From the intro:
Mary was like all other Jews awaiting the Messiah. They expected a king like David and Solomon of old to rule from a throne in Jerusalem. This story is about that great expectation. It’s a story about an ordinary woman chosen to give birth to an extraordinary being. He was Immanuel–God with us. He was not part God and part man. He was all God and all man. No one can adequately explain it. He was born of the Holy Spirit because that part of him that was all God must come from God. HE was born of a virgin because that part of him that was all man must come from a human.
…When we understand and accept that Christ’s mother was no more or less than the rest of us: with faults, feelings, and yes–sins, then the story of Mary will become much more meaningful. She also had to humble herself and submit to Jesus as her Saviour.
Over forty years ago I prepared a lesson on Mary’s view of Jesus. That lesson has been delivered to various churches since, and it has always been my intention to expand it into book form.
…I took the Biblical story and “fleshed it out” with how I think events might have come about.
This book is actually the first in a series. This book covers the first year of Yeshua/Jesus’ ministry. (Those of you who read here on a regular basis know that I prefer to use the Hebrew names for G-d.) In the back of the book, there is a description of the second book which covers the second year of His ministry, so I assume there are three books…one for each year.
I first found out about this book when I read an excerpt and was immediately captivated. While there are other books that are written in the first person of a biblical character, this is the first one I can recall ever seeing written from the viewpoint of Mary, the mother of Yeshua. Page by page, we are taken through the events of Yeshua’s life as told through the heart of His mother. It feels almost as if you are reading her private journal or diary…or are sitting over tea as she shares her heart about the events in her Son’s life. It is very poignant.
Now, I feel a need to interject here that I typically do NOT read books of this nature. As with any book of this type, a certain amount of literary license has to be taken. Conversations have to be “imagined”, as do the descriptions of some events and places. This is especially the case with this book because we just do not have much historical material to go on when it comes to Mary. This necessity for literary license makes me very wary because I do not want my mind filled with things that may slant my thinking about a biblical person or event in a way that may not be factual. So, now you have an idea of how captivated I was with the excerpt that I actually read the book! In fact, I look forward to the rest of the series. For those of you who do enjoy that kind of reading, I suggest you take a look at this book.
The author did two things to compensate for the lack of historical material on Mary. First, he studied the scriptures and the culture for years. Jim Baumgardner took care to try to stay as accurate to the scriptures as possible while acknowledging that, by default, a lot has to be speculation. He worked very hard to try to make the scenes, conversations and descriptions believable and historically true to the Bible, the culture and the people.
I enjoyed reading about some of the Hebrew customs of the day and how they might have played into what happened. I do wish he had gone further, like using the Hebrew names. However, I also understand that it would have made it feel very foreign to most people who are not at all familiar with the Hebrew names.
The other thing he does to compensate is include Mary among the women who traveled with Yeshua, which opens the door for using a lot of the material that talks about His travels. No one can say for sure whether she did, or did not, travel with Him. She had at least six other children, but by the time Yeshua was 30, it is most likely they were all old enough to be married, leaving her free to go on the adventure.
This is not an easy way to write a book. After all, how does one (particularly a man) get inside the head of a mother…especially the mother of such an extraordinary Son? The author makes a very good effort and I think he does a pretty good job of it.
As with any time someone tries to flesh out a real historical figure and relate real events, there are going to be some differences of thought. There are some things we simply do not know…like how many wise men actually came. In instances like that, you simply have to pick a number. And there are things we do know but think differently on…like the following.
I struggle with Mary calling the land “Palestine”. Palestine was the name given by the Romans to Israel as an insult to the Hebrew people. Palestine is a take on Philistine…the name of one of Israel’s key enemies and the people of Goliath. I simply cannot imagine Mary identifying her home land of Israel as “Palestine”. She might have to outsiders (if she even interacted with any as a Hebrew woman) who may have only known it as “Palestine”, but in her private thoughts or among her own people…I find that difficult to believe.
I really like that the author brought in relevant information about the culture that most people do not know about. There are places where I felt more information was available that he could have shared, particularly as it pertains to the birth of Yeshua. Some of that is, I know, my bias. For example, I (and many others) see evidences in the scriptures of His birth coming during the time of a feast and there are things about the birth that I would have liked to see included (like the meaning of the word used for “inn” in the English translations and how it relates to the typical home of the time). However, he did share a lot more about Yeshua’s Jewish heritage and culture than most authors and I commend him for that.
I am typically a fast reader, but this little book took a long time to read. The style of writing is a bit different from what I am used to, so I found myself rereading it in places. Plus, I am sure that receiving news of my mother’s death while reading a book told from a mother’s point of view…a book written after her own son’s death when she could look back at all that had happened with new eyes…created a possible emotional connection for me.
I think the biggest reason it took me so long to read it is because I found myself constantly comparing in my mind what I was reading to what I remembered of scripture. What was literary license and what was scripture? I admit that I did not look up the scriptures as I would normally have done. However, I did end up pondering things a lot, going over in my mind what I was reading. So, I cannot say that I checked it thoroughly for accuracy.
One thing he did which I really appreciate (although I did not discover it until I got to the end of the book) was to include in the back a list of the scriptures that he drew from, separated by chapter. He also gives a list of references he used for the overall book.
I would suggest that the book be read slowly, meditatively, with bible in hand. Go ahead and look things up. I have found that, when I can confirm a different view of a biblical event, it broadens my understanding of not only that event, but all of scripture.
I enjoyed reading about how she handled Gabriel’s appearance and how she pondered how to ask her parents to just suddenly go visit Elizabeth. What reason could she give? What should she tell her parents about the angel? Would they believe her? So many things to consider in that moment. The possible conversation Mary had with her parents seems very real and plausible.
There is a website where you can find more information about the book and buy it. The last I checked, the author was offering a special for Mother’s Day. I encourage you to check it out.
Go to: Biblical Novels or click on the book image at the top.