One of the most interesting articles on the Christmas story I read this past year was part of Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, where he shows that Jesus was probably not born in a stable but actually in a peasant home. The “inn” (kataluma) is better translated “guest room” and it would have been unthinkable according to Middle Eastern hospitality customs in a tiny village like Bethlehem for clan relatives like Joseph & Mary to be not accommodated. They probably shared the living room with the family, which was right next to the manger. Read Bailey’s full article here.
Here’s Bailey’s book, which is full of great cultural insights on the gospels, based on his lifelong theological research having grown up and lived all his life in in the Middle East:
Elias Chacour is another Arab Christian author from Palestine whose biography is a great read: