Unwrapping the First Christmas

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.

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Unwrapping the First Christmas 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.

With more than 50 percent of American evangelicals believing that Jesus is the greatest being God created, Unwrapping the First Christmas is a must read for those who still believe Jesus is God incarnate.

Table of Contents


  1. How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story?
  2. The Myth of the Santa Story
  3. The Story of Saint Nicholas
  4. The Pagan Origins of Traditional Christmas
  5. The Date of Jesus’s Birth
  6. The Nativity in Luke
  7. The Star of Bethlehem in Matthew
  8. A Christmas Devotional for the Family

Conclusion: A Baby Changes Everything
Reference List

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Acclaim for Unwrapping the First Christmas

“Dr. Cooper has mixed real life and family—minded encouragement with thorough historical and scientific research in order to bring a rich and transformational turn on the implications of the incarnation. For the faithful and the skeptic, for the scholar and the parent, here is miracle and reality as our Father surely intended.”

Dr. Neal F. Brower, Western District Superintendent, Evangelical Free Church of America

“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 Christmas and leads us to the true meaning of the first Christmas in Bethlehem.”

Pastor Vinod Abraham, Founder and President, SEWA, Punjab, India

“I knew I needed to read this book after I failed the 10 multi—choice 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.”

Rev. Gradon Harvey, National Director for North-South, Anglican Minister, New Zealand

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Explore the First Christmas and Grow in Your Faith

Ephesiology Master Classes offer two great Christmas ideas to encourage you to learn more about your faith. Check out these video resources. E-books included!

About the Author

Dr. Michael T. Cooper earned a PhD in Intercultural Studies with a focus on religious movements and a minor in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He currently serves as a missiologist for a missions agency where he focuses on missiological research and equipping missionaries for effective cultural engagement. He has thirty years of missions experience, including ten years as a pioneer church planter in Romania after the fall of communism and has equipped church planters and leaders in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. He has written and contributed to more than 30 books and academic articles and has presented conference lectures at the London School of Economics, University of Bordeaux, Loyola University, Baylor University, and many others. His recent book, Ephesiology: The Study of the Ephesian Movement is a best seller at William Carey Publishing.

Use Unwrapping the First Christmas as an evangelicistic tool

Unwrapping the First Christmas was written to use as a tool to effectively engage the post-modern skeptic living in the West, the Hindu adherent of Jyotisha, even the communist atheist Chinese who look to the zodiac for direction in their lives. It also tells the story of how one American family addressed the question of Santa with their kids so it will even appeal to parents of young children. Millennials and Generation Zers will enjoy how the book peels back the layers of Western culture that have piled onto Christianity to get to the true meaning of the first Christmas.

Learn More

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.

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