From Publishers Weekly
Despite the cover's gold-stamped Old English script and stylized medieval Nativity scene, this book does not belong in a display of inspirational Christmas gifts for great-aunts, unless the aunties are willing to consider that Matthew and Luke often contradict each other; that Jesus was probably born in the spring; that virgin may simply have meant prepubescent; that the census that supposedly brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem never happened (and anyway, Jesus was more likely born in Nazareth); or that virgin births and guiding stars were quite common in classical literature of the time. As Vermes notes, the truth ...belongs only very slightly to history and mostly derives from man's hopeful and creative religious imagination. Vermes, perhaps the world's foremost authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls, writes as a scholar, not as an iconoclast. Dismayed that Christmas has become the climax of a season of overspending, overeating and uncontrolled merrymaking, he wants to set the record straight. Some readers, however-even those who value understanding the first-century historical and literary context-may not be satisfied with his conclusion that the ultimate purpose of the Infancy Gospels seems to be the creation of a prologue, enveloping the newborn Jesus with an aura of marvel and enigma. (Nov. 6)
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Praise for Geza Vermes and The Nativity
“The greatest Jesus scholar of his generation.” —Sunday Telegraph
“Vermes sets about painstaking literary and historical analysis with refreshing humor and enthusiasm and argues his case with clarity and skill as he uncovers how the events of the nativity were constructed by evangelists to fulfill Old Testament prophecies and Jewish traditions.” —The Guardian