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The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus's Birthby Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
Synopses & Reviews
In The First Christmas, two of today's top Jesus scholars, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, join forces to show how history has biased our reading of the nativity story as it appears in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. As they did for Easter in their previous book, The Last Week, here they explore the beginning of the life of Christ, peeling away the sentimentalism that has built up over the last two thousand years around this most well known of all stories to reveal the truth of what the gospels actually say. Borg and Crossan help us to see this well-known narrative afresh by answering the question, What do these stories mean? in the context of both the first century and the twenty-first century. They successfully show that the Christmas story, read in its original context, is far richer and more challenging than people imagine.
"Borg and Crossan, leading scholars of the historical Jesus, explore the nativity in much the way they tackled the crucifixion and resurrection in their previous book, 'The Last Week.' They begin by discussing the 'very different' versions of Jesus's birth in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, not to point out contradictions, 'as debunkers of the stories often do,' but to get readers to focus on the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) details and understand what they meant in the 1st century. 'We are not concerned with the factuality of the birth stories,' they say. 'We see the nativity stories as neither fact nor fable, but as parables and overtures.' The Enlightenment, they argue, led many to think that 'truth and factuality are the same.' They quote Huston Smith as calling the obsession with factual veracity 'fact fundamentalism.' 'Believe whatever you want about whether the stories are factual,' they write. 'Now, let's talk about what these stories mean.' By Sally Quinn is co-host of washingtonpost.com's religion blog, 'On Faith.'" Reviewed by Sally Quinn, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Borg and Crossan analyze the genealogies, annunciations, places, characters, and imagery of Matthew and Luke with a fidelity to the texts that conjures up visions of Bible students assiduously fingering the lines. Led by Borg and Crossan, such study is high adventure, not drudgery." Booklist
The follow-up to The Last Week, this is Borg and Crossan's account of the two nativity narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Focusing on the meaning of the Christmas story, the authors hope that readers will see the nativity story anew and appreciate the Gospels powerful message.
“Who could argue with the message the authors draw from the Bibles 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.”
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.
About the Author
Marcus J. Borg is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and author of the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, The God We Never Knew, and Jesus.
John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus at De Paul University, is widely regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus and Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. He lives in Minneola, Florida.
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