Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Mary of Nazareth by Marek Halter
In his latest novelization of Biblical figures, author Marek Halter explores the life of the mother of Jesus, in Mary of Nazareth. He crafts a stunning portrayal that, while unlike the traditional views of the Biblical Mary, is endearing and fascinating.
In a land oppressed by King Herod the Great and his Roman supporters, Miriam as she is known throughout the novel, is a daring child, equally devoted to her family as she is to seeking justice for her people. When King Herod’s mercenaries descend on Nazareth looking for some rebels who destroyed a storehouse, Miriam encounters the enigmatic young thief Barabbas hiding in her father’s house. She thwarts the soldiers’ efforts to find him but by morning, the young man has disappeared. Years later, when Miriam’s father, the carpenter Joachim is captured, she boldly seeks Barabbas’ help to save her father from his ordeal on the cross. In a daring rescue attempt, Barabbas and his motley band save Joachim from the heavily guarded fortress of Tarichea. They flee under the cover of night. But a seed of rebellion takes root in the heart of the men, and her continued association with Barabbas threatens her future. For Miriam’s safety, she separates from her parents and lives in Magdala for a time, where she studies. When rebellion against Herod leads to a tragic loss, Miriam despairs but finds strength in her studies and her hopes for the future. At home again in Nazareth and reunited with her family, Miriam embraces an unexpected destiny as the mother of Messiah.
Miriam is at times, willful then obedient, passionate and yet patient. The author skillfully weaves the history of the period, the Biblical accounts of the life of Christ’s mother and his research into an enthralling characterization. This book is a must read, with engaging characters and great attention to historical detail. I highly recommend Mary of Nazareth.