Book Review: The story of Mary, mother of Jesus, as a Disciple
Updated: Jun 8
Media Review: I am reviewing some of the books and articles I have read, and videos and movies I have watched, as part of my research for my upcoming novel, which is set in the time of Jesus and his followers.
Come to Me
Author: Laura J. Davis
This is the author’s only Biblical fiction; she also has published biblical study books and devotionals. Her website states her purpose is to help readers grow in their relationship with the Lord.
2010 Word Alive Press
2011 Award Winner: Reader’s Favorite Award Winner
Genre: Christian fiction, Biblical fiction, Historical fiction
Many of the books I found on women in the Bible were either non-fiction or set in a time other than during the life of Jesus. I enjoyed finding this Biblical fiction, focused on Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The story shows Mary, age fifty-eight, on a ship from Jerusalem to John’s home in Ephesus. While they sail, she recounts her memories to the gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, as well as to the sailors and other passengers. The novel allows the reader to see the life of Jesus through Mary’s eyes, to hear about Mary’s feelings at the time of the birth, and at key points of Jesus’ ministry. The story closely follows the Gospel accounts and quotes references along the way. Portions of the story are told from an omniscient point of view, where the narrator tells what Jesus and the disciples said and did and gives voice to Jesus' thoughts. It is an easy read, with a reflective tone. It develops the character of Mary, her perspectives and her support of Jesus, and gives the reader a warm feeling about her. After the resurrection, Mary is presented as a disciple receiving the gift of the holy spirit and going out into the world to make others into disciples.
The book concludes with Mary, as an apostle, urging her listeners on the ship to repent, turn from their sins and be baptized. However, the author avoids having a woman preach to men, having Luke tell the crowd that what Mary says is true. Then many people recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
The author presents Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a woman of good humour, who trusts and obeys God and is constantly faithful. It shows her having a loving and happy relationship with Joseph until his death. This novel portrays Matthew as being from the village of Nazareth and being the brother of James the Younger. While both are named as the son of Alphaeus, most theologians do not think they are brothers.
The novel follows the tradition that Salome, the mother of James and John, is the sister of Jesus’ mother. This tradition is based on John 19:25: “near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Depending on the comma placement, the phrase “his mother’s sister” could be describing Mary the wife of Clopas, or it could be describing an unnamed sister of Jesus’ mother. Some theologians think that the unnamed sister of Jesus’ mother could be referring to Salome, making John a cousin of Jesus. The author places Salome at the burial. Only Mary Magdalene and Mary of Clopas are at the burial in Matthew 27:61 but other women went with Joseph to the tomb according to Luke 23:55.
The novel hypothesizes that Jesus asked Mary and John to live together partly so that John and the apostles could benefit from Mary’s constant faith. The novel follows the Protestant view that Mary gave birth to several children after Jesus and died a natural death.
Themes: Trusting God and Jesus through difficult times; Jesus praying “come to me” so that people, then and now, can get rid of the yoke of rules and regulations and cares of this world and rest in Jesus.
Pros: Mary is active not just at Jesus’ birth, when he was lost at age 12, and at the wedding in Cana, but also is shown as an active participant in Jesus’ work, present for the teaching and healing, and with him at the last supper, the cross and the resurrection. It was meaningful when Jesus washed Mary’s feet at the last supper. Mary is aware from the beginning that Jesus is the promised Messiah but, like the other apostles, did not realize that fulfilling his calling would mean death on the cross. Mary becomes an apostle, filled with the Holy Spirit and telling others about Jesus, making disciples of them.
Cons: The novel uses many religious terms, such as sin, repentance, and Messiah, which may not be understood by some readers. The novel does not show Mary having to overcome doubts or difficulties or struggling to attain a goal.
The book follows the tradition that Mary Magdalene is a repentant prostitute, looked down on by a virtuous person like Mary.
The book mentions Peter’s wife, Perpetua, but does present her as a co-worker in sharing the gospel.
The book misses the opportunity to build on the other women followers or disciples, often depicting the mother Mary as the only woman present among the disciples.