Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Testament of MaryThe Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very well done imagination of what it might have felt like to have been Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Told in the first person, the slim volume (only 81 pages) is beautifully written.  Although the author doesn't explicitly refer to it, this is what Mary might have been thinking when, as the Bible says, "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Traditionalists may be offended because Toibin's Mary is not a Christian; she doesn't even follow the Jewish teachings after her son's death.  There were some strange things that occurred during his life, but she maintains a skeptical stance.  She says that if he died for the sins of the world, it wasn't worth it.  That's the hook that caught me.  Indeed, what mother would be willing to sacrifice her son to die for the sins of the world? And what kind of god have we invented who would demand such a sacrifice?

There are some anomalies in the book.  Toibin's Mary has a 21st century outlook on the role of men and women.  She wears shoes, not sandals.  But the book is very much worth the little bit of time it takes to read it.  Then ponder it in your heart and wonder if Toibin's imagination gets it right.