The Passion of Mary Magdalen: A Novel

The Passion of Mary Magdalen: A Novel

4.8 10
by Elizabeth Cunningham

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“Cunningham weaves Hebrew scripture, Celtic and Egyptian mythology, and early Christian legend into a nearly seamless whole, creating an unforgettable fifth gospel story in which the women most involved in Jesus’s ministry are given far more representation.”—Library Journal

“This year’s must-have summer


“Cunningham weaves Hebrew scripture, Celtic and Egyptian mythology, and early Christian legend into a nearly seamless whole, creating an unforgettable fifth gospel story in which the women most involved in Jesus’s ministry are given far more representation.”—Library Journal

“This year’s must-have summer reading.”—KINK Radio

“Lavish and lusty . . . Cunningham’s Celtic Magdalen is as hot in the mouth as Irish whiskey.”—Beliefnet (chosen as one of this year’s “heretical beach-books”)

“Explodes off the page with its tales of love, hope, power, and redemption—book clubs looking for a great discussion, take note.”—

Editorial Reviews

*Starred Review* Anyone not ensconced in a cave lately has heard the rumor that Mary Magdalene was literally the bride of Christ. The Da Vinci Code (2003) popularized the theory sufficiently to make Magdalene pilgrimages big business in France, where she ostensibly established the French royal family. Magdalene fans are in for more surprises in Cunningham's classy, sexy novel, which embraces the Magdalene's reputation for prostitution to the extent of casting her as a sacred whore serving the goddess Isis. For Cunningham, Mary is Maeve, a big, strapping, redheaded Celt sold into slavery in Rome and bought for her ample charms by a renowned domina (i.e., madam). Cunningham's big book is first an absorbing historical novel about down-and-dirty slave life in Rome and then a visionary fantasy about the Magdalene's life as Jesus' gentile wife. Besides Maeve's endearingly slutty second owner, Paulina, few characters participate in both, but in both are characters well known from other texts; for example, in the first the king of the "golden bough," in the second the Virgin Mary, who, holy though she is, is also quite dotty. Cunningham's wild, breakneck style only cements the suspicion that this will be--besides snapped up by Magdalene fans, Celtophiles, feminists, and lovers of a good yarn--controversial. Those unready for lesbianism and sex with the Redeemer between the same covers may blanch as well as flush.
Library Journal
In Daughter of the Shining Isles, her first volume of "The Maeve Chronicles," Cunningham introduced the reader to an unusual sort of Mary Magdalen, a wild Celtic girl named Maeve who fell desperately in love with a young man she called Esus. After preventing Esus's sacrifice in a druidic ritual and sending him back to Israel, Maeve was exiled from her island home, captured by Romans, and sold into slavery. This second volume picks up the story at this point, following Maeve through her time of slavery and her journey with benefactor Joseph of Arimathea to Galilee, where she is reunited with her beloved Esus, now known as Jesus. Though intentional on Cunningham's part, anachronistic references to Las Vegas, coffee klatches, and high fives may leave some readers a bit disoriented. That quibble aside, Cunningham weaves Hebrew scripture, Celtic and Egyptian mythology, and early Christian legend into a nearly seamless whole, creating an unforgettable fifth gospel story in which the women most involved in Jesus's ministry are given far more representation than found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Recommended for public libraries where there is an interest in Celtic or early church mythologies. [For a more traditional portrait, see Angela Hunt's Magdalene, reviewed in the Christian Fiction column on p. 74; coming in August is Kathleen McGowan's The Expected One (Touchstone Fireside), the first of a trilogy of thrillers about Mary Magdalene.-Ed.]-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Monkfish Book Publishing Company
Publication date:
Maeve Chronicles
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Barnes & Noble
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911 KB

Read an Excerpt

Elizabeth Cunningham is the author of the novels The Return of the Goddess and The Wild Mother. She comes from nine generations of Episcopal priests. Though she managed to avoid becoming an Episcopal priest, she was ordained as an interfaith minister of spiritual counsel in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She balances writing with a counseling practice.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Cunningham is the direct descendant of nine generations of Episcopal priests. When she was not in church or school, she read fairytales and fantasy novels or wandered in the enchanted wood of an overgrown, abandoned estate next door to the rectory. Her religious background, the magic of fairytales, and the numinous experience of nature continue to inform her work.

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The Passion of Mary Magdalen: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Rosemary_Margaret More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a novel in such a long time where the author portrayed characters in full color. For Mary Magdalene fans, for those who would like all of the above, for those who want to incorporate somewhat accurately the myths with the history and most of all, those who know Mary Magdalene. . . a must read. May I suggest that you read them in the order mean't to be. I couldn't put them down and read them in about a weeks time. I have done a fair amount of research on Magdalene and Elizabeth Cunningham has her characters, Mary, Paul of Tarsus, and Sarah down pat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tired of pious, one-dimensional, suitably repentant Mary Magdalens who sit at the feet of the Master, worshipfully gazing upward? Wish our Mary Magdalen had a bit more, um, spice and verve? Well, let there be much rejoicing and dancing in the streets: Elizabeth Cunningham¿s novel about her fiery Celtic Mary Magdalen (whose name is really Maeve, thank you very much) has hit the bookshelves. At last we get to read more about this passionate and uppity heroine who reminds us that the Divine Feminine is the true partner and equal of the Son of Man, and who delivers a rousing antidote to the cultural shame around being a woman. The Passion of Mary Magdalen is so much more than just a great read (although it's such a page-turner you¿ll wish it could go on forever): it is a whole-body experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cunningham writes a remarkable historical fiction about little known Mary Magdalen. Well researched and inventive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a total delight from start to finish. I savored eah word, hating for it to end. But end it did, and in the most magical way possible. I cannot wait for volume 3 in this series. Cunningham's obvious theological knowledge gives a delightfully colorful picture of people and times in the days of Jesus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JulzJZ More than 1 year ago
Everything that Cunningham wrote took you into the world of jesus. The sights the smells the book is a full body experience that keeps you guessing and wondering where the next turn takes you. Mary Magdalene has a voice that will captivate you and make you upset that they cut her out of the gospels, and that her own gospel has been hidden from us. <3 Great read I recommend it to anyone, except people that expect it to be the Bible&hellip;
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In Rome the slave trader auctions off big ¿Red¿, who insists her name is Maeve Rhuard and that she is daughter to warrior witches. Though beaten and raped and kept in chains the Celtic female has quite a mouth in five languages. The Domina buys Red to serve in her stable as a whore. --- As she learns her trade, her red hair in two places and larger than life size attract customers, Maeve reflects on her lost love Esus, a man whose life she saved his life at the cost of her own. Shockingly she also meets in her visions a despondent Isis, who wonders if her time is coming to an end. Once freed, Maeve heads to Palestine seeking her Esus while also becoming a priestess-whore at the Temple of Isis Magdala, which thanks to her skills soon becomes known to its customers as Temple Magdalen, the hottest workhouse in the Galilee. One day soon she will serve a special client in more ways than one. --- Mary Magdalena¿s reputation as a whore is used as the basis for a deep biographical fiction novel that brings to life the first century Mediterranean area especially in Rome and in Palestine. Maeve is a terrific protagonist from the moment she calls potential buyers names and never slows down until the final fig tree jamboree with the Gospels. Ironically though many will condemn Elizabeth Cunningham¿s work as blasphemy and irreverent, the well written and entertaining THE PASSION OF MARY MAGDALEN is actually virtuous, spiritual and relevant as God¿s tent is inclusive with room for everyone. --- Harriet Klausner