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Recent study of the Gospels has produced some surprising challenges to the historicity of the stories surrounding Jesus' birth and resurrection. There is skepticism about the star of Bethlehem, the magi, and the census, skepticism about the angels at the tomb and the manner and time of Jesus' appearances. What then about the more fundamental issues that touch on Christian faith? Was Jesus conceived without a human father? Did he rise bodily from the dead? In this book, a noted Catholic scholar surveys the biblical evidence pertinent to those two questions and evaluates it clearly and honestly - and briefly enough to meet the needs of the interested reader. His forthright use of biblical criticism may offend some; the carefulness of his conclusions may offend others; but the book offers real help to those who prefer objective discussion to predetermined answers.

Raymond Brown, who has taught both at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, and at Woodstock College, was Auburn Professor of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, New York until his death in 1998. He was chosen outstanding American Catholic theologian of the year in 1971, and was also elected president of the Catholic Biblical Association. In 1972 he was named an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Edinburgh, the first American priest to be so honored. At the same time, he was the only American named by Pope Paul VI to the newly reconstituted Roman Pontifical Biblical Commission. This appointment, the pope stated, was accorded to twenty scholars "outstanding for their learning, prudence, and Catholic regard for the magisterium of the Church," and was granted after consultation with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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