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Geraldine McCaughrean keeps close to the Bible, making this a version of the nativity which will ensure the family know the important parts of the story which are celebrated in some of the most familiar carols. Short of sleep, all the inn keeper wants is some peace and quiet so that he can close his eyes and rest. His prosaic approach makes an entertainingly human contrast to the miraculous birth that is taking place in his stable. As the range of titles shows, the nativity story is very flexible in the number of ways in which it can be told and in the size and variety of its cast of characters.

Roles in the nativity play from the starring ones of Mary, Joseph and the Innkeeper to the lesser ones of shepherd, sheep or even spider can all be embraced. The Nativity Play by Nick Butterworth and Mick Inkpen humorously captures the creativity that is the essence of every performance of the nativity and the vital role all those involved play in making it a success. This selection of nativity picture books can be given a rich background and a wider context by an anthology of stories to read aloud. Of particular relevance this year is the famous story of the football match that took place in the trenches in the first world war.

Funny, poignant and even ghostly these will bring a different kind of awe and wonder to story of the nativity. Topics Children's books The book doctor. Children and teenagers Christmas Children's books: 7 and under Children's books: years Picture books Christianity. But there are some principles we hold in common: the value of reading biblical texts in their original historical settings, the need for careful analysis of the literary dimensions of each text, and respect for what seems to have been the intentions of the original author.

Applying these principles to the two Christmas stories in the New Testament will reveal more clearly their historical significance, distinctive literary character, and theological riches. He was a Jewish Christian writing primarily for other Jewish Christians.

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He wanted to show that the legacy of biblical Israel was best fulfilled in the community formed around the memory of Jesus of Nazareth. This setting helps to explain why Matthew told his Christmas story as he did.


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He begins with a genealogy that relates Jesus to Abraham and David, while including several women of dubious reputation who nonetheless highlight the new thing God was doing in Jesus. Guided by dreams like his biblical namesake, he is the divinely designated protector of Mary and her child Jesus.

The Magi story in Matthew 2 is part of a larger sequence that involves danger for the newborn child and his parents. As a result the family flees to Egypt, while Herod orders the execution of all boys under two years old in the area of Bethlehem. At each point in their itinerary, the family is guided by dreams and texts from the Jewish Scriptures.

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Thus he establishes the Jewish identity of Jesus, while foreshadowing the mystery of the cross and the inclusion of non-Jews in the church. The tone is serious, somber, and foreboding.


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Also there are many characters besides Jesus: Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Mary, and Simeon and Anna, as well as various angels and shepherds. These figures represent the best in Jewish piety.

12 Multicultural Children’s Books about the Nativity Story

Thus Luke creates an ideal picture of the Israel into which Jesus is born. In the gross structure of his infancy narrative, Luke seems intent on comparing John the Baptist and Jesus. His point is that while John is great, Jesus is even greater. Luke portrays Jesus and his family as observant with regard to Jewish laws and customs.

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The narratives are punctuated by triumphant songs of joy. They are well known by their traditional Latin titles: Magnificat , Benedictus , and Nunc dimittis I have shown one way to read the Christmas stories of Matthew and Luke.

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It is a way that respects their historical contexts, literary skills, and intentions. It is not the only way. Indeed, during this Christmas season I will be celebrating God willing the traditional Christmas story in the two parishes in which I serve regularly as a Catholic priest.


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  4. What I hope to have shown here is that there is more to the biblical Christmas stories than gets included in the traditional account. Daniel J. Harrington , S. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities.

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    We will only use your personal information to register you for OUPblog articles. Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS. As the Rev. They appear in Matthew: 1—2 and […]. Interesting article!