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4 Stars Out Of 5
November 17, 2010
If you're expecting a truly academic book, this isn't for you. However, this book is written in an easy and understandable way. When the author gets to a point that most Christians wouldn't know, for example the New Testament Apocrypha, he stops and explains. Kelly does a great job on tracing back how Christmas, Christmas traditions, and customs were formed. If you'd like a source, besides the internet, on how Christmas originated, I recommend this book.
This book includes several pictures, a bibliography, and index.
Very interesting history of Christmas in the early Church, through the years B.C. through about the 6th century. The author does a nice job of identifying the sources for our contemporary "version" of the nativity story -- including, for example, looking to apocryphal literature, which is likely a source for some of those details. The author clearly explains that the apocryphal writings aren't part of the canon, but they obviously existed and influenced traditions. Considering that this is supposed to be a history, I think it's perfectly appropriate to identify the likely sources of modern traditions -- even if the sources aren't part of the canon.This is a much more in-depth and apparently carefully researched text than any others I have found. I appreciate that it draws from scripture but also goes beyond scripture -- because, clearly, our modern traditions draw on more than scripture too (since, for example, scripture says NOTHING about the feast of the Nativity ... and yet we celebrate it every year). An educational and illuminating read! Exactly what I was looking for.
The author approached the biblical text from a theologically liberal perspective. For instance the author believes that Matthew and Luke write their accounts of the Christmas story to refute Mark's account. Much of the biblical information is not from the pen of the apostles but later Christians who are responding to their context. Thus the book gives some interesting history but lacks in any biblical foundation.
It is a great book on getting the background on when and how Christmas came about. I thought that it provided much good information. One thing I really liked was how it went into quite a bit of depth on the pre-Christian holidays that Christmas is based on.