Sunday, July 26, 2009

'Unveiling Mary Magdalene' by Liz Curtis Higgs

Mary Magdalene seems to be the “It” girl of the first decade of the 21st century. She has been variously portrayed as a slut, a prostitute, an adulteress, an epileptic, a business woman; she’s been labeled Jesus’ financial supporter, his lover, his wife and mother of his child(ren). Before Dan Brown made her a clue in his code, she was one of the Bad Girls of the Bible to author Liz Curtis Higgs.

Higgs excels at the practice of taking a well-known Bible story and setting it in a different locale, a different time period to remind us of the enduring truth underlying the familiar words. For her, Mary Magdalene is ripe for transporting to modern-day Chicago. Higgs does an admirable job of turning Magdalene into Mad Mary Margaret Delaney, an off-kilter woman roaming the streets of the north side. When Mary meets pastor Jake Stauros, her life takes a totally different tack.

Jake leads a barely surviving neighborhood church (across the street from a moving company’s warehouse, to give you an idea of the neighborhood) and specializes in helping those whom society has cast off. Mary fits the bill nicely. Through a series of events, we see Mary leave the tormented landscape of her mind and rejoin society.

Through Mary Delaney, Higgs sweeps away the centuries to bring us a portrait of a troubled woman who is redeemed by faith. The tone is gently conversational, as though Higgs is bringing you up-to-date on a mutual friend. While remaining faithful to known Biblical information, she fleshes out the character in a fresh setting to make us rethink the position of Mary Magdalene in the early days of the church.

The first half of the book relates Mary’s path; the second half is a study of the person behind the story and the basis of Higgs’ conclusions about her. It works on both levels. This book is imminently suitable for use as a study group subject and satisfying as a novel. Taken together, the book is a gem. Originally published as “Mad Mary,” the renamed “Unveiling Mary Magdalene” is a great read. It is available at most bookstores, as well as through Higgs online store. Visit her website at, if you have any difficulty finding it or would like to know more about this prolific author.

Copyright 2007 Mary Beth Magee

No comments:

Post a Comment