Book Review: "Magdalene" by Angela Hunt

The controversial woman with a past only one Man could forgive. A true love story that changed the face of history.

"I was Miryam of Magdala, seller of fine fabrics and wife of Yaakov the fisherman. With my husband and son, I held a place of honor among my countrymen until a company of rogue soldiers took everything from me. I might not be Roman, but I knew injustice when I saw it. And I had been most grievously wronged."

In an era when women are sequestered and silenced, Miryam of Magdala lives a contended life until her son's careless gesture evokes a hostile action that shatters her serenity. With no hope of justice, Miryam commits and unthinkable act and descends into depths of darkness that threaten her life and her sanity. Even after Yeshua the Messiah dramatically restores her life, Miryam can neither forget nor forgive unresolved injustices. Prodded by a hunger for vengeance she will not deny, this woman of uncommon courage risks her life and her heart by drawing destiny into her own hands.

Back in 2006 when this book had originally come out, The Da Vinci Code was all the rage in the media. Even though it was a fictional story, there had appeared to be historical evidence to back up the claims. Also there was also a rise in interest in Gnosticism. Therefore many Christian publishers set to provide an alternative for those who were interested in what was considered the true story of what really happened between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Tyndale published a line of different versions of Mary Magdalene's story ranging from contemporary fiction to YA fiction to historical Biblical fiction. This book is the latter.

Angela Hunt has always been one of my favorite authors because her books are always guaranteed to be well written and extremely well researched. You can tell in her books she's actually gone out and done first hand research in her stories, instead of just using second hand data. I really liked how there is an authentic feel to the book as the characters use Hebrew and Greek names such as Miryam and Yochanan. While the characters do speak in English so we can understand them, they don't speak in a contemporary fashion, as is a mistake some authors make when writing historical fiction. There is no mention of Mary being a prostitute or even a fallen woman in this book. Instead Hunt portrays her as a woman who has fallen on hard times and is on the brink of desperation. She does deal with demons as is stated in the Bible. There is a major parallel subplot involving a Roman solider that intertwines with Mary's story but other than that no major liberties were taken with the character. I really felt as if this book brought the character to life and helped me to understand her and the world she lived in better.

As an added bonus there is also an interview with the author which details her research and answers questions about the accuracy of the story as well as pages of references of the books and original texts used in the research. I know that Biblical fiction can be a touchy subject for some readers, but if you are a fan of the genre and want to know more about this controversial woman, pick up this book. It's a fascinating read and will keep you enthralled.

Magdalene by Angela Hunt is published by Tyndale (2006)


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