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 http://www.lizcurtishiggs.com/, if you have any difficulty finding it or would like to know more about this prolific author.
Copyright 2007 Mary Beth Magee