Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: April 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: The Testament of Mary by Colman Toibin



Provocative, haunting, and indelible, Colm Tóibín’s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.

In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son's crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel—her keepers, who provide her with food and shelter and visit her regularly. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was “worth it;” nor that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples. Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died—she fled, to save herself), and is equally harsh on her judgment of others. This woman who we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes, in Toibin’s searing evocation, a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. This tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.(less)

My review:

A very well-written and captivating book full of emotion, The Testament of Mary would do very well as an account of a grieving mother focusing on how depression can affect memory. Unfortunately for a Christian reader, such as myself, it is supposedly about the mother of Christ.

Or rather, it's about the mother of a man who claimed to be The Christ. A man who made up miracles, as if they were magic tricks. A man whose followers would do anything to fulfil prophecy.

For me this book is useful as an alternative viewpoint to challenge and help me think about my faith. If you're someone who likes this sort of challenge then go ahead and read it, but I would not advise this book for newer believers. 

Rated:4/5 stars

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