Monday, 25 September 2006

Mary Magdalene by Angela Hunt

4 1/2 stars

The release of Angela Hunt's latest Biblical novel, Magdalene, is more than timely as the allegations concerning Miryam (Mary) Magdalene's relationship to Jesus as proposed by Dan Brown's, The DaVinci Code has confused and misirected many people. Angela Hunt has previously authored some exceptional novels surrounding the Biblical accounts of Joseph and his brothers and with Magdalene she has again triumphed by bringing Mary's story to life with thorough research and sensitive extrapolation.

The opening chapter finds Miryam in Rome, preparing to tell her life story to her judge, Flavius Gemellus, a requirement imposed on all prisoners facing execution for crimes against the Roman empire. Also present is centurian Atticus Aurelius, who spent many years as a soldier in Judea and whose life is inexplicably entwined with Miryam's although he is initially unaware of her identity. As the story unfolds we see Miryam's life in Magdala is prosperous and she shares it with her husband and two sons until her eldest, Avram, foolishly offends a Roman soldier with devastating results. Miryam's spiralling grief and heartache is chillingly told as she eventually succumbs to madness due to her overwhelming hatred of all things Roman and the desperation in her heart.

True to the Biblical account, Miryam meets Yeshua (Jesus)and is delivered of the demons possessing her, enabling her to be restored to the community and she chooses to follow Yeshua and his disciples. However, Miryam will not let go of the simmering anger against those who have wronged her and it boils over after Yeshua is crucified, as her dreams of him conquering the Roman foe in battle are destroyed. Despite her knowledge of his miraculous resurrection, Miryam embarks on a dangerous and misguided plan in the hope of finding justice by her own hand.

Angela Hunt has used the first person narrative to tell Miryam's story, with Atticus Aurelius's point of view interspersed throughout which assists in the reader's understanding of people and events. Ms Hunt sensitively uses Jesus' own words from the Bible as much as possible and her bibliography displays extensive research to ensure actual historical people and events are accurately portrayed. This book provides a solid Biblical basis on which to consider the life of Miryam, the extraordinary compassion and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God's plan for us all to be forgiven and restored to Him.


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