Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: "Memorial: The Mystery of Mary of Bethany" by Dolores Kimball

Dolores Kimball's Memorial: The Mystery of Mary of Bethany dives deep into the story of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  Kimball explains that Mary is one of four people in the Bible that Jesus personally commended (5).  This 120 page book thoroughly researches everything surrounding this woman: where she was mentioned in the Bible, other related stories, and even common misconceptions about who she was.

The most fascinating part of the book was Kimball's explanation of the significance of anointing Jesus for burial.  Jesus tried to tell his disciples that he would suffer, but they did not want to believe.  However, Mary's eyes were opened to the truth that Jesus would die, and her faith led her to use the ointment that was reserved for Jesus' burial day.  Kimball also did a great job of explaining other translations and meanings of the words used in passages, such as explaining that "Jesus' burial day" didn't actually mean the day he was buried - simply near that time.

Chapters were broken into sections that looked into passages from the Bible mentioning Mary, other instances in the Bible that were similar in some way, and life applications, though some sections had a mix of those elements.

The life application-type sections did not hold my interest.  These sections often begin with or include a universal statement, like "for many women", "we have to admit", "if we're honest with ourselves," which felt insincere in their attempt to be all-encompassing.  I was distracted by passages of sweeping generalizations about what challenges the modern woman in her faith journey.  For example, there is almost two pages detailing the life of a "typical Christian woman": "So she says a quick prayer for her family, tosses down her morning jolt of caffeine, and charges into her day like a Thoroughbred out of the starting gate" (12).

The tidbits that explained Biblical significance in words and actions made it a worthwhile read, and I really do feel like I better understand the passages that previously I would've rushed over without giving a second thought.  However, the book was hard to get in to and hard to keep reading.  For those reasons, I would treat this book as a resource for if you wanted to lead a Bible study on a related topic, but I would not recommend it for casual reading or as a personal devotional.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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