Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Day I Met Jesus, by Mary de Muth and Frank Viola: a book review

I was blessed with a preview copy of The Day I Met Jesus and devoured it in almost one sitting. (I'm now rereading it more slowly, picking up on other thoughts and studying different aspects of the stories.)

It has an intriguing format: Mary de Muth writes the stories of five different women who encountered Jesus, with each story being followed by a thoughtful, relevant commentary by Frank Viola.

The five women are the woman caught in adultery; a prostitute who dared express her love for Jesus; the Samaritan woman at the well, who had experienced multiple divorces, longing to find meaning and purpose in life; the outcast woman who had chronic bleeding; the woman who sat at Jesus' feet, taking on the role of a male disciple.

Mary de Muth brings these women to life, giving us insight into where these women were coming from, Who has not been paralysed, at times, by a sense of loneliness, emptiness and desperation, as the woman caught in adultery would have felt as she faced certain death? We can all identify with these feelings of desolation, when there seems no way out and sin beckons. We shudder as we read, recognising that, in a myriad of different ways, we too could allow ourselves to be tempted into sin. Mary de Muth clothes these simple accounts with fascinating detail, taking the reader back to life in first century in Jerusalem.

Frank Viola then, after each story, opens it up with Biblical interpretation.He gives a modern and relevant commentary on the passage, inviting us to respond. We are encouraged and affirmed as he helps us apply these familiar stories to our own lives.

At the end of the book - 'Talking It Over' - there are discussion questions for each chapter which can be used in a  group setting; and footnotes for each chapter, too.

This book reminds me of another favourite, 'Chasing Francis' by Ian Morgan Cron. The combination of Biblical narrative and Bible study is powerful enough as it is, but focusing on women's stories in a world where many women are still abused and disenfranchised is empowering. Jesus loved them; he loves us too, just the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment