Thursday, December 6, 2007

Great Book for Advent

My MIL has recently begun sending all of her children books to fit the season. Last Lent we received The Day Christ Died, and this Advent we received The Day Christ was Born. These books are accounts of these different times in Christ's life. They go through each hour, and you also receive a little bit of background. I haven't started The Day Christ Was Born yet, but I have read The Day Christ Died, and it is fantastic. The author, Jim Bishop, does a great job of bringing the events to you and explaining some of the Jewish customs, so we can better understand them. From the back cover:

Experience with a new vividness the awe and wonder of the events leading up to the birth of Christ: the journey to Bethlehem; the first Christmas night; the visits of the shepherds and Magi; the flight into Egypt and the quiet, joyous return. With a master journalist's skill Jim Bishop offers a gripping, biblically accurate, ever-unfolding narrative that is brimming with rich, dramatic detail. As was Bishop's previous book on Good Friday, The Day Christ Died, this book is a reverential reconstruction of the people, places, institutions, and events associated with a day in Jesus's life on earth.

Jim Bishop also writes an introduction to the book called For the Record.

Nothing is known of the birth of Christ beyond the New Testament. It is a great and joyful story, the happiest event since the dawn of history. It needs no gilding. Still, there is a natural curiosity in the heart of the journalist to know more. He would like to fill in the blank spaces of any great event.

This one happened two thousand years ago. The town and the terrain of Bethlehem have not changed. The road down the Jordan Valley from Nazareth is a little smoother now, but it twists beside the same bank of the same river. The walls of Jerusalem have been moved in a little, especially on the south side, but the view of the Mount of Olives is the same, and Gethsemani still reposes at the base of the mountain.

The marriage customs of the Jews of two thousand years ago are recorded. The manner of courtship, to which Joseph and Mary surely subscribed, is also known. The cave where animals were sheltered beneath the inn at Bethlehem is still there. The facts about the Magi, as a class of philosophic astrologers, are available to those who seek them. In addition, there are ageless works written by scholars about the birth of Jesus.

I have availed myself of these things. The result is within these pages. Although the facts are as I present them, the book must be called a recreation because it contains dialogue and minor scenes which are not to be found within the historical framework of the New Testament. These are my imaginings.

If you are not already reading something to prepare yourself for Christ's birth, I highly recommend this book. If you read it, let me know what you think!

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