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The First Christmas: The Story of Jesus’ Birth in History and Tradition

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Interested in the Christmas story and what it meant to the earliest Christians?

In this free eBook, expert Bible scholars and archaeologists offer glimpses of the first Christmas as recounted and understood by those who first told the beloved story.

Discover what Bible experts have to say about the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, the history of Christmas, the three wise men, the adoration of the magi, the star of Bethlehem, the date of Jesus’ birth, shepherds and angels at the nativity, the location of Jesus’ birth, the magi in art and literature and early Christian Christmas traditions.

The time-honored traditions of Christmas are dear to the hearts of Christians today. The story of the first Christmas recaptures the imagination as it is retold year after year in Bible readings, carols, Christmas pageants, live manger scenes and crèche displays, to name a few. Perhaps in the midst of all this, we might wonder what the story of Jesus’ birth meant to the earliest Christians. How did their story differ from the one we tell today, and what significance did they give to each member of the cast of characters?

Chapter One

Witnessing the Divine: The Magi in Art and Literature

Witnessing the Divine

Early and modern-day Christians alike have been captivated in particular by the three magi in the Christmas story. Author Robin Jensen tells us that early Christian art contains more representations of the adoration of the magi than of the infant Jesus in the manger. What key theological message did the early Christians see in the story of the magi? Jensen uncovers the answer by tracing the magi’s numerous appearances in art and literature from the period in “Witnessing the Divine: The Magi in Art and Literature.”

Chapter Two

The Magi and the Star: Babylonian Astronomy Dates Jesus’ Birth

The Magi and the Star

Perhaps the most mystifying part of the magi’s journey is the star that guides them. Scholars and astronomers have tried for some time to identify a celestial event that corresponds with the magi’s guiding star, in part because it would also pinpoint the date of Jesus’ birth. Where modern science fails to explain the mysterious star, Babylonian astronomy gives better clues in “The Magi and the Star: Babylonian Astronomy Dates Jesus’ Birth” by Simo Parpola.

Chapter Three

What Was the Star that Guided the Magi?

What was the star that guided the magi

Author Dale C. Allison, Jr. does not look to astronomy for an explanation of the magi’s star, though he does look heavenward. In “What Was the Star that Guided the Magi,” he suggests that another sort of celestial entity was the bright light that guided the magi’s journey to pay homage to the infant Jesus.

This free eBook is a very special opportunity. In it, Bible scholars and archaeologists offer glimpses of the first Christmas as recounted and understood by those who first told the beloved story.

Chapter Four

Where Was Jesus Born? O Little Town of … Nazareth?


The star, tradition tells us, led the magi to the tiny Judean town of Bethlehem. However, many scholars of the New Testament have come to the conclusion that Jesus was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem. Steve Mason’s “O Little Town of … Nazareth?” explores the the passages in the Biblical text that suggest Nazareth was Jesus’ birthplace.

Chapter Five

Where Was Jesus Born? Bethlehem … Of Course


Despite the belief held by some researchers that Jesus was born in Nazareth, other prominent New Testament scholars remain convinced that the first Christmas took place in Bethlehem. Jerome Murphy O’Connor supports the Bethlehem tradition using archaeology, the gospels and other ancient texts in “Bethlehem … Of Course.”

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15 Responses

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  1. Tom says

    Yeah… Except he wasn’t born during the pagan festival of Christmas. Not even in the same month. I’m not certain if its touched in this book, but this title slams the validity of this book for me.

  2. J. says

    Jesus was born on an Appointed Time, one of the Feasts of the LORD. Christ was never a part of Christmas until men’s traditions forced Him there. Celebrate The LORD’s Holy Days which completely revolve around The Messiah in the Old Testament, New Testament and when Jesus returns. What a glorious time that will be!

  3. Tom says

    Nowhere in The Bible does it say there were three wise men. Men’s traditions, why do people cling to them over what God commands?

  4. mary says

    thank you! , my uncle Romy and Auntie Georgie Solina are astrologers who also mentioned about charting Jesus’ birthdate approximates it around august .. now am excited in receiving my free ebook ..

  5. Br says

    Jesus didn’t for celebration. He came that we might be saved from our sin. The only way we can celebrate CHRIST is to live the life of CHRIST. ( Mathew 1vs21; Romans 13 vs 11-13). Other things are just human imagination. People has forsaken Christ command to “preach the gospel to every creature and are following after traditions of men.

  6. Alembe says

    We cannot remember the death of someone without remembering his birth! if we accept Jesus was crucified because of our sin, we must accept also his birth.the very important thing his born!

  7. Krzysztof says

    R.E.Brown, The Birth of the Messiah, 1977 is a classic one;what’s new?

  8. Merit says

    Christmas celebration is neither a sin nor men’s imagination, but is a medium of thanks giving and for us to remember our saviour who died for us to be save and draw us closer to our heavenly father.

  9. Irene says

    Christmas is a medium of showing the love of christ, It is also a time of giving.

  10. buddy says

    Everything important that happened in the Bible, happened on a Jewish feast day. Yeshua(Jesus) was born on the Jewish Feast day, The Feast of Tabernacles(Sukkot). Yeshua lived out the Jewish feasts in his lifetime! Read what Feast Of Tabernacle is all about and compare Yeshuas name as mentioned in the book Of Matthew 1:23 – EMMANUEL(GOD WITH US). December 25 was set up by the catholic church to accommadate the pagens to worship their pagen god Mytheia, and for the catholics to do it together.

  11. Augustine says

    My questions are is it good or bad to for us to choose a day out of twelve month and celebrate our savior’s birth ? 2 is it right or wrong to celebrate our Messiah in the day which our God created the same day which pagen r celebrating their god too?

  12. Nicolas says

    Thanks! Hi from Paris and Happy New Year.

  13. oscar says

    isnt it possible that when dec. 25 was chosen to celebrate jesus’ birth is god’s will in itself.? because as the bible readers always says that when you read and study the bible you are being guided by the holy spirit. right..?

  14. Frank says

    No one knows the birth date of Jesus. It isn’t written in the gospels. In fact not much is written about Jesus except possibly his sayings and parables. The gospels are not biography. The only date could possibly be the death of Jesus just before the first night of Passover. He had to be buried in a hurry before sunset, but there’s no date or year.
    The 25th of December is arbitrary, being the Roman festival of Sol Invictus, the winter solstice.
    It really wasn’t important in ancient times.
    We have no dates of the emperors’ births, so why Jesus’? It’s a western idea.

  15. Irine says

    Shalom,nd praise Jesus,i guese its a matter of understanding the jewish perspective verses gentile view,,one thing is sure that the only way to salvation is to believe that Yashuah Hamashach was born died and resurrected and is seated at the right hand of God when,why,how is not my concern if this differences affects it..lets incorporate peace and share salvation…

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