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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"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.
"Renews the Christmas spirit"
Critical, Renews, Reaffirms.
Clear and he brings the authors' to mind as you listen.
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
People don't have to leave their brains at the door when they enter these mysteries.
"Quality if you are looking for understanding"
The quality of thought was high. I enjoyed the value these two guys bring to the thinking of the time.
It is not about characters, but themes Christ brought to the world and the various take each Godspell writer had on them.
Justice through peace or Justice through violence.
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.
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.
"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.
"Terrible Blasphemous Viewpoint"
I am a scholar of the Christmas story and am thoroughly appalled by this book. They basically say the story is not factual, which is not backed up at all. Then they blindly say Matthew and Luke's accounts are separate stories (I'm not sure, maybe Jesus came twice??) that cannot be merged. Then they say it was just a parable told by the disciples that isn't meant to be true, just have a meaning. Wow. at that point I stopped and am returning this to Audible. Seriously, is this the only way you can sell a book?
"thought provoking, a little hard to follow audibly"
Challenging, added more political context than I think I want to think about but still very spiritual. Will make my thoughts and devotion for advent 2015 more broad. A little hard to follow as an audible book though . An audible clue that it was a list of what sounded like would be written bullet points would have helped me follow. I will probably get a paper copy in order to read and compare with my Bible.
"Insights I never knew about"
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.
No particular favorite - the entire work was fascinating.
No laughs - no cries
A worthwhile read for the novice and the experienced first century history buffs.
"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.
"Fantastic - a real gem"
As you would expect with Marcus Borg this is a really good book. Clear and accurate analysis of the text and story, opening windows on the real meaning behind the story we all know so well.
I love that Borg's faith was living and passionate, that he longed to see God's Kingdom come alive within people and society at large.
I wish I could get this book into the hands of every Church and certainly every member of the Churches I look after.
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