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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

What listeners say about The First Christmas

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  • Jacobus
  • 02-02-2012

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 11-12-2012

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Harold
  • 09-01-2012

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.

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  • KSJ
  • 04-01-2015

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.

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  • Greg K.
  • 30-01-2013

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.

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  • Rory Cooney
  • 03-10-2011

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-12-2020

Magnificently Glorious!

A thoroughly intellectual big picture, big world theological, political, cultural, spiritual writing of enlightenment ( literally!). A gift of important perspectives, teachings and learning I only wish I had discovered sooner in my life. Questions I have had and mysteries I’ve not understood all became crystal clear while now yearning for more books by these same authors.

On Christmas Eve I went to bed empty and sad because we are quarantining and had had very little of our traditional family time or the experiences of recalling the narratives, music and visuals of the Christmas Story. I wanted to listen to something that would bring the feeling of Christmas into my heart. I was simply looking for something familiar, but I was immediately catapulted into this deep, smart, historical, thought provoking, superbly organized life changing masterpiece. I can’t get copies of the book out to my family fast enough. Thank you!

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  • Susanna Van Zyl
  • 19-12-2020

Awful book

I enjoy reading different viewpoints and contextual interpretations of scripture. I could not get past the second chapter and will be returning this book. The language is pretentious and makes it sound ridiculous- not to mention the viewpoint of Jesus birth being a “ parable” and to “ put aside the factual aspect”. I have read hundreds of books in the past 15 years- this is by far the worst. I will never read another book by these authors.

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  • Elizabeth Koffron Eisen
  • 19-12-2019

Borg at his Best

I’ve listened to the book twice now and find something new revealed each time. Connecting concepts threaded throughout the book can be hard to track without also applying visual “glue”.

Mr Priden’s voice is very pleasant. As a trained Roman Catholic classical musician, my ears occasionally wiggled upon hearing odd pronunciations and phrasing. Entertaining.

Highly recommend pairing the audiobook with text for ultimate enjoyment of this book.

Blessings.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-11-2019

Joy to the world!

I have learned so much! At first I felt unsure, at the end my heart filled with joy!
Gread read...

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  • Joseph
  • 11-12-2015

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.

2 people found this helpful

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