cover image According to Mary Magdalene

According to Mary Magdalene

Marianne Fredriksson. Hampton Roads Publishing Company, $21.95 (235pp) ISBN 978-1-57174-120-2

A top-selling author in her native Sweden and in Germany, Fredrikssen here departs dramatically from her recent contemporary fiction (Hanna's Daughters) to take on the foundation of Christianity, as told from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. Though this work proposes to represent the new subgenre of ""visionary fiction""--novels with spirituality and metaphysics at the core--the story seems best slotted as historical or religious fiction. Full of keening biblical insurgency, the narrative has a decidedly feminist-revisionist ideology: Jesus respected women, and included women in his band of disciples. If only the male disciples had allowed women an equal voice, Christianity would not be as based on myth and law, but rather would focus on self-sufficiency and responsibility, reconciliation and forgiveness. Providing atmospheric background, Fredrikssen fascinates with the behind-the-scenes details of Mary's life: a flaxen-haired Jewish child, orphaned when Greek centurions kill her family, she is rescued by homosexual warrior Leonidas and raised in a house of pleasure. Mary grapples with the nature of Jesus' love in a time when Jew, Greek, Gnostic and Christian vie for understanding. For the uninitiated reader, following the story across the reinvented landscape of Christianity's first century may prove difficult, but for those well-versed in the Gospel it is a stimulating and serious conversation piece. (Mar.)