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by Frank Straight, Xlibris Publishers, © 2010,
95 pages, $15.99 (paperback), ISBN-13: 978-1-4415-9076-3

Picture of BookChristmas can be a very frustrating time for preachers and church leaders. Not only is there the constant battle with materialism and commercialization, but even those who want “the true meaning of Christmas” are frequently caught up in creative, heart-tugging stories that sometimes are so rooted in fantasy that they can actually be a detriment to faith. Those of you who have followed this ministry for the 45 years of its existence will recall that many of my debates with atheists have been based on their statement that they do not believe in God for the same reason they do not believe in Santa Claus.

Here is a book that gets to the heart of the true Christmas story. Frank Straight has developed a classroom study which gets into the real meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was a Jew living in a Jewish culture, and Matthew was a Jew writing for a Jewish audience. In order to get the real meaning of Jesus' birth you have to come into the subject with an understanding of the Jewish Scriptures — the Old Testament. Straight fits the birth of Jesus described by Matthew into the context of the Old Testament Jewish faith.

All eight chapters of Straight's book are based on Matthew chapters 1 and 2. The book deals with the genealogy of Christ and the history of his ancestors. Other issues covered are: Mary's pregnancy outside of marriage; what the “star” was; who the Magi were; how Herod figured into the picture; and why Nazareth was an issue in Jesus' life and ministry.

The chapters are short and easy to read. Each chapter is followed by a series of questions. There is an appendix with the answers to the questions. This is an in-depth Bible study that would be great for a class or a home devotional study. This is not an apologetic work, but we recommend it as a very worthwhile study as we approach the Christmas season.