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The First Christmas [Kindle Edition]

Marcus J. Borg , John Dominic Crossan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

“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

 

In The First Christmas Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan—top Jesus scholars and authors of The Last Week—help us see the real Christmas story buried in the familiar Bible accounts. Basing their interpretations on the two nativity narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Borg and Crossan focus on the literal story—the inner truth rather than the historical facts—to offer a clear and uplifting message of hope and peace. With The First Christmas readers get a fresh, deep, and new understanding of the nativity story, enabling us to better appreciate the powerful message of the Gospels.


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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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 545 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061430714
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 1 edition (13 Oct. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000WPXTJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #312,027 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating new look about the birth narratives 6 Nov. 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Transform your Christmas Hymns and Services 19 Jun. 2009
Format:Paperback
An attempt by two distinguished American scholars to get at the heart of what the birth stories mean without getting embroiled in their historical accuracy or the biblical and theological arguments arising within them, beginning with the gospel stories which they see as overtures, parables or stories with meanings rather than history, setting the tone and themes for what is to come.
The context is then explored `within Christianity, within Judaism, within the Roman empire', and against the background of the immediate past and explore with no shortage of detailed information on the ancient world's view of virgin birth and divine conception.
Light (as opposed to darkness) is regarded as an archetypal symbol whose imagery pervades the Old and New Testaments and probably explains why the birth of Jesus taking place on a winter evening in the middle of a dark night. This is not so much historic time as parabolic time, metaphorical time, sacred time and symbolic time.
Predictions (`that it may be fulfilled . . .' ) are not predictions of something to happen in the distant future and certainly not predictions of Jesus. Matthew, for example, is not trying to prove that Jesus was the Messiah nor was he trying to impress or convince `outsiders' but to reflect the convictions of `insiders'.
The value of these stories lies in what mean for us today rather than what meant in origin. We are to understand and relate them to our situation, with an emphasis on joy but joy with conflict, and see advent as a time of anticipation, expectation and repentant preparation but a repentance that has more to do with change than with confessing our sins.
Commended especially to preachers and leaders of worship. It could transform our Christmas services, create new life in the midst of traditional ritual and present the gospel in a way which has meaning for everybody.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A andy companion 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
5.0 out of 5 stars setting Christ's birth in context 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating new look about the birth narratives 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.
Comment | 
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I didnt agree with the way they said the Christmas ...
I didnt agree with the way they said the Christmas story was all makebelieve. As a mother I am sure Mary would have told everyone about Jesus birth and though the details may be... Read more
Published 2 months ago by M J SMITH
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas stripped of consumerism and sentimentality
Borg and Crossan reflect on the Christmas story as presented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in this scholarly yet clearly written book. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Susan Clarkson
5.0 out of 5 stars The vital message of Christmas for today
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... Read more
Published 21 months ago by T. J. Cooke-Davies
3.0 out of 5 stars The First Christmas
I have read a number of books by Borg alone or by Borg and Crossan. They are usually easy reads, but that is not the case with this. Read more
Published on 9 Jan. 2012 by Liz Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A good and honest introduction to the Nativity stories
I have read this book several times and I have also sent copies of to friends; I can therefore say that I believe it be a book which demands a wider readership. Read more
Published on 9 Jan. 2012 by Eddie Normal
5.0 out of 5 stars A laywoman's view
I had known for many years that some of the titles used by early Christians to refer to Jesus upset the Romans ( to put it mildly! Read more
Published on 26 Feb. 2009 by E. A. M. Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Unanswered questions
A well researched and interesting book which casts new light on the biblical stories of Jesus' birth and makes one think again. Read more
Published on 10 Feb. 2009 by M. Findley
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