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The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth | [Marcus J. Borg, John Dominic Crossan]

The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Birth

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. 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 21st century. They successfully show that the Christmas story, read in its original context, is far richer and more challenging than people imagine.
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Publisher's Summary

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 2,000 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 21st century. They successfully show that the Christmas story, read in its original context, is far richer and more challenging than people imagine.

©2011 Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers

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  •  
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 02-02-12
    Jacobus Johannesburg, South Africa 02-02-12 Member Since 2009

    When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else.

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    "Christmas... Something interesting for everyone"

    Following their book "The Last Week" the "The First Christmas" is a collaboration between two liberal yet main stream New Testament scholars, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, on the two nativity accounts in the Bible, that of Matthew and Luke. The writers take each account and discuss it in its own right, therefore moving away from the classic harmonisation of how Matthew and Luke relate Jesus' birth. With their background knowledge of the era in which Jesus live, they are able to illuminate both stories with very interesting facts, that puts Christmas in a new light. In the light of Roman Imperial theology they also bring out the political message for Christians.

    The way that they respected and used Christian tradition while discussing the two Christmas narratives stood out. I think this is one of the highlights of this book. The book is also written in a very accessible manner. What I found a bit challenging was the references to Biblical texts that were difficult to remember especially when the content of an Old Testament passage was not discussed. Some information might also be common knowledge, especially for ministers of religion.

    The book is guaranteed to provoke further discussion about Christmas and its meaning. While written by liberal theologians, this book will also be of value to Evangelical Christians and may even interest atheists. The narration is fair and easy to follow.

    The book comes highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harold Sioux City, IA, United States 01-09-12
    Harold Sioux City, IA, United States 01-09-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Renews the Christmas spirit"
    If you could sum up The First Christmas in three words, what would they be?

    Critical, Renews, Reaffirms.


    What about John Pruden’s performance did you like?

    Clear and he brings the authors' to mind as you listen.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Borg and Crosson are leaders in the Jesus Movement. Their focus on the Infancy Narratives has the strength of reason and thereby puts them in a new light; a light that makes it possible for thinking people to revisit them without


    Any additional comments?

    People don't have to leave their brains at the door when they enter these mysteries.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 12-11-12
    Michael 12-11-12

    I am a middle aged male who thinks radio is bubble gum for the brain, so I listen to books in the car. At least one a month.

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    "Quality if you are looking for understanding"
    What made the experience of listening to The First Christmas the most enjoyable?

    The quality of thought was high. I enjoyed the value these two guys bring to the thinking of the time.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    It is not about characters, but themes Christ brought to the world and the various take each Godspell writer had on them.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Justice through peace or Justice through violence.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me think. I like to listen to a book that gives me a new thought that I had not had myself. There are a few good nuggets in this book.


    Any additional comments?

    This is worth it. I generally like this type of book, but most times these type writers will be too high brow or pompous to be worth the time. These guys are just trying to explain.
    They also do not seem to have an agenda of converting your or proving that God does not exist. The are reflective with context.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rory Cooney Barrington IL USA 10-03-11
    Rory Cooney Barrington IL USA 10-03-11 Member Since 2003
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    "Fine book from Crossan and Borg, as always, but..."

    I have to say that someone who reads books in a particular discipline (in this case, scripture and to a lesser extent Christian liturgy) ought to have a bit more expertise in the vocabulary of that discipline. "Magnificat", general pronounced with soft Italian (or liturgical Latin) vowels, was constantly pronounced like a character in a Lloyd Webber musical. "Collect", meaning a specific liturgical prayer in the liturgy, was pronounced with the accent on the second syllable, like the verb. Things like this are a distraction from the text as a whole, and really should be better directed and edited. No complaints about the book itself, and I'm grateful that this kind of book, somewhat less in vogue than, say, John Grisham or Stephen King, is also made available for us audio addicts.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denis Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 01-30-13
    Denis Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 01-30-13 Member Since 2012

    Got nothing better to do than to listen to 2 books a week

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    "Insights I never knew about"
    Where does The First Christmas rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    3rd quartile


    What did you like best about this story?

    Having studied the New Testament (in Greek) during six years in the seminary, the Old Testament references outlined by Borg & Crossan were new to me - though not surprising now that I think about it since the authors of the New Testament birth stories only knew of the Old Testament. Fleshes out with scrupulous documentation (that only Crossan can do) new insights about the New Testament stories.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    No particular favorite - the entire work was fascinating.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No laughs - no cries


    Any additional comments?

    A worthwhile read for the novice and the experienced first century history buffs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 05-27-12
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 05-27-12

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

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    "Not a Good Listen"

    I have read and enjoyed a number of books by these 2 authors, and much that they point out here is interesting. BUT they say it over and over again. I'm just not sure that so very much repetition is acceptable in any book. The reader, also, doesn't help. He is very much of the college-professor-reading-a-lecture style. There is no feeling in his reading -- not sure he's even registering himself what he says.
    Then there's a personal complaint. Extensive quotations from the Bible are very appropriate, of course, but using the "plain English" version as opposed to the beautifully poetic King James version is really a crime here, and it especially mars the audio edition. The selected translation may be accurate, but it is very drab and so diminishes the power of the Biblical Christmas stories.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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