What does the Bible really say about the birth of Jesus? How did the celebration of Christmas become associated with things like Santa Claus and decorated trees? In The True Meaning of Christmas: The Birth of Jesus and the Origins of the Season, biblical scholar Michael Patrick Barber offers an inspiring look at the Bible’s accounts of Jesus’ birth and the development of the Christmas season.

Along the way, he answers numerous questions, including:

  • How is the Christmas story related to ancient Jewish expectations? 
  • Why is Jesus said to be laid in a “manger”? 
  • Who are the Magi? 
  • What is the mysterious Christmas star? 
  • How did December 25th become the date of Christmas? 
  • How did Saint Nicholas become “Santa Claus”?

As Dr. Barber will show, to find our way “home” at Christmas, we need to first return to Christmas’s home in the story of the Bible. Only by carefully reflecting on the stories of Jesus’ birth can we hope to celebrate Christmas in the way it is meant to be celebrated and discover the real joy it promises!


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Praise for The True Meaning of Christmas:

"In his brilliant and fascinating new book, Michael Barber uses the Bible, Jewish tradition, archaeology, and ancient history to shed fresh light on the true meaning and mystery of Christmas. If you’re looking for a wonderful Christmas gift for your loved ones (or yourself!), then look no further."
Brant Pitre, Distinguished Research Professor of Sacred Scripture, Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology, Author of Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

"I love this book! It is a joy to read, packed as full as a Christmas stocking with solid facts and helpful insights on the Bible, the early Church Fathers, and why we celebrate the season the way we do today."
Leslie Baynes, Associate Professor of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism, Missouri State University 

"With dexterity and clarity, Dr. Barber uses serious biblical scholarship to tie together the Old Testament and the New, Christmas carols and the Church’s tradition, to illuminate the true meaning of Christmas."
Matthew Monnig, S.J., Assistant Professor of New Testament, Boston College

"As a self-described lover of and expert on Christmas, I thought that Dr. Barber's book would be a helpful review of all of the elements of the season that I am so fond of. I did not anticipate learning so much about Christmas...and I definitely did not imagine that my heart would be set on fire like it was by what I read in this book. Not only was my intellect and imagination formed by the content of Dr. Barber's book, but my love and longing for Jesus Christ was enkindled by his words. This is not merely my new favorite book by Michael Barber, it is my new favorite book on Christmas."
Fr. Mike Schmitz, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and Chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth

"If you’ve ever wondered anything about Christmas, you’ll find complete and compelling answers here!"
Kendra Tierney, Author of O Come, Emmanuel: Advent Reflections on the Jesse Tree for Families


Michael Barber

Reviews (3)

  • *Will absolutely love this book!

    Donna Paolucci Jan 13th 2024

    *Wonderful, Blessed book!

    Donna Paolucci Jan 13th 2024

  • Excellent Book to enrich the Christmas Season

    Kathleen Ryan Herald Dec 29th 2021

    I have read many theology books over the years ie Cradle of Redeeming Love: The Theology of the Christmas Mystery and Father Brown’s book on the Christmas gospel narratives; however Dr Barber's book is the best. He presents the essence of the Christmas in an thoughtful but entertaining way and answers the important questions. I loved it and learned so much. It already has enriched my Advent. I gave it as gifts to my friends and family. ..Kathleen Herald

    Kathleen Ryan Herald Dec 29th 2021

  • Excelente!

    Dora Alfaro Dec 14th 2021

    Gracias por escribir este bello libro, aprendí mucho, la lectura fue muy amena y fácil. Recién escuché la explicación de un sacerdote acerca de la fecha de nacimiento de nuestro Señor y todo lo que él comentó ya lo sabía y con mayores detalles gracias a este libro. Dios lo bendiga. Podría escribir algo sobre Adviento? Muchas gracias.

    Dora Alfaro Dec 14th 2021

The True Meaning of Christmas: The Birth of Jesus and the Origins of the Season

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