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Mary of Nazareth

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  613 Ratings  ·  107 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Crown (first published 2006)
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Biblical Fiction
54th out of 174 books — 114 voters
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10th out of 30 books — 1 voter

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,445)
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Mar 04, 2009 Pxl2632 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 23, 2008 Melissa rated it did not like it
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
Aug 19, 2010 Mel rated it really liked it
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
Oct 20, 2009 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
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
Jul 31, 2011 Katy rated it it was ok
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
Jul 08, 2016 Excedente rated it really liked it
Juste génial ! Même si les allusions de l'auteur à la fin du roman m'ont un peu dérangé. Je trouve que cela nous force à quitter l'histoire de Marie pour se plonger trop rapidement dans une autre, celle de l'écrivain.

En tout cas ce sont des livres parfaits en ce qui concerne l'approche de la religion, surtout pour les personnes qui n'y connaissent rien (comme moi XD) .
Erisca Febriani
Feb 14, 2016 Erisca Febriani rated it liked it
One word for this novel; AWESOME.
Because writing historical fiction about biblical figures must be sooo enormously daunting task. And an author who lets his imagination run wild runs the risk of being offensive, while an author who errs on the side of caution runs the risk of boring the reader by rehashing Sunday School stories.
In this novel, Halter chooses a middle ground, creating a pure but not flawless Miriam who’s even allowed a chaste love with one of Barabbas’s followers.
And i really lo
Jul 09, 2008 Jamie rated it did not like it
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
Mar 09, 2015 Khoiriyyah Azzahro rated it really liked it
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
Aug 13, 2015 Charlène rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" En conclusion, Marie restera longtemps dans mon esprit parce qu’il m’aura fascinée en mettant en avant cette femme que j’admire et porte dans mon cœur d’une façon particulière. Elle n’est pas lisse, peut-être pas parfaite mais elle ne s’écarte pas trop de l’image de celle que nous connaissons tous (ou presque), tout en devenant plus humaine, plus… caractérielle, peut-être. On découvre son histoire avec un énorme intérêt, comprenant que certains personnages mentionnés dans les Evangiles sont pl ...more
Aug 12, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this story of Mary. Maybe because I'm familiar with and like the peaceful, pure fairy tale of the young, meek and virginal Mary, an angel incarnate, a humble vessel. In Halter's story, she's fearless, a rebel, not complacent with her role as a woman. She first hides Barrabas, the "thief," then conspires and frees her father from the cross. The book gave good insight to the troubles from the Romans at that time. The book shows Mary - Miriam - as present and part of t ...more
Carol Lueck
Apr 26, 2014 Carol Lueck rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2015 Sandra rated it did not like it
Je suis très dubitative après avoir lu ce livre.

D'une part quant à l'écriture de l'auteur en elle-même, qui est pauvre, simpliste, avec peu de recherche littéraire. Parfois cela me "retire" de l'atmosphère.

D'autre part quant au manque de connaissances historiques de l'auteur. On ne se lance pas dans une fiction historique sans avoir au préalable un minimum de connaissances. Ce qui manque cruellement à l'auteur.

Littérature de train. Médiocre.

De plus le fac-similé d'évangile apocryphe confié par u
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?
Dec 06, 2014 Katy rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 29, 2016 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Gue baca buku ini yang Bahasa Indonesia nya. Ga butuh lama buat selesain sampai habis. Awalnya agak susah ya dipahami, karena gue masih membawa pemahaman gue sendiri dan 'agak menyangkal' cerita fiksi religi begini. Apalagi ini kan diangkat seorang Maria, yah walaupun bukan cerita biasa yang kita kira.
Ceritanya bagus. Tapi ada 1 hal yang kurang gue suka, di beberapa bagian kok kayaknya ga fokus sama tokoh si Maria nya. Memang sih kita butuh sub plot, tapi ya.........gue rasa buku ini akan jauh l
Dec 03, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
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
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
Sep 02, 2010 Ksenia rated it liked it
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
Sep 05, 2010 Wellington rated it liked it

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.
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
Jul 16, 2010 Jennifer Kim rated it really liked it
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
Feb 12, 2016 Haley rated it really liked it
See full review here:

If you haven’t read a Marek Halter book, and you’re a fan of historical fiction–you’re missing out. Really, regardless of your religion, you should pick one up. They are fascinating from a historical perspective, being able to see these holy figures for the actual humans they once were. There’s even a bit of a surprise at the end of Mary, but I won’t give away too much! You’ll just have to go find out yourself.
Sep 03, 2015 Secola rated it liked it
I will give this novel 3.5 stars. I loved the history of Mary of Nazareth when I am so used to another Book. The scenes were nice, the actions of the characters were well developed. It was a good book. It gets 3 stars because of the history and the vivid detail of living in the early Roman Empire and under Herod. It's missing 2 stars because it was slow a lot of times and seemed to be catching up. Also, I know it was just keeping with tradition but there were pages and pages of mourning. I almos ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Mazel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-historique
" 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
Dec 12, 2011 Fabien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Diakiw
May 19, 2014 Jennifer Diakiw rated it liked it
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.
Oct 30, 2014 Juliet-Camille rated it it was ok
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.
Sutzu-Miri Ali
Jun 18, 2015 Sutzu-Miri Ali rated it it was amazing
O varianta interesanta la ceea ce s-a intamplat! Oricum nu avem de unde sa stim ce e adevarat si ce nu, cu toate atestarile Bibliei si puterea Bisericii. Mi-a placut ca te scufunzi in lectura, in acele timpuri. Traiesti si simti cu personajele.
Oct 21, 2014 Maria rated it liked it
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!
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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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“I no longer know what the Lord wants of us... Even what we're doing here seems pointless to me! What's the use of the books I've brought with me? All those bookcases in the house? The things we learn, the things we discuss? Not so long ago, I was convinced that cultivating our minds would help us change the course of this world. I told myself, 'We women should change. Then we might be able to curb the folly of men.' I don't believe that now. As soon as I leave Magdala, as soon as I spend a day in the streets of Tarichea, I get the feeling we're becoming more and more learned and more and more useless.” 0 likes
“What could be more beautiful than this lake, these hills, the flowers on the apple tree? Galilee is beautiful. We are beautiful. You, Miriam, our friends... The Almighty has given us this beauty. Why would he want us to ignore it? On the contrary, we should feed on the joy and happiness he gives us, not just the horrors of Herod!” 0 likes
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