That I Am?: Modern Scholarship on Gospel Christology," Perspectives in Religious Studies II (1975), 107-124, here 108 n.3
"The Incarnation, then, means that the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is just as inextricably bound to this world as was it's Master. Once the Word became flesh, a purely spiritual religion, or one with its vision too farsightedly fixed on next world, became impossible. No one can find Christ outside the world; nor can one find the real world outside Christ, because the Incarnation has changed the nature of the world. The reality of the world, as Bonhoeffer insists, involves the God who has become manifest in Jesus Christ. And today perhaps more than any time since the Incarnation, the Church must fight to prove the place of Christ in this world. The Church must open the eyes of the world to see that it is the world of Christ. If the church is where Jesus reigns over the world, the Church cannot turn its back on this world. And indeed the only way the Church can defend its place in the world is not by settling for an existence on the fringes of life, but by assuring Christ's place in all of life and in the whole world." -Raymond E. Brown, "The Theology of the Incarnation in John" in New Testament Essays, First Edition, 100.
"Jesus' first words in the Fourth Gospel are a question that he addresses to everyone who would follow him, 'What are you looking for?'. By this John implies more than a banal request about their reason for walking after him. This question touches on the basic need of man that causes him to turn to God, and the answer of the disciples must be interpreted on the same theological level. Man wishes to stay (menein: "dwell, abide") with God; he is constantly seeking to escape temporality, change, and death, seeking to find something that is lasting. Jesus answers with the all-embracing challenge to faith: 'Come and see.'" -Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, I-XII, 78-79.
"Indeed by generous estimate, were scholars agreed on a portrait of the 'historical Jesus,' it would not cover one hundredth of the actual Jesus. It is equally a mistake to equate 'the historical (reconstructed) Jesus' with the real Jesus-- a Jesus who really means something to people, one on whom they can base their lives."- Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament; 828.