MARY by Shol Asch
Kirkus Star


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**This is a great book in the tradition of its predecessors, The Nazarene and The Aposile, and many will find it easier reading than either of these. Rooted in scholarship, in thorough absorption in place and period, this story of the Mother of Jesus succeeds in keeping Mary (or Miriam as she is called in the Hebrew tradition) at the core, the heart of the whole. We first meet her when Joseph, returning from the self-imposed exile his branch of the family endured, to Nazareth, seeking a wife from the House of David, meets her and asks her hand. Almost simultaneously there comes to her the revelation of the role she is chosen to play- and in very human terms, the challenge, the exaltation, the inevitable repercussions and attendant problems are presented. Joseph stands by his determination to make her his wife, and sees himself- for the period of her carrying the child destined to become the Messiah, as her protector and guardian. Then come the years of Jesus' childhood, his place in the school, in the village, in the family; his first journey to Jerusalem where he accepts the mission that is to be his; his earthly father's death and his period of waiting for the voice in the wilderness. Finally, his brief months of fulfilling the pledge with its attendant sorrow, joy, acceptance, rejection -- death and resurrection. But always the story is told in terms of Mary, his mother, and her maternal and human devotion is shown in conflict with her recognition of the sacrifice she must make in the cause of God and all humanity. A reverent handling of a great subject, with moments of inspiration, with close adherence to the main thread of the Gospel story, as well as selection from parts of the apocrypha. From the point of view of the ultimate reader, it is perhaps important for book sellers and librarians to know that, -- first, this book reveals the deep roots of the Christian faith in Jewish tradition, and second, that- in the presentation of Jesus and Mary as integral members of a human family, -- the book may cause controversy and rejection in certain fairly obvious quarters. But- as in the case of the earlier books- it will be a sure success, one of the predictable best sellers of the months ahead. Tie in with the other two, as The Nazarene and The Apostle come chronologically after Mary, for those who have not already discovered them for themselves.... Tremendous backing of advertising and publicity will help launch a book that will go far on its own merits. A fine translation which reflects the sensitive oneness of theme and handling.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1949
Publisher: Putnam