4 Dec

Two Women of Galilee by Mary Rourke is a look into the world of women in 1st century Palestine.  The two women of the title are Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Joanna is mentioned only briefly in scripture — The twelve were with him as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.   . . . Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza . . . and many others, who provided for them out of their own resources. (Luke 8:1-3)  But from this brief mention, Rourke has woven a thoughtful tale of what it must have been like for a woman follower of Jesus.

In the novel, Mary and Joanna are cousins separated by their families’ social status and political ideals.  Joanna is raised in a family that embraces the Roman occupiers of Palestine.  Married to Chuza, Herod Antipas’ steward, she lives a life of material wealth and social prominence.  But she is ill.  Consumption threatens to kill her, until she meets her healer.  Jesus is portrayed through Joanna’s eyes not as a great teacher or prophet, but a man who loved her enough to deliver her from death.  Like most of His followers, Joanna does not learn of the real truth of Jesus until His resurrection.

Two Women of Galilee provides a very different view of Mary than most novels.  Mary is the loving mother who knows the importance of her son’s destiny, yet still grieves for the troubles that He faces.  Just days before Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary is shown alone at night facing heaven and asking “If  you knew it would end this way why did you include me? Mary is portrayed as a woman of faith, yet with the same doubts and fears faced by all mothers.

This novel would provide an excellent reading experience prior to Easter.  Check it out in the library.


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