Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Margaret Barker – New Book on the Original Christmas – Jesus’s Nativity

Posted by NT Wrong on July 20, 2008

Margaret Barker’s Christmas: The Original Story will be out on 23 October 2008 (SPCK). Barker is a former President of the Society for Old Testament Study and author of many innovative books on ancient Judaism/Christianity.

Here’s a summary of what Christmas: The Original Story is all about, from the back cover of the book:

“The story of Christmas is loved by all Christians, and its cultural influence is felt far and wide, not only in the art and literature of the Church but also in the Qu’ran. Much of the original story, however, is not found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and so some of the detail in Christian art and literature is not always understood.

Margaret Barker uses her knowledge of temple tradition and Jewish culture in the time of Jesus to set the story in its original cultural and literary context. By examining the widely used Infancy Gospel of James, and by uncovering layers of allusion in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, she reveals what the Christmas story originally meant, and goes on to show how this understanding can be found in later texts such as the Arabic Infancy Gospel and legends known in mediaeval Europe.”

(n.b. The date of publication is entirely coincidental.)

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