In his previous book The Origins of Christmas, Joseph F. Kelly answers common questions about the development of Christmas rituals and legends, and explores the history of the holiday. In this book Kelly turns to the infancy narratives to see what the New Testament tells us about the Nativity. Readers will likely discover that their Christmas celebrations, cards, pageants, and crèches are often combinations and embellishments of the gospel narratives. Yet each of these narratives is quite distinct, reflecting the author’s talents and audience. In this practical book readers will:
- Encounter the stories in their gospel contexts and learn about the issues facing the early Christians as the gospels were being written.
- See the difference between the educator Matthew’s approach for an audience of Jewish converts and the great literary artist Luke writing for a primarily Gentile audience.
- Look beyond the literal level of the stories to what it means that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us, who came to live in the family of a carpenter and his wife Mary.
- Recognize the infancy narratives as an invitation to meet Jesus Christ, king and savior, arrived to fulfill God’s plan on earth for all people.
Joseph F. Kelly, PhD, is professor of religious studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is author of The Origins of Christmas, An Introduction to the New Testament for Catholics, The Collegeville Church History Timeline, and The Ecumenical Councils (forthcoming), all published by Liturgical Press.