Top positive review
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Fascinating new look about the birth narratives
on 6 November 2008
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.