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The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus's Birth Paperback – 6 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (6 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061430714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061430718
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 896,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Who could argue with the message the authors draw from the Bible s Christmas stories? Light in the darkest time of the year, hope in a period of creeping despair these are powerful and universal themes that can give everyone a stake in Christmas. --USA Today

About the Author

Marcus J. Borg, author of bestseller Heart of Christianity, is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and author of the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, The God We Never Knew, and coauthor of Jesus: A New Vision with N. T. Wright. He was an active member of the Jesus Seminar when it focused on the historical Jesus and he has been chair of the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature. John Dominic Crossan is generally regarded as the leading historical Jesus scholar in the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, The Birth of Christianity, and Who Killed Jesus? He lives in Clermont, Florida. John Dominic Crossan was born in Nenagh County in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1934. He was educated in Ireland and the United States, received a Doctorate of Divinity from Maynooth College in Ireland in 1959, and did post-doctoral research at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1959 to 1961 and at the École Biblique in Jerusalem from 1965 to 1967. He was a member of a thirteenth-century Roman Catholic religious order, the Servites (Ordo Servorum Mariae), from 1950 to 1969 and was an ordained priest from 1957 to 1969. He joined DePaul University in Chicago in 1969 and remained there until 1995. He is now a Professor Emeritus in its Department of Religious Studies.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Johnny P on 20 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a good book, that offers contextual evidence for the notion that the birth narratives are clearly symbolic and parabolic. I think you'd be hard pressed to be able to seriously defend the factual authenticity of the birth narratives without undergoing some serious mental gymnastics, and swapping overwhelming plausibility for underwhelming and highly dbious possibility.

There are interesting passages on symbology and themes running through Matthew and Luke. The only thing I ever wonder is how Crossan and Borg can get away with calling themselves Christians. Is it so they can still hold tenure and get publishing deals. It seems to me that they are at best very tenuously 'Christian'. Not that I'm coomplaining!

Moreover, I like books like this because they are short enough to read quickly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Woo on 1 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an eminently readable account of the birth of Jesus Christ, set in its historical context. Borg and Crossan are well known for their interpretation and explanation of biblical history that really brings home the truth of what happened 2000 years ago. If anyone is interested in clear and straighforward account of Christ's birth and why it was seen to be so important historically and in the Jewish cuture of the time, then this is THE book to read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Helen Hancox TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 Nov 2008
Format: Hardcover
The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are so familiar, heard every Christmas in church and on the radio, that I wasn't sure there was much more I could learn about them. How wrong I was! Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan's book started brilliantly; within the first chapter I was hooked on what they unfolded. They approach the birth narratives as parables/metaphors, not particularly addressing modern-day ideas of historicity but instead looking at the narratives and their structure in terms of what the gospel writers might have wanted to say. It becomes clear that Matthew and Luke are very different, with Matthew presenting Jesus as the New Moses, reflecting many images and ideas from Jewish writings, and Luke's emphasis on the stories as an overture to his larger themes of women, the marginalised and the Holy Spirit.

The book goes step-by-step through some parts of the nativity stories, explaining the historical context for many of the events, showing the parallels and the differences between the gospels, relating parts to historical or metaphorical events. I found the book began slightly to drag by the end but I was really taken by much of what they said, particularly the links Matthew makes between Jesus, Moses and Caesar. Some more conservative Christians will probably find the liberal tone of the book too much to stomach which is a real shame as there are some real gems in here, but for those with an open mind and an interest in understanding more about the world of the time of Jesus this is an unmissable book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan Clarkson on 4 Jan 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Borg and Crossan reflect on the Christmas story as presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in this scholarly yet clearly written book. It is an excellent accompaniment to Christmas celebrations and an antidote to both the blatant consumerism and the cloying sentimentality which all too often cloud our appreciation of the story of the birth of Jesus.
They stress, at the beginning of the book, that the birth stories in these two Gospels are like overtures which introduce themes which are developed in the later chapters of the Gospels. The authors set the story of Jesus in the context of Hebrew and classical history and literature and show that Jesus brings peace to the world through nonviolence and justice, unlike the Roman empire which sought to bring peace through victory and violence.
This book will be welcomed by those Christians who have a radical approach to their faith and who see their work to be through following the example of Jesus' commitment to nonviolence. It is an encouraging and inspiring book for all those who wish to challenge the lies told by empires in the 21st century
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Cooke-Davies on 1 Dec 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Two of the world's leading New Testament scholars bring both their scholarship and their personal faith into this brilliant e plantation of what the authors of the Christmas Stories were up to when they wrote down their accounts of the birth of Jesus. In clear and accessible language,this book brings alive both the joy and the challenge of Christmas for the reflective reader. It is a book that everyone who calls themselves a "Christian" should read.
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