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Mary of Nazareth

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  526 ratings  ·  93 reviews
The ancient world and its politics come to life through the eyes of a young Jewish woman, Mary of Nazareth

Miriam–also known as Mary–was born into a Palestine oppressed by Herod the Great; she is accustomed to living with uncertainty and unrest. But when her beloved father is wrongly imprisoned by the Romans, she takes action. She calls upon a well-known rebel by the name o
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,203)
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Pxl2632
Great book. Gives an account of what Mary's life may have been like prior to the birth of jesus. The jist of the story is that Mary and the rest of her villagers (all of israel really) is under the thumb of Roman rule, specifically under the rule of Herod who is a paranoid, greedy, lunatic. After her father is taken away to be crucified for standing up against Roman mercenaries, she contacts Barabas who is a robin hood like hero of the people to help her rescue him.

Afterwards, Mary and her fami
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Melissa
I was soooo disappointed in this book. I mean, I understand that in "historical FICTION" the author takes license to tell a story that she/he wants to tell regardless of the facts...However, this particular story, having to do with Mary, the mother of Jesus was so outrageous, that I almost stopped halfway through.

I did like the idea of Mary, the activist as opposed to how she is usually portrayed, not that I really believe that a woman in Isreal in 3BC could have really been an "activist" in th
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Marvin
A translation of a novel by a Polish Jew who has written best-selling novels about several women from the Hebrew Bible. An epigraph from David Ben-Gurion says, "Jesus is the most radiant figure in History. But although everyone now knows that he was a Jew, no one knows that his mother Mary was also a Jew." She's certainly a Jew here, but one who rebels against the Jewish strictures on women. This story imagines her life mostly BEFORE Jesus, except for an odd, disingenuous, perhaps dishonest, epi ...more
Katy
Who was Mary of Nazareth before she became the Mother of Yeshua? This novel, whose main character is based on Jesus' mother, attempts to shed a ray of light to the unrevealed life that Mary had. It would've been more effective, in my opinion if it were the sort of novel that filled in the blanks - Girl With a Pearl Earring comes to mind, and not a novel that created an alternate reality distorting what are widely-accepted facts and beliefs. The problem with a subject so popular and well-loved as ...more
Mel
I'm a big fan of Marek Halter. I was looking forward to reading this one.

It's a good story about a woman living in Biblical times. It has strong characters and a good plot.

However, I found myself having a hard time believing this was Mary of Nazareth's story. I was expecting a story either filling in the blanks on the story in the Bible or an alternative explanation for how she became pregnant. Halter's version takes so many liberties with the original story that I found it hard to believe this
...more
Jamie
This was an exciting book for the first few chapters but it soon went downhill for me. I was surprised that the mother of Jesus could be depicted as annoying and condescending. I feel as though the author wanted to portray Mary as having wisdom and strength that astonished those around her, but instead she came off as very haughty and holier-than-thou. I am disappointed that I tarnished my idea of Mary by reading this book.
Khoiriyyah Azzahro
Mary hidup di masa kekuasaan Raja Herodes
(pada sebuah film tentang Maryam yang pernah
Saya tonton di televisi, sang raja juga dikenal
dengan Raja Herod –tanpa akhiran ‘es’). Raja ini
terkenal amat lalim dan semena-mena terhadap
rakyatnya. Suatu hari, serombongan tentara
bayaran raja menggeledah satu persatu rumah
penduduk. Mereka sedang mencari orang-orang
yang mereka anggap sebagai bandit-bandit
pemberontak. Menurut mereka bandit-bandit ini
ingin merampok petugas pajak dan menculik raja.
Bandit-bandit in
...more
Carol Lueck
This story reveals Miriam (Mary) in a new way for me. I think that is why I like to read historical fiction. Even though it is fiction it can open new vistas in our thinking. The Miriam in this novel is a young girl eager to study and learn - not a privilege allowed to the women of her era. She becomes fearless in standing up for what she believes to be right and speaks her mind among learned men of the time. The portrayal of the political times during which Miriam lived helped me to see another ...more
Judy
It had some interesting twists. A Jewish perspective of Mary. He covered the times and cultural events. The resurrection was not part of the author's belief system yet implied reincarnation?
Katy
Without a doubt, the best book I've read this season! Miriam, who later is known as Mary of Nazareth, as a young girl saves a young thief Barabus from the Roman mercenaries. Later, she goes to him and asks for his help in saving her father from the cross. Their young paths intertwine, and they both hate the cruelty of the rule from Herod and from Rome. Each has a different way of fighting the injustice, one through battle and one through becoming the mother of the Messiah.

This book, based on int
...more
Rachel
I had liked Marek Halter's books: Sarah,Zipporah, Wife of Moses, and Lilah. While he took a few liberties when telling those stories as well (it is fiction after all), this book goes far beyond okay and intriguing departures from the Biblical story. First of all, his Mary is too unrealistic: she is a feminist who becomes highly educated,(view spoiler) ...more
Anastacia
I have a hard time giving a Christian book a bad review, so to be honest up front, that's one of the reasons why this book is rated 3 stars, not 2.

I picked this book up to read at the library, because I enjoy reading fiction books about Biblical women (the Red Tent immediately comes to mind). I've never read a book by this author, & I was intrigued to read a book from a Jewish prospective - one that is slightly different from the Christian framepoint I was raised with.

I enjoyed the book unti
...more
Ksenia
This is another book in my year-long book reading project. I had very mixed feelings about this book. For the most part, I enjoyed it. There is not much written in the Bible about Mary prior to her giving birth to Jesus. The author was able to recreate Mary’s supposed life with great detail and elegance. Along the way, you meet people you may be familiar with: Joseph of Arimethea, Elizabeth, and even Mary Magdalene and Joseph, but not necessarily as you might have imagined them to be (based off ...more
Wellington

Making a departure from my non-fiction reading, I picked up a historical novel about the most famous mother of all time.

The story starts out with Miriam and her family struggling to survive the yoke of the tyrannical Roman rule under King Herod. By a freak accident, Miriam's father is set to be crucified. The precocious Miriam boldly sets out to rescue him with the help of a dangerous friend, Barrabas.

It's a crisp book that doesn't weight the soul down with diatribes of heavy handed preaching.
...more
Femmy
2,5 bintang -- Virgin Mary sebagian besar berkisah tentang masa muda Maria. Selama ini saya membayangkan Maria dalam konteks ke-Kristen-an, agama yang menempatkannya sebagai orang istimewa yang mengandung Yesus sang Mesias. Novel ini mengubah pandangan saya, dengan menggambarkan Maria bukan sebagai orang Kristen, tetapi sebagai perempuan Yahudi, yang tentu memang demikianlah halnya. Cukup menarik juga mengetahui kehidupan masyarakat Yahudi pada zaman itu, yang terpecah belah dalam berbagai alira ...more
Jennifer Kim
What a fascinating read! I always wondered what more is there to the story of Mary who was the mother of Jesus. I mean, if I was God, I would pick the best woman or young girl out there to bear my son. She would also have the character and the strength to guide him and face what God must have known was ahead of both mother and the child.

The Bible fails miserably at painting the portrait of this important woman. Maybe the most important woman in history! She is stubborn, feisty, rebellious, and f
...more
Mazel
" Existe-t-il une personne au monde qui ignorerait le nom de Marie, mère de Jésus, celle qui engendra le plus grand bouleversement spirituel depuis la naissance du monothéisme.

Pourtant, ce que nous disent les Evangiles se résume à quelques versets elliptiques et mystérieux.

Durant les années nécessaires à la rédaction de ce roman, dressant le portrait de "ma Marie", je me suis efforcé d'imaginer qui avait pu être cette Miryem de Nazareth, née en Galilée dans le chaotique royaume d'Israël en but
...more
Fabien
Une agréable biographie évidemment complètement romancée de la vie de Marie selon le point de vue de Marek Halter, mais surtout une très brillante ouverture d'une page d'histoire sur ce coin du globe.

Il me sera compliqué d’émettre la moindre remarque sur la trame de fond qu'est la vie de Marie, car ma lecture des textes bibliques est parcellaire et ancienne. Qui plus est, il ne semble exister aucuns textes relatant cette vie, si ce n'est apocryphes. J'ai donc pris le parti de lire ce roman comm
...more
Jennifer Diakiw
As a fictional account of Mary, Mother of Jesus, it doesn't jibe with my beliefs. But the images of the political climate during the rule of Herod were very powerful and I loved the context-setting, almost the 'back story' of familiar names in the Bible. I'll read more of Marek Halter's work.
Juliet-Camille
I totally got sucked in by the cover.

Ultimately this was more religious/zealot feel good than anything noteworthy.

Mary (Miriam) was interesting in the beginning, but I wasn't convinced by her transformation into the "virgin mother" at the end. It just didn't work for me.
Maria
I really liked most of this book; the ending and part that makes the miracles hocus pocus kind of turned me off. Maybe it's the Catholic in me, but I didn't like that at all, but it didn't spoil the book for me. A nice story about feminist mary!
Karen
This insightful book about Miriam (Mary) of Nazareth told the story of Mary, the mother of Yeshua (Jesus), as a young girl --- the Mary you only thought you knew. Other characters who figured prominently in the story were Barabbas the outlaw; Joachim, Mary's father; Joseph of Arimathea, an Essene healer; and Miriamne (Mary Magdalene). It was well-written and well-researched, and an enjoyable read. The only problematic elements of the story came near the end of the book. I'd like to hear from oth ...more
Richard
I know that this book is a work of fiction, containing conversations between historical people for which there are no records. However, some of the writing -- especially the last chapter, "The Gospel of Mary" -- tends to give credence to thoughts and ideas which go totally against the teachings of the Church and the beliefs of untold millions world-wide. It is also a book which took me well over 100 pages before it "grabbed" my attention, and at no point would I have been disappointed to not ret ...more
Kristina
I liked the story. I love reading someone else's ideas about biblical characters' lives and relationships. It is amazing to think about Mary and what her life must have been like to have been ready to have the Savior as her son. I really liked his take on some things, not so much on others. The epilogue is a little weird, useless to the story and made me feel like he was saying Jesus didn't really die and resurrect. I'm not sure if he was, but that is what it sounded like. Either way, I liked th ...more
Chris
04/24/10 - I finally finished listening. Still not my favorite story... It deals with a topic that I don't know a lot about, the life of Mary. I am making the assumption that this is mostly fiction derived from the "Gospel of Mary". I didn't really find it enlightening or entertaining. I guess it's just not my thing. Your mileage may vary.

04/12/10 - still listening, I think I'm most of the way through... not my favorite, but I am making it through.

Listening to the audiobook... So far it is kind
...more
Lora
Two and a half stars. This unique exploration of the historical Mary certainly made me consider her in more vivid circumstances than I ever had before. It also succeeded at identifying her firmly as a Jew, which is a fact people seem to overlook or forget. Still, the endless politics and philosophizing kept me from being as engaged as I wanted to be. The epilogue with its supposed "gospel of Mary" further undermined the story for me. Its literary style is fluid and seamless (or I should say, the ...more
Carolyn
I typically like these types of books. I enjoy hearing other peoples views on the stories, I enjoy reading their thoughts and see how they write the story. This one, seemed to take to many liberties! I have heard nothing about any thing in this story. Mary and Joseph not married? No angel? There was nothing that went along with the bible stories that I have heard my whole life! I would like to know what part of it was researched? And what was researched (what were the sources)? It was interestin ...more
Stephanie
Feb 17, 2009 Stephanie added it
Recommended to Stephanie by: Shelf display at the bookstore
I picked this book up at the bookstore in the Montreal airport. It is a fictional account of Mary of Nazareth - she is called Miriam throughout much of the book.
There is a significant amount of poetic license but it is fictional so one can get into the story that is woven. It passed the time in the airports and on the planes so i was content.
I have a significant issue around the Epilogue portion of the book so that did affect my rating. If I had to recommend this book or Anne Diamonts "The Red
...more
Jill Klinge
This was a fairly entertaining glimpse at what life must have been like in Mary's time. However, the book was really ruined for me by the epilogue. The author sets forth a "Gospel of Mary" which he treats as true, and it was only after my own research that I found out it was totally fictional. I prefer my historical fiction to be heavier on history and lighter on fiction. I felt a little tricked at the end. If you ignore the epilogue altogether I give it 3 1/2 stars, but would read it as pure fi ...more
Debra Dabell
Feb 24, 2014 Debra Dabell rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Loved this story of Mary's early life.
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Marek Halter was born in Poland in 1936. During World War II, he and his parents narrowly escaped from the Warsaw ghetto. After a time in Russia and Uzbekistan, they emigrated to France in 1950. There Halter studied pantomime with Marcel Marceau and embarked on a career as a painter that led to several international exhibitions. In 1967, he founded the International Committee for a Negotiated Peac ...more
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