Have you ever wondered about the origins of Christmas and the traditions celebrated in Western cultures? What about the myth of the jolly, old fellow who flies with incredible speed in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer? What about the story of St. Nicholas of Myra and his remarkable generosity? And, what about those fantastic events surrounding the Nativity? Are they trustworthy or just fanciful stories.
Unwrapping the First Christmas is a little book that helps readers answer these questions and many more. Written for Christians around the world, Unwrapping the First Christmas shares the origins of many Western traditions and myths like the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and Santa Claus that have found their way into popular culture and often distract people from the very first Christmas. After explaining the American fascination with Santa Claus and the origins of traditional Christmas, Dr. Cooper explains the case for the date of the very first Christmas as well as answers the questions about the heavenly host and star of Bethlehem. In the end, he shares four Advent devotionals that will inspire you and your family to learn about the true story of the birth of Jesus. To challenge your understanding of the Christmas story, he provides a fun test that families and friends can use around the Christmas tree to learn more about the most remarkable miracle in the history of humanity.
Acclaim for Unwrapping the First Christmas
Wow! This is a book we need to read if we want to dig deep into the historical and factual account of the first Christmas. I honestly thought I already had a good understanding of the Christmas narratives until I got to answer the questionnaires at the beginning of this book. The family devotional at the end is also very helpful. I would say this is a must-read book for every Christian. It’s easy to read that when I started reading, I didn’t stop until I finished.
I knew I needed to read this book after I failed the 10 multichoice questionnaire on the Christmas story facts that is at the beginning of the book! I have been an Anglican minister here in New Zealand for 30 years. Anglicans really know how to do Christmas with the season of Advent, lots of ‘nine lessons and carols’ services, midnight Christmas services, etc. Somehow I had never thought about the facts that surround the season of Christmas and the traditions that have somehow attached themselves to the celebration of Jesus’s birth. I think the wonder of this book is that it takes you back to what Christmas is really about – God becoming a man and living among us.
Seemingly every year many Christians wrestle with or casually accept the origins and traditions associated with Christmas. In this fine book Michael Cooper provides the reader with the relevant data and a concise discussion to sort through the issues. His analysis is both academically-informed and yet popularly accessible. Highly recommended.
This book is a must read for every Christian. Dr. Michael Cooper, unwraps beautifully the true meaning of celebrating Christmas. It gives the clear understanding of the festival called Christmas to the lay people and an in-depth study to the theologians. It uncovers the myths associated with the Christmas and leads us to the true meaning of first Christmas in Bethlehem.
Dr. Cooper makes a convincing argument for the reliability of Christ’s birth from a historical scientific perspective. I’m quite impressed.
If debunking beloved tradition, recounting accurate history, or examining the science of God’s appearing takes the breath out of your carol-singing lungs, you’ll forgive Dr. Cooper for grounding you, instead, in sound research, accurate history, and the kind of biblical integrity that just might result in people trusting Christ instead of dismissing Christmas and in our children growing up to believe, rather than walking away from the faith.
Table of Contents
- How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story?
- The Myth of the Santa Story
- The Story of Saint Nicholas
- The Pagan Origins of Traditional Christmas
- The Date of Jesus’s Birth
- The Nativity in Luke
- The Star of Bethlehem in Matthew
- A Christmas Devotional for the Family
Conclusion: A Baby Changes Everything
About the Author
Michael T. Cooper currently serves as an executive for a missions agency, training national leaders in evangelism, discipleship, leadership development, and church planting. He is the former president and CEO of an international NGO. In 2010, he founded a Business as Mission initiative that focused on helping alleviate spiritual and economic poverty in the developing world. For a decade he equipped undergraduate and graduate students at Trinity International University with skills to engage culture. He has thirty years of ministry and missions experience, ten years as a pioneer church planter in Romania after the fall of communism. He holds a MA in Missions from Columbia International University and a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Throughout his career, Michael has focused on creative ways to engage difficult-to- reach people with the gospel.
Listen to the Ephesiology Podcast Christmas Special
Have you ever wondered about the origins of Christmas and the traditions celebrated in Western cultures? Join our podcasters as the talk about the new book, Unwrapping the First Christmas, and begin to peel back the layers of traditions that have come to define the Western celebrations of Christmas.