In Christmas the Original Story Margaret Barker explores the nature of the Christmas stories and the nature and use of Old Testament prophecy. Beginning with John';s account, it then goes on to include Luke and Matthew, the apocryphal gospels, and the traditions of the Coptic Church, to throw light upon wise men and their gifts, the character of Herod, Matthew';s use of prophecy, the holy family in Egypt. This book also discusses the stories we get from the Infancy Gospel of Jesus and the development of the Orthodox Christmas icon, as well as the Christmas story and the Mary material in the Koran.
According to Margaret Barker';s groundbreaking theory, temple mysticism underpins much of the Bible. Rooted in the cult of the first temple in ancient Judaism, it helps us to understand the origins of Christianity. Temple mysticism was received and taught as oral tradition, and many texts were changed or suppressed or kept from public access. Barker first examines biblical texts: Isaiah, the prophet whom Jesus quoted more than any other in Scripture, and John. Then she proposes a more detailed picture, drawing on a wide variety of non-biblical texts. The resulting book presents some remarkable results.
The book starts with background chapters on the Jews, Moses, the King in the Old Testament, and moves on to the King in the New Testament (apart from John) before reaching its main focus on the Gospel of John. 'Those at Qumran who worshipped as/with the angels in heaven cannot have been very different from those who wrote and read John's gospel and the Book of Revelation. The latter were the Hebrew-Christian community who saw themselves as the heavenly throng . . . Their Lamb on the throne opened a sealed book - secret teaching - and they were originally people chosen from all the twelve tribes of Israel to receive the Name of the Lord on their foreheads (Rev.7.3-4). This vision was set in the early days of the first temple, before the kingdom divided, and it had become the hope for the future.' from the Introduction.