Now living in Nanaimo, Peter Horsfield is a former Anglican minister who collaborated with his daughter, Margaret Horsfield, a BBC journalist and part-time resident of Protection Island, to popularize all the research that has been done about the origins of the stories pertaining to the birth of Jesus. Their Beyond Bethlehem was inspired by a Christmas dinner conversation about Christmas cards and the origins of the Three Wise Men myth. The pair later self-published a similar book examining the death of Jesus.
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"A brilliant introduction to the reading of the Bible."--Gregory Baom
Each year, on December 25th, millions of people the world over celebrate the birth of a man named Jesus. The celebrations take different forms in different places, but there are certain familiar elements common to nearly all. The ox and the ass, the magi, the Virgin Mary in blue, the shepherds in their fields, the brilliant star of Bethlehem: these are the images we have all grown up with. For many of us, they are first encountered in the classroom, during the performance of the traditional nativity play or the singing of carols at the school Christmas concert. Whether or not we believe in the stories of the birth of
Jesus, we certainly all think we know them inside out... but do we? Do we really know where these stories came from? Or who wrote them, and why?
Behind the commercial hype of the Christmas season and the stereotypical images lie the ancient accounts of two men, the gospel writers Matthew and Luke. But Matthew and Luke don't tell the same stories; they were different people writing for different audiences, up to fifty years after the death of Jesus. They often disagree with each other, and yet they share certain priorities in telling the story of the birth of the man they believed to be the messiah and the son of God. What lies behind those accounts, and the way they were told? In the search for answers to these questions, it is necessary to go much further back in time, beyond Bethlehem, to the writings of the Old Testament scholars. In their ancient writings we find the roots of the story of Jesus: prophecies and precedents, and some astonishingly parallel tales which helped to shape the gospels of Matthew and Luke. And in Beyond Bethlehem, we have an objective, meticulously researched study of that celebrated birth.
[BCBW Winter 1989]