As a recent convert to the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic folds, I’ve been questioned about my understanding of Jesus’ mother more than practically anything else. My Protestant brothers and sisters are often genuinely puzzled at certain Orthodox and Catholic practices and apparent beliefs. Perhaps from now on I’ll simply recommend they read this book if they’re open to it, rather than have me try to explain.
The Real Mary was very easy to read and touched upon so many of the things we can agree upon about Jesus’ Momma. The book dove deeply into scripture to get a sense of where Mary was coming from as a young Jewish girl in the first century. From there it allowed us to imagine how strange Jesus’ approach to being the Messiah must have seemed to her and the other disciples. These are very important things to consider when examining what we know about her from the Gospel narratives.
What really struck me however was when Dr. McKnight turned to the many things about which various Christian communities have come to disagree regarding Mary. What genuine love and gentleness has shone through here! Going even further he couples that with a true desire to put those he disagrees with in the best possible light. In essence he has taken great strides toward tearing down the walls of suspicion that have been built during the past five centuries between Protestants and Orthodox/Catholics. What a gift you have been to us Dr. McKnight!
Jesus and The Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah” he explains that without an understanding of Mary and Jesus’ Jewishness, we as post-modern westerners have little chance of understanding them.
It is interesting that I read Dr. Pitre’s book about the same time I visited the Holy Land. Our Pastor on that journey encouraged us to read O’Brien and Richard’s book “Misunderstanding Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible”.
All three of these books affected me profoundly as I toured the Holy Land where everything seems to make scripture pop and come alive. While I certainly cannot completely remove my western tinted glasses or climb into the heart and soul of a first century Jew, these writings took me a few steps in that direction.
The common denominator in all three of these works is a tearing down of the walls of hostility between the various strains of the Christian faith. There seems to be a genuine desire for true dialogue and understanding and I for one welcome it. It seems extremely timely considering the world we live in today. I believe building bridges between the various Christian denominations is more important now than ever, which is why I have been experimenting with tiny ways of doing that and writing about it in the “Building Bridges” section.
I think the Mother of Jesus would approve of these books as well. After all, if God is our Father and Jesus is our brother then in a sense we are all her spiritual children. Mommas love it when their kids get along.
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