Starting with a dark-skinned girl barely out of adolescence when she gives birth, Lesley Hazleton weaves together the many facets of Mary's existence: peasant villager, wise woman and healer, activist, mother, teacher, and yes, virgin, though in a sense we have long forgotten. She follows her through the worst any mother can experience-the excruciating death of her child-and then looks at how she transforms grief into wisdom, disaster into renewal. Strong and courageous, the Mary we see here does not merely assent to her role in history, but chooses it and lives it to the fullest.
Lesley Hazleton is the award-winning author of eight books, including "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" and "Where Mountains Roar." Her work has appeared in such publications as the "New York Times," "Harper's Magazine," "Parade," "Esquire," "Vanity Fair," "Mirabella," and "The Nation."
Who was Mary? The most famous woman in the world is usually depicted as a blank, iconic figure rather than the extraordinary person she must have been. Beginning with a vision of a dark-skinned girl barely out of adolescence when she gives birth, Lesley Hazleton draws a fierce and inspiring portrait from Mary's myriad identities: peasant villager, wise woman and healer, activist, mother, teacher, and yes, virgin, though in a sense we have long forgotten this aspect. We see how she becomes pregnant, how she raises her son to inspire and to lead, and how she survives the worst any mother can experience--the excruciating death of her child. Above all, as Jesus is buried and resurrected, we gain new insight into the depth of Mary's wisdom as she transforms grief into action, and disaster into renewal.
A former psychologist and political reporter with deep roots in both Judaism and Catholicism, Hazleton has drawn on years of research and experience in the Middle East, as well as on anthropology, history, and theology. The Mary who emerges is neither demystified nor diminished. On the contrary, it is her very humanity that makes this such a powerful and universal story, one in which women everywhere will recognize themselves.
This brilliant biography radically reenvisions the life of Mary, restoring her to us as both a real woman and a powerful spiritual leader. "Drawing on a wide range of sources including the sometimes suppressed history of the feminine in ancient religions, Hazleton paints a convincing picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both scholars and nonspecialists are bound to enjoy this highly readable intellectual and spiritual treat."--Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of "Common Prayers" "An intelligent, trenchant puzzling over the details of history and culture, as well as a reclamation project . . . a tremendous accomplishment."--"The Seattle Times
""The book weaves an amazing tapestry of the threads of Maryam's skills, experiences and actions, all plausible . . . Hazleton provides fascinating details of Galilean women's common knowledge of herbs, healing and midwifery/abortion . . . She convinces readers by the end of the book to reject--or at least reconsider--the traditional image of Mary as quiet, humble and self-denying."--"The Charlotte Observer
""Lesley Hazleton's "Mary" is simultaneously intellectual, fanciful, respectful and impious . . . An original, contrary view, with something to challenge everyone who picks it up."--"The Oregonian" (Portland)
"Although Hazleton's research is scholarly, her prose is anything but academic. Instead her words beat like a human heart, warm and strong and full of possibility. In fact, this book may remind readers of Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent," for both offer lush, you-are-there descriptions and a passionate female perspective . . . Absorbing reading . . . Difficult to put down."--"Oakland Tribune
"""Mary" has the starch of real history to it . . . Hazleton's] writing flows like wine and readers of fiction as well as history will enjoy it . . . Those who revere Mary needn't worry that this book will de-mystify one of the world's great religious figures. Instead, Hazleton adds a layer to the Mary story that actually makes her more remarkable than ever."--"Santa Cruz Sentinel"
"At last A real, flesh-and-blood Mary. Recent scholarship about Jesus situating him in the social and political milieu of first-century Palestine now extends to his mother, Mary. Far from robbing us of faith, this grounding of Mary's life as a brown-skinned, struggling peasant girl invites us deeper into the sheer, paradoxical mystery of faith."--Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking
""Drawing on a wide range of sources including the sometimes suppressed history of the feminine in ancient religions, Hazleton paints a convincing picture of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Both scholars and nonspecialists are bound to enjoy this highly readable intellectual and spiritual treat."--Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of "Common Prayers
""With all the biographies of Jesus, we finally have a study of the most important person in his life: his mother, Mary. Lesley Hazleton gives us a rich, provocative, suggestive, and enormously insightful exploration of one of the most influential yet neglected women in world history."--Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
"By far the most exciting treatment of Mary I have ever encountered. Hazleton's historical and literary imagining is deeply grounded in thorough research into the conditions of life in ancient Galilee and Judea. She summons her most powerful prose for treatment of the most sensitive issues--Mary's impregnation and her experience of her son's gruesome death by crucifixion--and brings her trauma and struggles to life like no other recent writer."--Richard A. Horsley, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of "Jesus and Empire