The First Christmas

A Story of New Beginnings

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Pub Date 02 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 26 Oct 2021
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Essentials


“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about God, reality, truth.” –Anne Lamott

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.

“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and...

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ISBN 9781250790699
PRICE CA$29.99 (CAD)

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Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

The First Christmas was an absolute gift. It was stunning and delightful; full of tender, rich, funny moments and characters. The plot was completely captivating and engaging to the very end. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

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I always enjoy hearing the Christmas Story, but I was not sure what to expect from a novel form of the story. The chapters were from the view points of different characters, including the ox and donkey, telling their part in this wonderful story. There were interludes between chapters that while were informative. I felt took away from the feel of reading a novel. But overall I enjoyed reading this author's vision of the Nativity scene and the birth of Jesus. Thanks to the author Stephen Mitchell, publisher St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book for a honest review.

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An enchanting view of the miracle of the First Christmas as seen and told through the eyes of an ox, donkey, shepherds, innkeeper and wise men. Each perspective is described in Mitchell’s touching prose and the voices of each character come to life as their story unfolds. This interpretation is as bright and colorful as Christmas lights and holiday packages. Each twinkle and opened box reveals wonder and a smile. This is simply a must read for any season. My thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Essentials and Stephen Mitchell for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review.

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A great Christmas story book to read. Found it really fascinating and exciting read. I received this advance copy of the book in exchanged for my honest opinion.

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Speechless. That's how I felt when I was done reading The First Christmas. So well done, powerfully written. Obviously it has the religious aspect to it, but as a stand alone story even without that background, it is such a gorgeously done piece of art. Honestly. this book made the Holy family even more accessible than I found the story growing up. In turn, feeling that Mary Joseph and Baby Jesus were more accessible gave me a new perspective on the "accept what we are telling you without questions" attitude about religion.. The First Christmas made it a real story. Looking forward to celebrating Christmas this coming season is even more exciting because I will be giving thanks for their courage and faith Mary and Joseph had in God and in each other.

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This is a neat story retold -about the miracle of Christmas night! It is a beautifully done and alternates between different characters that were present on this holy journey. My favorite is the donkey. He had an important job and did it well! I am sure this will be a classic! Give it a read!

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