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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
209 pages
Oct 2006

The Nativity Story: A Novel

by Angela Hunt with Mike Rich

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The Nativity Story by Angela Hunt is based on the new motion picture screenplay by Mike Rich. It is not so much a story of the birth of Jesus, as it is the story of people who sought hope in obeying God and looking for the coming of a savior despite the discouraging circumstances around them.

This is not simply a story of the past. Throughout the book, there are parallels that can be drawn for the reader today. Mary and Joseph’s journey is the journey of believers. They seek to obey God and await the coming of His Son. The wise men are also on a journey, seeking to grow closer to God. One man comes in full earnest, no matter what the hardship; one comes because of a friend; and one comes not wanting to leave behind the creature comforts of the world.

Nothing is more fascinating than the character portrayals of Mary and Joseph. Mary is an obedient, yet not perfect, young girl just arrived to womanhood. Responding in faith to the angel, she yields, but she is naïve as to how much this will affect her life. Joseph is a kind, devoted follower of God, who is severely disappointed when he learns that his bride-to-be is with child. He is very real; he thinks of genuine problems that he and Mary will have in rearing Jesus. The three wise men, the priest Zechariah and his aging wife Elizabeth, as well as King Herod, are also important to the story. Their personalities are well-developed, but not quite to the breadth of Mary and Joseph’s characters.

Unfortunately, in historical accuracy, the book follows more of the Christmas legend than the biblical account. Here are some things in the book which are popularly true, but do not have biblical validation: there are three wise men, Jesus is born in a stable, and Mary has no midwife in attendance at Jesus’ birth. These are traditionally true, but not backed-up by biblical accounts. There are other occurrences in The Nativity Story that some biblical scholars would deem completely inaccurate, such as the star, which the wise men follow, appearing before Jesus is born, and the wise men arriving in Bethlehem the night Jesus is born, whereas most scholars feel it was a few years later.

Despite some biblical inaccuracy, there is a rich, historic and cultural background rooted in Hebraic names for God and the customs of marriage, travel, and sacrifice. This cultural depth helps the reader experience and understand the characters while the movie-like sequencing of scenes makes the book interesting and fairly easy to read. For the ambitious reader, Hunt includes discussion questions along with an interview that includes background information about turning the screenplay into a book.

The Christmas story has been told many times, but The Nativity Story is a unique description. Even though it is tailored more toward the traditional Christmas story than the biblical Christmas story, it gives an interesting look into biblical characters as well as the culture background for the era into which Jesus was born. If looking for theological material, nothing beats the biblical story, but when trying to get an understanding of what the nativity characters could have experienced, The Nativity Story can be at the top of the list. – Kristi Meyers, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

After Cleopatra and Antony are defeated at Actium, a ruthless king rises in Judea, determined to do anything to safeguard his power.

A few years later, in the quiet of an eastern palace, a group of magi study the heavens and realize that several ancient prophecies are about to be fulfilled.

In the Holy Place of the Jerusalem Temple, an aged priest is shocked into silence by an unearthly visitor.

And in the simple town of Nazareth, an angelic messenger appears before a teenage girl . . . who finds the courage to believe.

In The Nativity Story, developed from the screenplay by Mike Rich, Angela Hunt fleshes out the characters and histories of the people who lived through the miracles and mysteries surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. This well-researched story is based on the scriptural account. Journey back through time as you relive what they experienced and celebrate the wonder of Immanuel, God with us.

Includes exclusive photographs from the production of the film.