The Origins of Christmas / Edition 1

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When was Christmas first celebrated? How did December 25 become its date? How did the Bible's "magi from the East" become three kings named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar who rode camels from three different continents to venerate the newborn Christ? Why did medieval and Renaissance artists so frequently portray Joseph as an old man? When did the first Christmas music appear? Who was the real St. Nicholas, and how did he become the most famous of all Christian saints? Professor Kelly ably answers such questions in this concise and readable account on the origins of Christmas.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Scholar Kelly (Responding to Evil) here examines the story of the evolving celebration of Christmas, an account of creative imagination, accommodation, and necessity. He begins with a discussion of biblical and apocryphal accounts and of theological motifs that by the fourth century resulted in a "mass" and a growing tradition that in the 11th century came to be celebrated as Christ's Mass, Christmas. Early bishops had viewed "advent" as "the coming" (Christ's coming to be baptized), but a redefined "advent" centered on the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, an entire liturgical season was developed to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Art and music contributed, and over time the door opened for the tales of Magi and St. Nicholas the miracle worker-even for relics that included straw from the crib! Although the book seems intended for a general audience, it is not organized in a fashion that would hold the attention of a casual reader. Because of its extensive details, it will appeal more to scholarly readers. Recommended with reservations to larger libraries.-George Westerlund, Palmyra, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“This brief well-researched book is recommended not only for academic readers but also appeals to the general public.”
Theological Studies

“The diverse origins of Christmas will come as a fascinating surprise to most who know only the Sunday school version of the Christmas from their childhoods. . . . Very highly recommended and informative reading.”
Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814629840
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 983,874
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph F. Kelly, PhD, chair of the department of theology and religious studies at John Carroll University, is active in adult religious education in the Greater Cleveland area. The World of the Early Christians (1997), The Problem of Evil in the Western Tradition (2002), and History and Heresy (2012) are among his nine previous books published by Liturgical Press.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction xi
Chapter 1 The Birth of Jesus 1
Chapter 2 Creating the Christmas Story 31
Chapter 3 Creating Christmas Day and the Christmas Season 53
Chapter 4 Jesus, Mary, the Magi, and an Obscure Asian Bishop 79
Chapter 5 The Popular Acceptance of Christmas 111
Epilogue 129
Appendix The Gospel Infancy Narratives 131
Further Reading 143
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    Book takes revisionist/modernist view

    I am only commenting on the first few chapters of The Origins of Christmas, as I cannot continue reading the book. From page one, the book has a revisionist slant. The book insinuates, sometimes asserts, that the Gospel of Luke was purposely written to fit Old Testament parallels, that the Gospel of Matthew was not written by the apostle Matthew, and that the Magi and star were invented for the Nativity story. All of these points are contrary to tradition. This work takes the minority and often radical view among theologians. If you are looking to deepen your faith as a Christian, I would not recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

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