The Nativity Story: A Novelization


Based on the major motion picture, The Nativity Story is the very human, very dramatic, and uniquely inspiring saga of a journey of faith. Best-selling author Angie Hunt, who most recently wrote Magdalene, a historical fiction novel of the story of Mary Magdalene that was tied to The Da Vinci Code movie, now focuses on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She has adapted the screenplay for The Nativity Story into a powerful, historical novel. Her moving novelization of this film tells the extraordinary tale of two common ...

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Based on the major motion picture, The Nativity Story is the very human, very dramatic, and uniquely inspiring saga of a journey of faith. Best-selling author Angie Hunt, who most recently wrote Magdalene, a historical fiction novel of the story of Mary Magdalene that was tied to The Da Vinci Code movie, now focuses on Mary, the mother of Jesus. She has adapted the screenplay for The Nativity Story into a powerful, historical novel. Her moving novelization of this film tells the extraordinary tale of two common people, Mary and Joseph, a miraculous pregnancy, an arduous journey, and the history-defining birth of Jesus. Brought to life with an unprecedented attention to detail and commitment to historical accuracy, Hunt tells how from humble beginnings, great things can come. Tyndale House Publishers

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's a difficult task to retell the biblical nativity story in a fresh way-after all, it has been novelized, brought to stage and screen, and is the stuff of endless children's Christmas pageants. Yet this companion novel to the New Line Cinema feature film (which will hit theaters December 1) should find a place on the bookshelf as a fresh and viable retelling. Hunt, the author of more than 70 books and working from Mike Rich's screenplay, refrains from oversanitizing the story, although Mary and Joseph are fairly one-dimensional (there aren't a lot of character flaws here). She depicts their gritty, hardscrabble existence as balanced by the love of family. As a thoughtful reader would expect, the census trip to Bethlehem is no picnic, but some readers may be surprised that the shepherds and wise men show up at the stable together, unlike in the gospel account. The good-natured joshing among the three wise men provides a lighter note to the chapters where Herod's cruelty is well portrayed. Hunt balances the necessary violence with a sensitivity that will expand her readership. Her rich prose and cultural details utilize the five senses to recreate the familiar story, which spans many points of view and includes a fine subplot about Elizabeth, Zechariah and John. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414314624
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 1,436,310
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Read an Excerpt

the nativity story

A Novelization

By Angela Hunt

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © MMVI

New Line Productions, Inc.

All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4143-1462-0

Chapter One

At the sound of voices, Mary pulled a square of linen over her hair, then
scooped up the other three pieces of cloth and sprinted across the furrowed
ground. All four girls had left their veils on a rock by the side of
the road, certain they would be reaping alone in their families' fields.
They had been left to themselves for most of the morning, but now the
sun stood high overhead, and the voices that had reached Mary's ear
belonged to men.

"Naomi!" she hissed, cupping her hand to her mouth. "Rebecca,
Aliyah! Someone comes!"

The other girls, who had been laughing and calling to one another
as they cut the tender heads of barley from the stalks, stopped and

"Who comes?" Naomi wanted to know.

"I'm not sure," Mary said, tossing a rectangular cloth to her, "but
they're men."

Rebecca and Aliyah left their rows and hastened to smooth their
veils over their tumbling tresses.

With her back to the road, Mary felt for the edges of her own
rough veil, then tucked a rebellious hank of hair behind her ear. No virtuous
young woman would dare be so immodest as to publicly approach
a man with her hair exposed, but each of the four friends had
only recently entered womanhood. The habits of freewheelingchildhood
clung to them like vines.

Rebecca smoothed her veil and wiped a trickle of perspiration
from her forehead. "How do I look?"

"You'll look better without seeds on your brow." Mary reached up
to wipe a speckling of barley from Rebecca's damp forehead, then nodded.
"You look fine."

"I only hope whoever it is deserves the trouble we're taking,"
Naomi groused, repositioning the leather strap of the bag on her shoulder.
"If it's Josiah and his friends ..."

Mary suppressed a smile as the girls moved toward the road.
Naomi always made a fuss when Josiah came into view, and Mary suspected
that Naomi complained far more than necessary. Surely it wasn't
natural to spend so much time thinking about a boy unless you liked
him more than a little.

Her thoughts scattered as a knot of young men crested the hill,
Josiah among them. Mary saw Naomi blush when he looked her way.

"Greetings," Rebecca called to the group. "Come you to the fields
to work or to play?"

"To work, of course." Josiah scowled in Naomi's direction. "As
long as you girls don't get in our way."

Naomi stepped forward, her eyes blazing above a demure smile. "I
do believe the four of us can work faster than the-" she paused to
count-"six of you."

Josiah's scowl deepened. "Tend to your family's plot, woman. Your
father sent me out here to keep an eye on you."

Naomi placed a hand on her hip as her lower lip edged forward in
a pout. "And what business have you with my father? I can't believe he
would speak to you, let alone permit you through our courtyard gate."

"He speaks to me often." Josiah left the other boys to step closer.
"And he groans and moans most piteously because he has a headstrong
daughter, one who will almost certainly never be married-"

"I will be married but certainly not to the likes of you!" Naomi's
words would have stung if not for the smile on her lips and the challenge
in her eyes.

Mary stood back, watching in amused wonder as Naomi took off
across the field, barley spilling from her bag with every step.

Not willing to be dismissed, Josiah took off after her, catching the
girl before they had run half the length of the field.

"I've seen her run faster," Rebecca whispered.

Mary laughed, and something stirred in her heart as Josiah
caught Naomi by the waist and pulled her down.

"Should we ... help her?" Aliyah asked, her voice small.

Mary kept her eye on the pair but shook her head. "They are only

Rebecca turned, a look of wonder in her dark eyes. "Do you think
he's really been talking to her father?"

Mary watched as Naomi and Josiah smiled at each other; then she
shifted her gaze to the older boys, most of whom had already waded
into their families' fields. "I think our fathers have begun to talk a lot
about the future. We have begun our monthly courses, so we are old
enough to make our fathers anxious about finding us husbands ... and
providing a dowry."

The three girls stood in silence under the cloud-heavy expanse of
sky. Then Rebecca whispered what Mary had been thinking: "Sometimes
I wish I could remain a child forever."


Excerpted from the nativity story
by Angela Hunt
Copyright © MMVI by New Line Productions, Inc..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

A Message from Screenwriter Mike RichWhy this story? Why tell this particular story, which is held with such reverence by millions of people, instead of looking for something closer in tone to my previous screenplays: Finding Forrester, The Rookie, or Radio? The answer might come as a surprise. You see, I've always found myself drawn to stories that share a common theme; the theme of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It was the driving theme in all of my previous writings and it's once again front and center in The Nativity Story. Granted, this story takes the whole "ordinary people/extraordinary thing" to a slightly higher level, but it's there nonetheless.The first time I was struck with the notion of writing The Nativity Story was in December 2004. December 13th, to be exact. That was the date Newsweek and Time arrived in the mailbox, and both magazines carried cover stories exploring the mysteries and so-called "secrets" of the Nativity. As anyone who has placed the tiny clay figures of Mary, Joseph, and the Infant Jesus on their fireplace mantel knows, the story is almost always told from a standpoint of "event" rather than character. This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened. Rarely is it told from the viewpoint of what the characters (of Mary, Joseph, King Herod, the Magi and shepherds) were no doubt feeling leading up to this momentous event. The figurines on the fireplace represent the end of the road (as it pertains to this specific chapter of biblical history), but we almost never take a close look at the road itself? After 11 months of extensive research -- talking with Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish theologians and historians -- I started writing the screenplay for The Nativity Story in late 2005. The figurines took a break from the fireplace for a year and assumed temporary residence near my Apple Powerbook. Screenplays -- at least the first drafts -- typically take 12 weeks or more to write, but The Nativity Story came together in only five weeks. Once finished, I sent the initial draft to Marty Bowen, one of the producers on the film (along with Wyck Godfrey, both of whom I've been friends with for several years), and we quickly agreed to see how much interest the project might attract among the Hollywood studios. Not only were we surprised to learn that there was interest, but we were stunned to learn that it was exceptionally strong interest. New Line Cinema -- the studio that became the stuff of legend with its Lord of the Rings trilogy -- not only wanted to develop the screenplay, but it wanted to do so in time for a December 2006 release. Bear in mind that the average time from completion of script to eventual release in theaters is roughly two years. With The Nativity Story, we were now looking at half that amount of time. It was January and we needed to have a finished product on 8,000 screens within ten months. May 2nd (the date we would need to begin filming) was looming on the calendar. The first order of business would be to find a director. Not only would this be the initial order of business, it would be among the most critical. And while I've always felt that I have a knack for writing strong characters regardless of their gender, I (as well as the producers) felt it was imperative to have a woman direct the film. Regardless of one's faith, we tend to view Mary in iconic terms, rarely exploring the reality that before we had Mary the icon, there was Mary the woman and -- even before that -- Mary the young woman. A woman's perspective on the story would be vital. Enter Catherine Hardwicke. Catherine is widely viewed (and it's a distinction she's earned) as a talented director who brings out the best in her actors, especially young actresses. When writing the screenplay, it was my intent to make sure we didn't present Mary as a woman in her late 20s, as she so often is portrayed, but rather for what historians agree she actually was: a young woman who was probably no older than 15. While I was finishing -- in short order -- the second and third and fourth drafts (etc., etc.) of the screenplay, it was Catherine who came up with the astute suggestion of considering Keisha Castle-Hughes for the role of Mary. Keisha, so impressive in The Whale Rider, holds the distinction of being the youngest woman ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Now, just three years after that performance, she was brought onboard to bear the mantle of Mary. There was strong consensus among the filmmakers to make certain the makeup of the cast had a definite international feel to it. The last thing we wanted was a team from just one country telling a story that reaches to every corner of the world. But with the calendar about ready to flip to March, we needed to quickly come up with a plan that would give us the cast the story demanded. Within weeks, not months. So instead of working with casting companies in only one city, The Nativity Story auditioned hundreds of actors in multiple locations. Los Angeles. New York. London. Rome. Israel. Paris. Each morning, during my infrequent writing breaks, I'd sit in front of the computer (the figurines of Mary and Joseph nearby) and watch the auditions online. It was during one of those audition sessions that we came across a true moment of providence: the discovery of Oscar Isaac. Months of research had, unfortunately, told me little about the character of Joseph. Talk to a dozen theologians about Joseph, and you'll likely get a dozen different stories. But while there is precious little source material about the man who would help raise Jesus, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke leave intriguing clues. Matthew describes Joseph as a "righteous" man; a man who, when confronted with the pregnancy of Mary (who was betrothed to him), refused to publicly accuse her of adultery; an accusation that could have resulted in her death. The biblical accounts also offer passages that are frequently quite literal in nature. Take, for example, the sentence that says Joseph took Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It's a simple sentence in tone, agreed, but a look at a map tells us that the journey between those two villages is more than 100 miles. Would a righteous man walk every step of that journey to help care for his pregnant wife? Without question. And so, what risked starting out as a rather one-dimensional character took on a new level of depth and courage. And those qualities were taken to even greater heights with the discovery of the aforementioned Oscar Isaac. A young actor working in New York, Oscar brought an enormous level of gravity and intensity to the project. As a writer, one can only hope to see the words you've put down on paper elevated through the talents of quality actors. Oscar quickly became the perfect Joseph, at the same time that Keisha was becoming the quintessential Mary. The Nativity Story would be filmed in two locations: the tiny ancient town of Matera, Italy (where much of Passion of the Christ was filmed), and the open deserts of Morocco. While the production design team had the task of building an exact replica of long-ago Nazareth (in only three weeks), Catherine and I were putting the script into the hands of as many biblical scholars as we could find, asking for help in making the story as accurate and genuine as possible.May 2nd arrived and, just like that, the words of my screenplay had become actual dialogue. The descriptions of Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem had become actual locations, complete with hundreds of actors, costumes and animals. It is a visual treat and a privilege -- seeing the transition of words to cinema -- that never fails to take my breath away.I'm often asked if I was nervous writing this story; this enormous story that so many describe as "the greatest story ever told." Sure I was. If you're not nervous telling this particular chapter of the Bible, you're probably the wrong writer. But never have I had a writing experience that compared to The Nativity Story. I lost my father early last year, and the emotion of his loss grew as we neared the Christmas season, because the holiday (along with the feeling of peace and family) meant so very much to him. Writing this screenplay kept me in a good place -- in the best place -- as the holiday approached.It's difficult to put into words what this year's Christmas season will mean for my family and me. But it's my sincerest hope The Nativity Story offers you the same opportunity to reflect on the things most important to you during this most joyous time of year.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    A reviewer

    This book is amazing! You have to read it and see the movie! I am so proud of it! This is somehting for the whole family around christmas!

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    O Come O Come Emmanuel

    I read the book before watching the movie so I went to the film knowing a lot of what was going to happen. If I thought the movie made the familiar characters more human and real, the book does even more so. The book adds to the movie script and includes more scenes that help to develop the characters. Mary is seen as caught between childhood and becoming a married women. We feel her struggle as she has to leave her old life behind. The reader is taken to understand what she went through after the angel told her what was going to happen to her. Since in the Bible, we don't hear a lot about Joseph what is written here shows him as an understanding and devout man. He loves Mary and wants to take care of her and the baby even though it will not be his completely. I enjoyed the research that went on towards the writing of this book. It's full of historical detail and knowledge. You get a feel of the time, from Mary and Joseph's perspective, from Herod's, and the Wise Men. I know there is much debate about when the Wise Men showed up or even how many there are. I just find it amazing that any persons would come, near or far, to see a baby being born. Imagine how the shepherds felt when they saw Jesus, their Messiah had finally come. I also liked the prologue, which showed a modern view on the Nativity which is what most people believe in and have become immune to. The Christmas season should be remembered in the way Hunt portrays the first Christmas. Very simple, with lots of faith and belief. The book shows that these were real people who were struggling to understand why they were chosen, yet they believed without a doubt. We today should follow in their footsteps. Another powerful read from one of my favorite authors.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    greatest story ever told

    This is the novelization based on Mike Rich's screenplay for the upcoming Nativity Story film. Angela Hunt for the most part tells THE NATIVITY STORY as most readers know it (no sense repeating the obvious). However, surprisingly, she makes her rendition fresh especially humanizing the Three Wise Men by intelligently yet humorously having them tease each other (sort of like locker room bantering) as a needed counterpoint to the cruel excesses of King Herod. Ancient Judea is vividly portrayed so much so that readers will feel they journeyed along side the travelers until they reach the stable while also avoiding Herod. This is a great rendition of the ¿greatest story ever told¿ that fans of Christian literature will fully appreciate as the holiday season is upon us. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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