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
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.
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