Back in the beginning of the Christmas season, I wrote about the way the gospel Christmas narratives “roll the credits” by giving genealogical tables that link Jesus to Jewish history. In contemplating Christmas, we should never forget that the first Christmas was first and foremost a Jewish event. Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherds, the baby: they were all Jewish. And as the baby Jesus moved toward adolescence and adulthood, it was Jewish religion, Jewish literature, Jewish culture and Jewish history that shaped his personality and his mind.These facts are so familiar to us that it’s sometimes easy to miss the troubling questions around them. A couplet by the rather distasteful British journalist William Norman Ewer states the issue:
How odd of God
To choose the Jews.