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No. 86 Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program March 2000

In answer to the form-critical analysis of Raymond Brown

by John F. McCarthy

        1. The text of Matthew 2:23.  In the November 1999 issue of Living Tradition, I presented a neo-Patristic interpretation of what is said about St. Joseph in Matt 2:23, the original Greek text of which I translated to read as follows: And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled that he would be called a Nazorean. This translation understands that the text is presenting an indirect citation from unidentified prophets. But Raymond Brown, in his well-known work, The Birth of the Messiah, follows another rendering in placing quotation marks around the reference so as to read: There he went to dwell in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He will be called a Nazorean." Brown makes this choice for the reason that in Greek the use of hoti to introduce a direct quotation is "more normal" than its use as the conjunction that. But this reason is not cogent. The fact is that Matthew, in keeping with general Greek practice, commonly uses hoti in either of these two senses, with the result that there is no valid argument regarding which is "more normal." Brown adds as a second reason that for Matthew not to have introduced a direct quotation in Matt 2:23 would have been against the "general pattern of the fulfillment formula," as though, by some non-existent natural law or scientific discovery, Matthew had been locked into a rigid mental pattern. Matthew does follow a method of showing the fulfillment of prophecies from the Old Testament, but this method does not always require verbatim citations, especially where there is a reason for not citing verbatim, as is the case here. The fact is that Matthew's verbatim quotes always refer to unique texts in the Old Testament, whereas in 2:23 he is referring to "the prophets," that is, to more than one prophetic text. Brown, of course, doesn't find any verbatim text in the Old Testament to fit this reference; he leaves Matthew "holding the bag."

        2. Jesus the Nazorean.  Brown presents an important fact when he notes that the Greek word hagios ("holy") has sometimes been used to translate the Hebrew word Nazir. 1 Thus, for example, in the Codex Vaticanus version of the Septuagint, the "Nazir Elohim" of Judges 13:7 is translated hagion theou ("holy one of God"), and similarly in Judges 16:17. He adds that Jesus is called the "Holy One of God" in both Mark 1:24, and Luke 4:34 (by an unclean spirit) and in John 6:69 (by Simon Peter), thus indicating a Scriptural basis for saying that Jesus was regarded as a Nazir. But Brown does not advert to the use of hagion in Luke 1:35: And therefore the Holy to be engendered will be called Son of God. If the word used for "Holy" by the Angel Gabriel in the real historical event of the Annunciation to Mary was Nazir or a derivative thereof, then the prophecy referred to in Matt 2:23 would have been literally given at least by an angel. 2

        3. Raymond Brown's form-critical conclusion regarding Matt 2:22-23.  Raymond Brown is of the opinion that the two verses in Matt 1:22-23 represent Matthew's "own appended composition" to a narrative tradition that he was reporting. 3 Brown's form-critical analysis leads him to consider as "virtually confirmed" that "onto a tradition about Joseph being sent from Egypt to Israel, Matthew has tacked a specification about Galilee and Nazareth to prepare for the formula citation." Matthew had to invent this additional dream episode of Joseph, reasons Brown, because Matthew's nativity scene was located in Bethlehem, while it was "a commonplace of the Gospel tradition" that Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Matthew was "forced to explain how the family got to Nazareth," and this is how he did it. 4 Brown actually uses these two verses as a clear illustration of how the form-critical method works. 5 He lists three basic guides that "scholars have used" to distinguish what is Matthean from what is pre-Matthean. First of all, "If a passage in the infancy narrative is almost purely Matthean in vocabulary and style, it is more likely that Matthew has composed the passage himself." The second guide is "the presence of internal tensions or conflicts within a passage." The third guide is "the presence of parallels to other material." In terms of the first guide, Brown compares Matt 2:22-23 with Matt 4:12-16 and shows that the pattern, grammar, and vocabulary of the two passages are clearly the same. With reference to the second guide, Brown sees an "internal tension" in Matt 2:22-23 inasmuch as Joseph is told, on the one hand, to take the child and his mother to the land of Israel, and, on the other hand, to take them to Galilee. Brown form-critically reasons: "If this story were a unity, why would there be two different dreams? Why did not the angel tell Joseph in the first dream to 'go to the land of Galilee'?" 6

        4. The weakness of Brown's interpretation of Matt 2:22-23.  In his reasoning about the origin of Matt 2:22-23, Brown follows the lead of Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann, the two principal founders of the form-criticism of the Gospels. In a previous article 7 I undertook to show how flimsy is the reasoning of Bultmann and Dibelius regarding the alleged "internal tension" within this text. Dibelius reasoned that the original story had been about "the slaughter of the children," and that the decision to go and settle in Nazareth could not have been part of it, because "otherwise we should have to ask why the angel said nothing [in his appearance to Joseph in Egypt] of the renewed danger [from Archelaus]." 8 But, if we do ask, we can easily discover that in the Sacred Scriptures the revelation of realities is often given gradually and not all at once. And, if it really happened in that way, it was correct on Matthew's part to describe it in that way. Bultmann concurs with Dibelius in concluding that these two verses "were added by Matthew with the intention of introducing Nazareth as the home of Jesus." 9 But Bultmann was a modernist, and, according to his modernist belief, almost everything described in the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke is assumed to have been invented by religious imagination proceeding from a religious instinct, allowing that some rare elements of reality may be contained beneath these scenes. Thus, Bultmann and Dibelius would readily concede that there was a man Jesus of Nazareth who grew up in Nazareth and was, therefore, probably born in Nazareth. This, according to them, would be an element of reality in the Narratives. But, by the same presuppositions, the other things stated in the Narratives are presumed to be fictitious unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Now, Raymond Brown is starting from the exegesis of form-critics like Bultmann and Dibelius and adapting it as he sees fit. In this case Brown's conclusion is practically the same as that of the originators of the method, namely, that Matthew "tacked on" (read "invented") this journey to Nazareth in order to explain how the Holy Family got there. And Brown reechoes the flimsy reasoning of Dibelius as he asks with Dibelius why, otherwise, the angel did not tell Joseph about going to Galilee in Joseph's earlier dream in Egypt. We can just as reasonably and even more justifiably reason that the angel had no need to tell Joseph everything at once. Brown thinks that he espies "internal tension" in the orders said to have been given by the angel to Joseph, namely, first to go to "the land of Israel" and later changed to go instead to Galilee, as if Galilee were not in the land of Israel and Judea were not on the way to Galilee. Brown seems to have understood that the first order of the angel was to take the Child and his Mother to Judea, but that was not the case. Actually there is no contradiction in the orders of the angel, but only a further specification that fits in very logically with the rest of the account.

        5. Matthean vocabulary and style.  Brown's comparison of Matt 2:22-23 with Matt 4:12-16 shows a similarity of vocabulary and style, but his point is not verified, because it involves circular reasoning. The fact is that, since any historian will write according to his own style, one can expect to find Matthew's style appearing time and again in his history. Brown's reasoning assumes without proof that Matthew didn't write his history but only copied imaginary stories and reports that were already stereotyped in their wording and style, while, nevertheless, making some editorial changes and remarks. We have no difficulty in accepting that the evangelist composed Matt 2:22-23. What we deny are the unfounded assumptions that the material gathered by Matthew was imaginary and that, in his writing, he did not correctly express here a real historical fact.

        6. Parallels to other material.  Brown's third guideline for distinguishing what is "Matthean" from what is "pre-Matthean" is the presence of "parallels to other material." Brown sees a parallel to Matt 2:22-23 in the divine command to Moses in Exodus 4:19: Go to Egypt, for all those who were seeking your life are dead. Linking this parallel with what he sees to be the "pattern of angelic dream appearances to Joseph," Brown is led to believe that this pattern is "pre-Matthean" and joins other probabilities to suggest that the origin of Matthew's Infancy Narrative is "a pre-Matthean narrative patterned on the infancy of Moses and built around angelic dream appearances to Joseph." 10 This conclusion means that Brown has subscribed to the theory of Bultmann and Dibelius that Matthew's Infancy Narrative is basically a product of the religious imagination of the early Christian community, put together and edited by an unknown writer who came to be identified with Matthew the Apostle. Form-critical theory assumes that the early Christians, following a Jewish practice of Old Testament times in which imaginary scenes had been invented for religious purposes, took ideas and scenes from the Old Testament and shaped them into their own stories about Jesus, while the unknown editor "Matthew" made up the additional story of Joseph's later instruction in a dream to take Mary and the Child to Nazareth.

        7. Patterned on the story of the Patriarch Joseph and on the infancy of Moses.  According to form-critical theory, these early Christians were not psychologically able to invent entirely new stories; they built upon stories already existing in Jewish midrashic tradition. Brown thinks that the idea of the angelic dream appearances to Joseph may have been taken from the Old Testament narrative of the Patriarch Joseph, who was himself a "man of dreams" (cf. Gen 37:19) and a specialist in the interpretation of dreams. The Patriarch Joseph was taken down into Egypt and began a relationship with that Pharaoh which led centuries later to the command of another Pharaoh to kill all the male babies of the Israelites. Brown thinks that the similarity of the two names Joseph may have helped to suggest this parallel. But he goes on say that the parallelism between Jesus and Moses is even more deeply rooted in early Christian thought, and this is the reason why our Matthew "has chosen an infancy narrative which fills out the parallelism more perfectly." 11 Brown brings out in detail how Matthew follows the pattern of Moses in Exodus: the Pharaoh gave orders that all the male babies of the Hebrews were to be killed; much later the Pharaoh sought the life of Moses, and so Moses fled out of Egypt; but after the Pharaoh had died the Lord said to Moses, Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead. Brown conjectures that, from this Old Testament material, early Christians invented the stories of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt. 12

        8. The extra-biblical tradition.  Brown is impressed by parallels in the Jewish midrashic tradition about the infancy of Moses, especially in what is reported by the historian Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews. It is related in the Antiquities of the Jews that the Pharaoh at the time of the birth of Moses had been marvelously forewarned by a sacred scholar that a Hebrew leader was about to be born who would be a danger to his kingdom, and that this Pharaoh was alarmed upon hearing this. But, so narrates Josephus, the father of Moses, Amram, was told by God in a dream that his coming child would escape the death decreed by the Pharaoh. The parallelism here is indeed remarkable, and it continues in later stories of the Jewish midrashic tradition, according to which the Pharaoh of the time was forewarned of the coming birth of a "deliverer" of the Hebrew people "from a dream that had to be interpreted by his magicians (magi)." Brown has learned that, according to these later stories, the Pharaoh was alarmed by his dream, and so he ordered the killing of all the forthcoming Hebrew baby boys. The similarity of these stories to what we now read in the first two chapters of Matthew fortifies for Brown the conclusion that the contents of Matthew's Infancy Narrative were suggested and shaped from earlier Hebrew stories about the infancy of Moses. Brown believes that the appearances to Joseph in dreams are products of a "dream motif" that was copied from dream visions narrated in stories about the life of Moses. 13 This idea presupposes that in either case the dreams never really took place but are part of imaginary religious literature. Brown notes, "A dream motif is widespread and may be original in the Moses legend." He points out that both the Chronicle of Moses and Pseudo-Philo recount a dream experienced by Miriam, the sister of Moses, in which an angel appeared to her and told her that the child to be born to her parents would be the savior of his people. Since Miriam is the Hebrew form of Mary, it was easy for some early Christian to reshape this story into the appearance of an angel to the mother of Jesus and thus start the New Testament tradition of the Annunciation to Mary. 14

        9. The weakness of Brown's parallel with midrashic tradition.  Underlying Brown's conclusion that Matthew's Infancy Narrative was created imaginatively by Christians from parallel stories about Moses in the Jewish midrashic tradition there appears to be an error of anachronism. Brown, to be sure, is aware that, according to the historical evidence, "most" of these Jewish stories cannot be dated prior to the 80s, the time when he supposes that Matthew's Gospel was published, 15 but he is unaware that all of these Jewish stories appear to have been fashioned after the time when the episodes in Matthew 1-2 could already have been in circulation. The curious fact is that Brown, while he likes to examine all of the historical possibilities behind an episode, completely overlooks the idea that the Jewish stories may have been created imaginatively from the parallel accounts now recorded in the Gospels. And this kind of oversight is typical of form-critics. As I indicated in a previous article, 16 the episodes in Matt 1-2 were known by the Virgin Mary from the time that they took place, and she could easily have recounted these events to Matthew the Apostle as early as the gatherings in the Upper Room before the first Pentecost or at any time thereafter. Josephus wrote down the Jewish stories about the birth of Moses around the year 90 A.D., which would be up to sixty years after the time when some Christians and also some anti-Christian Jews could have known the episodes that Matthew has recorded. Brown goes along with Bultmann, Dibelius, and a host of other non-Catholic form-critical scholars, in believing that "no one of the four evangelists was an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus," and that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by someone else in or near the 80s. 17 Form-critics readily grant that a complex tradition of imaginative Christian stories could have developed in less than sixty years, but they take no account of the same possibility for the Jewish tradition that Brown is citing here. Yet the Jews had a motive for creating these stories. We know from the Acts of the Apostles that a heated debate between Christians and Jews over the facts about Jesus took place beginning from the time of the Resurrection of Jesus, and this debate could have motivated some creative persons to counteract the true accounts of the Infancy of Jesus with parallel stories about the birth of Moses. In fact, form-critics do assume that the stories in the Jewish midrashic tradition were invented, but their method prevents them from realistically considering the hypothesis that the Jewish stories were taken from the Christian tradition.

        10. Overlooking rationalist and modernist presuppositions.  Let us take a serious look at Brown's manner of reasoning. He begins from a theory of interpretation put together by rationalists who do not accept the possibility of any supernatural happenings in history and who, therefore, relegate all reports of such happenings to the realm of fantasy. He begins from a method elaborated by modernists which assumes in advance that what is reported in the New Testament is merely the imaginary product of a sub-rational religious instinct. Brown, as a Catholic exegete, does not profess the rationalism and the modernism from which form-criticism arose, but neither does he deal adequately with the way in which these false philosophies influence the method that he is using. His conclusion that the episodes recounted in Matthew's Infancy Narrative are imaginative adaptations of earlier Jewish stories is basically the same as the conclusion of Bultmann, Dibelius, and other rationalist scholars, and he admits that his conclusion follows from their method, but he assumes as a Catholic scholar that his method does not proceed from their rationalist presuppositions. Brown does present somewhat different evidence then they for his similar conclusion. I commented earlier on the weak, flimsy, and false arguments made by Dibelius and Bultmann for denying the reality of some pertinent episodes in Matt 1-2. 18 Now, Brown bases his arguments more upon an error of anachronism, but the result is the same because it is presupposed by the method. If one takes away the modernist presupposition that the Gospels are imaginative fabrications, and if one takes away the false psychological presupposition that the early Christians had to copy fantasies from earlier non-Christian stories, such as those of the pagans and of the Jews, then this whole aspect of form-critical analysis falls to pieces. True historians do not assume in advance what could have taken place and what could not have taken place, using rationalism as the basis of their judgments. Rather they use the instruments of their profession to determine what did take place, and, if what took place was miraculous, they accept it as miraculous. Catholic form-critics do not deny categorically that miracles could have taken place, but their method tempts them to deny miracles wherever Catholic dogma does not forbid, and always to retain a measure of doubt regarding the rest. True historians do not, like form-critics, deny that Jesus was born in Bethlehem on the basis of an unproved assumption that Jesus must have been born in Nazareth. When true historians read a sober account like that of Matthew's Gospel, they do not assume, using weak plausibilities to justify their assumption, that he made up events to smooth out his story; they need evidence which, in fact, is not there. A fundamental mistake that Catholic form-critics almost universally tend to make is that they do not attempt to show concretely and with respect to the particular passages that they are analyzing how their conclusions as Catholic form-critics do not carry with them the rationalist presuppositions of the method. If the first two chapters of Matthew are adjudged to present a complex of imaginative stories, what does this judgment do to Christian faith? How can a Catholic accept that these episodes regarding the early childhood of Jesus are imaginary, and that Christians could blithely fabricate such accounts as though they were true without being liars and deceivers? Catholic form-critics like Brown do not say that the composers of these stories were liars and deceivers, but neither do they squarely face these implications and provide adequate answers.

        11. Some studied contradictions between the Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke.  Brown finds that the infancy accounts of Matthew and Luke "are contrary to each other in a number of details." 19 In Luke, Mary lives in Nazareth; in Matthew, she lives in Bethlehem, since Matthew gives no hint of a coming to Bethlehem. Thus, Matthew considers Joseph and Mary to be citizens of Bethlehem, while Luke considers them to be citizens of Nazareth. 20 Luke says that the Holy Family returned tranquilly to Nazareth after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; "this is irreconcilable with Matthew's implication (2:16) that the child was almost two years old when the family fled from Bethlehem to Egypt." Hence, reasons Brown, it must be "ruled out" that both accounts are "completely historical." 21 He reckons that "at most, only one of these two narratives can stem from family reminiscences," thus establishing the "tacit assumption that most of the other is not historical." 22 Brown seriously doubts that the episodes of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt are historical. He finds no remembrance of the Flight into Egypt in the inspired accounts of the ministry of Jesus, and "a journey to Egypt is quite irreconcilable with Luke's account of an orderly and uneventful return from Bethlehem to Nazareth shortly after the birth of the child." 23 Brown notes that an attempt has been made to support an actual sojourn of the Holy Family in Egypt by the fact that some Jewish stories originating in the second century A.D. represent their presence there. But he is quick to point out that these stories were invented to discredit the Holy Family by having them flee to Egypt to avoid the censure of an illegitimate birth and to get themselves involved in black magic and occult practices, with the result that this "Jewish polemic against the Gospel picture of Jesus" does not provide "independent support" for the historicity of such an event. 24

        12. A more realistic look at Brown's studied contradictions.  It is interesting to note how quickly Brown sees in these second-century A.D. Jewish stories a motive of discrediting the reputation of Jesus and his Mother, as soon as these stories are used in some way to support the historicity of Matthew's Gospel, and yet is prevented by his form-critical approach from even suspecting that the Jewish stories of the first century A.D. might have had the similar motive of raising the image of Moses by taking episodes in the history of Jesus that are now recorded in St. Matthew's Gospel and applying them to the infancy of Moses, when such an alternative would support the historicity of St. Matthew's Gospel. And the reason for this is that the progress of form-criticism, as it was authentically conceived and is still at least subconsciously practiced, is tied solely to doubting and denying the historicity of the Sacred Scriptures, so that residues of seemingly historical events that form-critics believe that they have not yet eliminated represent only delays on the way and work remaining to be done. But form-critics have never actually demonstrated that Matthew and Luke "are contrary to each other in a number of details," as Brown believes. Matthew doesn't say or imply that Mary and Joseph were fixed inhabitants of Bethlehem; Brown reads this into the account in order to enhance his theory. Nor does Matthew say or imply that "the child was almost two years old when the family fled from Bethlehem to Egypt." While Brown often tells his readers that he is examining all of the possibilities, he has not read carefully what Matt 2:16 gives us to understand. Matthew narrates here that King Herod "sent [soldiers] and killed all of the boys who were in Bethlehem and in all of its surroundings from two years of age downwards, according to the time that he had found out from the Magi." This does not mean that the Child was almost two years old. It means that the Child Jesus may have been nearly one year old. It is obvious that the soldiers sent to kill these boys were not told to check birth certificates first to determine how old the babies were. Herod, as a cruel and cunning man, would assuredly have at least doubled the probable age of the Child, to make sure that, if He were a big baby for his age, he would not escape the massacre. Brown is persuaded by the fact that Josephus "never mentions a massacre of children at Bethlehem." But how would Josephus have known? There was no reporter covering the event, and it would not have been included in the annals of Herod's court. Massacres were common occurrences in those days and could easily escape the record. Hence, Jesus may have been close to a year old, but there is greater likelihood that He had more recently been born, if the star of Bethlehem appeared to the Magi in the East, not at the time of his birth, but at the time of his conception, and they then took at least nine months to arrive. It is disappointing to see that Brown did not even think of this possibility. Nor is there any good reason why references to the Flight into Egypt would have to have been included in the inspired account of the ministry of Jesus, as Brown requires for its acceptance as historical.

        13. The question of "family reminiscences."  What Brown vaguely refers to as "family reminiscences" I have concretized in the reminiscences of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Luke tells us twice (2:19; 2:51) that Mary "kept all of these things, pondering them in her heart." 25 I have explained elsewhere how Mary could have been the principal source both of Matthew's and of Luke's accounts. 26 The account in St. Luke would have been a narrative that Mary discreetly told to relatives during the life of Jesus, while the account in Matthew consists mainly of events that Mary would have kept hidden before the death of Jesus, because their telling could have put his life into immediate danger from the political authorities. Thus, one could conjecture that, as early as during the fifty days that Mary spent with the Apostles in the Upper Room before the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, she could have narrated these hidden events to an inquiring Matthew, or they could have come to him later, whether directly or indirectly. Brown does not consider these possibilities, and so he uncritically concludes that "at most, only one of these two narratives can stem from family reminiscences." And he assuredly fails to read "between the lines" when he assumes that Matthew's account cannot be reconciled historically with "Luke's account of an orderly and uneventful return from Bethlehem to Nazareth shortly after the birth of the child." 27 From what I have indicated in the preceding paragraph, it may not have been very long after the nativity of Jesus that the Holy Family fled into Egypt and returned to Nazareth. And Luke doesn't say that this was "an orderly and uneventful return"; he says that they returned to Galilee to their town Nazareth "after they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord" (Luke 2:39). Since Luke does not say "immediately after," nor does he say that nothing happened in between, and what did happen in between was dangerous to tell, we can easily see that the episodes in Matthew 2 may have been left out in an earlier telling by Luke's source (the Blessed Virgin Mary) as a legitimate omission, considering also that the Flight into Egypt did take place in obedience to a command of the Lord. Brown feels that there is "an a priori unlikelihood" that Mary was Matthew's source for the material in his Infancy Narrative, for the reason that Matthew's narrative "centers upon Joseph," while Mary "figures only on a secondary level." 28 But this reason lacks all likelihood. Why would Mary, in her perfect humility, have needed to make herself the center of the story? This is, indeed, a flimsy reason for excluding her testimony.

        14. From the viewpoint of historical science.  Raymond Brown's conclusion that the writer of Matthew 2:22-23 invented the journey of Mary, Joseph, and the Infant Jesus to Nazareth after a non-existent return from Egypt to Judea does not stand up under critical analysis. Brown's refusal to accord historical fact to this report of Matthew is based upon unproved assumptions, faulty reasoning, and anachronism. The "internal tensions" within Matthew's account and the conflicting affirmations that Brown espies between the first two chapters of Matthew and the first two chapters of Luke can be satisfactorily resolved with a little study. Historical scientists do make use of conflicting testimony to help them to ascertain the historical facts, but they first use their ingenuity and resourcefulness to see if the conflicts are really there. Form-critics often use what are only apparent conflicts or contradictions to build their system of conclusions. In this respect form-critics are not historical scientists.


1. Cf. Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Garden City: Doubleday, 1977), 211.

2. I have given some treatment to the possibility that the hagion in Luke 1:35 translates Nazir in Living Tradition 84, art. 13.

3. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 217.

4. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 106-107.

5. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 109.

6. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 105-107.

7. See J.F. McCarthy, "Really Called by the Prophets a Nazorean," in Living Tradition 85, no. 4.

8. Cf. M. Dibelius, English translation, From Tradition to Gospel (Cambridge, England, 1971), 129.

9. Cf. R. Bultmann, English translation, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (Oxford, 1963), 439.

10. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 107-108.

11. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 112.

12. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 112-113.

13. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 114-115.

14. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 114, note 42 and 116, note 45.

15. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 114.

16. See "Called by the Prophets a Nazorean," in Living Tradition 84 (November 1999), no. 14.

17. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 27. Again on page 45: "Most scholars today maintain that the Gospel [of Matthew] was written in Syria by an unknown Greek-speaking Jewish Christian, living in the 80s in a mixed community with converts of both Jewish and Gentile descent." I am not examining here the weakness of Brown's opinion about the late date of composition of St. Matthew's Gospel. The point that is rather being made here is that the episodes reported in Matthew's Infancy Narrative were known by Mary from the time of the Birth of Christ and could have been known by Matthew the Apostle and other members of the Church as early as about 30 A.D.

18. See my comments in "Really Called by the Prophets a Nazorean," Living Tradition 85, nos. 9-14.

19. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 36.

20. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 207.

21. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 36.

22. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 35, note 25.

23. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 225.

24. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 225-226.

25. So affirms Pope Paul VI (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI [1972], p. 1325): "St. Luke, as if to indicate the authentic source of that night at Bethlehem, concludes it with this precious testimony: 'And Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19).'" Pope Paul VI again affirms (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI [1974], pp. 24-25): "Very probably Mary was the genuine and direct source of information for Luke, the evangelist who wrote this." Cf. Pope John Paul II, General Audience of 13 September 1995.

26. See Living Tradition 84, no. 14.

27. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 225.

28. Cf. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 33.

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