Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The First Christmas: A Story of New Beginnings by Stephen Mitchell


In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.

In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 BCE might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.

Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.




About The Author

 Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn in 1943, educated at Amherst, the Sorbonne, and Yale, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, The Second Book of the Tao, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Way of Forgiveness, and the forthcoming The First Christmas. He is also the coauthor of three of his wife Byron Katie’s bestselling books: Loving What Is, A Thousand Names for Joy, and A Mind at Home with Itself. You can read extensive excerpts from all his books on his website, stephenmitchellbooks.com.


My Review

This is the story of the Nativity, and how exactly things played, or might have played out. Using the Gospels of Mathew and Luke, the author brings this story alive.
Beginning with the animals at the stable and continuing with how Mary’s life as a young girl was changed forever. Then Joseph and his thoughts and how God had them become parents of his beloved Son.
While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the way some of the character’s were portrayed, it was a work of fiction and from the author’s perspective.
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher St. Martin’s Press, and was not required to give a positive review. 

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