Why Historicity Still Matters: Raymond Brown and the Infancy Narratives
Dawes, Gregory W.
The infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke pose in an acute form the question of the historical value of the Gospels. Raymond Brown suggests that redaction criticism can bypass this question by spelling out the theological message intended by the evangelists. But his own exegesis suggests this is to misunderstand the genre of this literature. Brown’s indifference to historicity would be justified only if the evangelists were writing something resembling allegory, a form of narrative in which the literal sense of the story is the (dispensable) clothing of a spiritual message. But Brown’s exegesis suggests that the evangelists do not regard the literal sense of these stories as dispensable; they regard their theological message as resting on a foundation of historical fact. It follows that if interpreters focus on the intention of the evangelists, they cannot avoid addressing the question of historicity.
Publisher: Pacifica Theological Studies Association
Keywords: biblical studies; historicity; gospels; infancy narratives; religion
Research Type: Journal Article