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Remembering The Christmas Story

Writing the Biblical texts of Handel’s Messiah

Dr. Bechtel first encountered Handel’s Messiah as a member of her high school choir. In rehearsals, she admits that she would sometimes stare off into space thinking about the words when she was supposed to be singing.   

Dr. Carol Bechtel is the author of Kerygma's Hallelujah: The Bible and Handel's Messiah, and Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: the Bible & Brahms' Requiem.

Carol grew up on a farm near Fulton, Illinois, a small town on the Mississippi River, and some of her earliest memories of the Bible were hearing the Christmas story read on Christmas Eve. “And of course” she added, “that’s wrapped up with all of the excitement that a child feels in anticipating Christmas morning.

For the young Carol, her own story provided a unique connection and a greater appreciation for this child who was named Jesus. “The fact that I grew up on a farm meant that all of my senses were engaged when I heard that story, because I loved to hang out in the barn. Other people might think, “Oh no. Jesus was born in a barn?” But since the barn was one of my favorite places, my response was, “How cool! Jesus was born in a barn!” 

As a Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary and as an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church in America, Dr. Bechtel engages students and congregations with the many stories contained in the Scriptures.  As the author of Bible studies she encourages adults to continue their study of the Bible “in depth, over time, and in community.” “The Bible is more than just a collection of ancient stories about strange people in faraway lands. It is, in a very real sense, our story."

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