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.

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Acclaim for Unwrapping the First Christmas

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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

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.

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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