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Christmas: Myth, Magic and Legend: Making Sense of the Christmas Stories

A woman, both virgin and mother, a star moving at walking pace relative to the earth, turning, then moving in the contrary direction to all other astronomical objects before stopping over a particular town, a census called by an empire in such fashion that it would throw its normal efficiency into chaos, multitudes of angels declaring a saviour’s birth to shepherds with their flocks in the fields during the dead of winter, a pogrom carried out by a tyrannical leader to rid himself of a peasant child perceived as threat. Does any of this make sense to us in a modern world? Are these things believable as literal historical events? If not, do they still have meaning? In Christmas: Myth, Magic and Legend, John Queripel digs in and behind the stories to find their essential truth while disregarding the literalisms which get in the way of most people’s search. Deep and profound truths behind the stories come to life and a whole new and more transformative meaning begins to reveal itself.

John Queripel has done it again. As concerned as he is about our unthinking absorption of a shopping-mall Christmas mentality, in this timely book he calls us to go back to the original stories about the birth of Jesus and consider them more maturely. While for him the two Gospel narratives about the first Christmas present historical problems, they still get us thinking about absolutely crucial human questions and carry an uncanny power of Myth – in the positive sense, and not as false. I recommend John Queripel’s work because it is provocative, gets us on our toes and sharpens our critical acumen, but more to disturb our shallow comfortableness than to dishonour the magic and marvel of the Biblical message. – Garry Trompf, Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney

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