Christian Non-Fiction

The First Days of Jesus | Book Review

FirstDaysReviewThe First Days of Jesus: the Story of the Incarnation

by Andreas J. Köstenberger &  Alexander Stewart 

Softcover | Crossway | September 30, 2015 | 272 pages

About the Book

The birth of Jesus stands as a pivotal moment in the history of the world, marking a dramatic turning point in God’s plan to redeem creation from sin and death. Much to the world’s surprise, redemption had arrived . . . in the form of a lowly baby.

Aimed at stirring your affections for Jesus, this meditative book will lead you on a step-by-step journey through the Gospels’ birth narratives, clearing away common misconceptions, making messianic connections, and setting the stage for Jesus’s later life and ministry.

Why this book…

All I want for Christmas this year is Jesus. Please, don’t mistake me for the Grinch or view this as an attempt on my part to appear hyper-spiritual, because this is the sincere longing of my heart. I want to encounter the Christ of Christmas afresh.

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Like many American families, our year has been hectic. Between my husband’s work schedule and my daughter’s recent illness, we have ceased our family devotionals, neglected our Advent traditions (the calendar and Jesse Tree), and our poor Christmas tree stand remains treeless. However, for the sake of the children and those who will be celebrating Christmas with us this year, we will “deck the halls” in the next 9 days. Because it wouldn’t be Christmas without those things – right?

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About the Book

What I loved about The First Days of Jesus is how Andreas J. Köstenberger &  Alexander Stewart have redrawn the lines between cultural Christmas and biblical Christmas. Their book caused me to slow down and read more deeply into John’s prologue and the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke’s gospels. Köstenberger and Stewart, as New Testament  scholars, drew my attention to subtleties in these narratives and explained the different ways in which the original language could be interpreted. Furthermore, by placing the narratives within their historical context they were able to separate true Christmas from tradition and culture – providing the fresh encounter with the Christ of Christmas I have been seeking.

First and foremost, this is a book of theology which examines scripture in minute detail. It explores the genealogies of Christ, origins of the magoi, historicity of scripture, immaculate conception, prophecy fulfillment, the incarnation, and God’s overall redemptive plan. While some of the material was familiar, much of it was new to me and very compelling to read. In fact, I’ve read it twice—flagging pages and underlined key points along the way.

It would be impossible to deny the devotional aspect of the text. I had a lot of “ah-ha” moments where either my preconceived notions were shattered or fascinating connections were made. Many times,  I was compelled to stop reading and thank God in the moment for the new revelation. I may never grasp the full extent of God’s love, but this book made it feel a little wider, longer, higher and deeper. The First Days of Jesus is a worship inspiring book!

In addition to recommending The First Days of Jesus to my church librarian, I plan to share it with our Women’s Ministry, because I feel it would be a wonderful selection for small group book study. Seeker or skeptic, pastor or pew sitter, student or teacher… this book is for you.

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by biblicalfoundations.org. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Click here to see the The First Days of Jesus Advent Reading Plan.

About the Authors

Andreas J. Köstenberger (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is a prolific author, distinguished evangelical scholar, and editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dr. Köstenberger and his wife have four children.

Alexander Stewart (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is academic dean and assistant professor of New Testament language and literature at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands.

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On my #2016TBR…

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