“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all, the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about God, reality, truth.” –Anne Lamott
In The First Christmas, Stephen Mitchell brings the Nativity story to vivid life as never before. A narrative that is only sketched out in two Gospels becomes fully realized here with nuanced characters and a setting that reflects the culture of the time. Mitchell has suffused the birth of Jesus with a sense of beauty that will delight and astonish readers.
In this version, we see the world through the eyes of a Whitmanesque ox and a visionary donkey, starry-eyed shepherds and Zen-like wise men, each of them providing a unique perspective on a scene that is, in Western culture, the central symbol for good tidings of great joy. Rather than superimposing later Christian concepts onto the Annunciation and Nativity scenes, he imagines Mary and Joseph experiencing the angelic message as a young Jewish woman and man living in the year 4 bce might have experienced it, with terror, dismay, and ultimate acceptance. In this context, their yes becomes an act of great moral courage.
Readers of every background will be enchanted by this startlingly beautiful reimagining of the Christmas tale.
Praise for The First Christmas: A Novel
“I love The First Christmas. What a charming way Stephen Mitchell has found to tell my favorite story of all,
the Nativity, character by character (I love the donkey and the ox), with wise and thrilling interludes about
God, reality, truth.” –Anne Lamott
“The First Christmas is a wonderful book, tender and rich with bursts of humor, filled with curious contrivances and surprises. Reading it felt like opening a brightly-wrapped Christmas present and finding a second box (also brightly wrapped) inside, and inside that box a third, and then another, and another, and another. Until, at the very center, in a tiny box, there is a diamond: the wisdom contained within this telling.” –Elizabeth Gilbert
“Stephen Mitchell’s The First Christmas is a wholly original and deeply inspired book. I’m swept away by his language: simple and concrete, fetching. Mitchell grants us access here to the kingdom of heaven that lies within us, folded in a simple story.” – Jay Parini, author of Jesus: The Human Face of God