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Two Women Of Galilee [Hardcover]

By Mary Rourke (Author)
Our Price $ 18.66  
Retail Value $ 21.95  
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Item Number 21462  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.3" Width: 5.6" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2006
Publisher   Steeple Hill Books
ISBN  0778323749  
EAN  9780778323747  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this stunning debut novel, journalist Mary Rourke offers a vivid panorama of life in first-century Galilee, with visits to the decadent splendor of Herod's court in Tiberias and Pontius Pilate's opulent governor's palace in Jerusalem. Creating a richly imagined life for Joanna, a follower of Jesus mentioned briefly in the New Testament, Rourke offers a newe perspective on the world's most celebrated woman-- Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary, Jesus's mother, and Joanna, the wife of a steward of Herod Antipas, Galilee's ruler, are the heroines of Rourke's first novel, a gentle tale with a respectable mix of suspense, murder and romance. As Joanna searches for a cure for her failing health, she hears of a miracle worker, Jesus, and decides to ask his mother to arrange a meeting. Joanna's encounter with Jesus results in her physical healing, a bright new faith and a growing closeness to Mary. Unfortunately, her alliance with the Miracle Man creates political problems for her husband, Chuza. When it becomes clear that someone is poisoning Chuza, one suspect is Joanna, whose new circumstances take her through many of the recorded events of Christ's life, including His death, burial and resurrection. Romance blooms as Nicodemus, a secret follower of Jesus, shows more than a passing interest in the widowed Mary. The conclusion puts a new spark into Joanna's life and is sure to put a smile on the face of readers fond of cozy historicals.

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More About Mary Rourke

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary   [79254  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical   [11224  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > Biblical   [410  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Creative historical fiction  Apr 1, 2010
I wasn't sure quite what to expect after finding this book in a bargain bin at the store. It looked intriguing enough, So I picked it up. It's a nice story told in first-person perspective by a woman briefly mentioned in the Bible. Since this is entirely in her POV, much of what led to Jesus' death is omitted, so if you're looking for a book about Jesus, look elsewhere. It was a fairly quick but enjoyable read for me, though I wish this book could have gone with a bit more description, some of the parts felt dry and it was hard for me to actually imagine their surroundings or what they were wearing due to the sparsness of description.
Brilliant speculation  May 20, 2006
Mary Rourke has contributed to an important area of biblical studies by her speculation as to the relationship between Jesus' mother, Mary, and a steward to the court of Harod Antipas. This biblical area was heretofore a vacuum, and it seems entirely appropriate to hypothesize a situation that will surely bring not only much discussion, but likely formal theological theories.

An underlying issue involves the interrelation betwen the Hebrew/Aramaic "traditional" Torah followers and the Greek/Roman Hellenistic Jews of Jesus' time. Clearly, Joanna, the steward's wife, is of the latter ilk, but biblical theologians debate over which camp Mary and Jesus belonged to. Put another way, the interaction between these two groups is largely unknown and open to speculation. Rourke, though, does not address the messy problem of this catagorization, but neither does the New Testament, which, for example, ignores the obvious language problem (except for Acts 6)and has lots of dialog between Greek and Aramaic speaking people. That is, Rourke circumvents the problem by treating these Jewish people as monolithic in order to get the story across.

The story is based on 17 verses in the NT, each expanded into a chapter, and each potentially historically accurate. Jesus, here is a wonder-worker and teacher, not yet said to be the Messiah, the Son of God, or the Logos, all of which would come elsewhere. As a result, it is hard to find anything in the story offensive to Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or Jew. Herod Antipas, however, remains an especially bad guy.
A Keeper  Apr 14, 2006
This novel, is a joy to be sure and one I will gladly read again.
To take one verse that mentions someone in the company of Jesus, grows into a tale of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness.
A fresh look at a pivotal period in Christian history  Mar 8, 2006
During our busy "boomer" generation, biblical scholarship has increased by quantum leaps, thanks to major discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls and scientific breakthroughs like carbon dating and DNA analysis. And while we may not know much more than we ever did about the inner lives of a vast sea of human beings who collectively built this great scriptural narrative of Judaeo-Christian faith, there is much more raw data around today for scholars to argue over and the rest of us to imagine with.

Mary Rourke, former fashion-writer turned theology student (earning a second-career Divinity degree from Yale, no less!), was inspired by the kind of biblical details scholars barely have time for in our present information-clogged age. She did what most of us do when tiny details pique our curiosity --- she asked herself questions, and she imagined like crazy. But she also went a big step further and gave those imaginative musings feet.

The result is her engaging and poignant first novel, TWO WOMEN OF GALILEE, a wholly fictional but knowledge-based account of the all-but-accidental relationship between the widowed Mary, mother of Jesus, and her distant cousin Joanna --- Mary, well known at the beginning and end of Jesus' life but hardly considered in between, and Joanna, whose branch of the family had "gone over" to the Romans and become well off in middle management circles at mad Herod's court. An unlikely pairing, if you go only by the "givens" of the Gospel accounts.

At first glance, the novelist's pickings might seem as sparse as a field harvested right to the corners --- a practice frowned on by Hebrew tradition, as it left too little for widows and orphans to glean for survival. But Rourke daringly took up her concentrated theological education and stirred into it a contemporary woman's questions and passions, with a result that is sometimes tentative and a little awkward, but for the far greater part movingly thoughtful and perceptive.

She does not try to give Mary or Joanna any form of imposed Middle Eastern or historical "accent," either in thought or word, but cuts right to the meat of a story about a typical (though undocumented) encounter between Jesus and one of the untold numbers healed by his touch. For Joanna, her miraculous healing is no happily-ever-after tale, but is instead the starting point of a challenging spiritual and emotional pilgrimage that draws her from the pampered life of a Roman colonial socialite into the uncertain but fulfilling role of female disciple.

It's no surprise that a story involving the mother of Jesus and her female companions should end up at the foot of the cross, but Rourke's engaging glimpse into shadowy places barely mentioned by the Bible's male recorders makes for a credible and honestly fresh look at this pivotal period in early Christian history. TWO WOMEN OF GALILEE has been beautifully timed to accompany both seekers and those of long-held faith through the just-begun journey of Lent.

--- Reviewed by Pauline Finch (
intriguing look at first century Judea  Mar 4, 2006
Since her twelfth birthday when she caught a chill rushing into the cold water to greet her father returning home, consumption has wracked Joanna. She knows though she wishes otherwise that she cannot keep apace with her husband Chuza, Chief Steward to The Tetrarch of Galilee Herod Antipas. She would spend many months resting in their luxurious home in Sepphoris while Chuza worked in Tiberius serving the monarch.

A new hope for a cure that her father and her spouse were unable to buy with their wealth springs up when she learns of the miracle healing of a local Jew, her second cousin Jesus of Nazareth. She has seen him once from a distance as his family cut off Joanna's family for turning their back on Jewish law and embracing the Roman system. Seeking a miracle Joanna decides to ask her estrange Cousin Mary to intercede on her behalf with her son. The two cousins turn into close friends and Joanna becomes a follower of Jesus. When Herod and the Roman Governor Pilate decide to end the growing legend of a Messiah, Joanna is at odds with her husband and his boss.

This is an intriguing look at first century Judea during the time that the government (Roman and Jewish) was becoming increasingly alarmed with the spreading reputation of Jesus. The story line is told from the perspective of Joanna, who is an actual person "footnoted" in the New Testament. Through her eyes, her growing soul searching awareness, and her friendship with Mary, readers obtain a strong glimpse at the most famous mother of them all. Mary Rourke provides an intriguing work of biblical fiction that fans of Anita Diamant will want to read.

Harriet Klausner

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