The Oxford Handbook of Christmas

Happy Holidays! This week's review takes an in-depth historical, theological, and cultural look at Christmas.

The Oxford Handbook of Christmas

ed. by Timothy Larsen Oxford, 2020
656p index, 9780198831464 $145.00, 9780191869167

The Oxford Handbook of Christmas book cover

This beautiful, comprehensive handbook thoroughly covers the religious and cultural significance of the Christian festival of Christmas. Larsen (Christian thought, Wheaton College, Illinois) assembled an international team of contributors, and he divides their 45 essays into eight topical parts. “History” covers the history of Christmas in Christianity from the beginning to the present; “Theology” and “Worshipping Communities” deal with, respectively, the biblical and theological aspects of Christmas and how the holiday is observed within the various Christian communities; and “The Nativity Story” examines different aspects of the traditional Christmas narrative. The remaining four sections cover Christmas traditions, Christmas in the arts, Christmas around the world, and Christmas in state and society. Though the beauty of the book and its illustrations could lead one to think otherwise, this is a serious work of scholarship, as evidenced by the extensive bibliographies at the end of each essay.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: M. A. Granquist, Luther Seminary
Subject: Humanities – Religion
Choice Issue: Jun 2021

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