For years, people have speculated about Mary Magdalene and her role in Jesus’ life. While many scholars and enthusiasts have argued that she could have been Jesus’ wife, such theories have been dismissed and even suppressed by the orthodox Christian establishment. But author June Kerr begs to differ with them. In her daring new novel Rabboni, My Love, Kerr envisions Jesus and Mary Magdalene as husband and wife and parents, and as partners in Jesus’ ministry.
Although writing fiction, Kerr has spent years researching the Bible and studying with scholars to recreate her depiction of Jesus and Mary’s life and marriage during the years of his ministry. In the process, Kerr has made a powerful argument for their relationship and the idea that God would want His Son to have a full human experience, which would include love and marriage and fatherhood. The result is a portrait of Jesus and Mary’s lives which no work of nonfiction could ever accomplish.
Using their Jewish names, Joshua and Miriam, Kerr depicts Jesus and Mary as having been happily married for many years and with three children at the time Jesus begins his ministry. Kerr also is well-aware of the creative impulses behind the stories people tell, and how they are often based in one’s life experiences. In Rabboni, My Love, Jesus’ ministry is spurred on by an encounter he has with a Samaritan who saves his life after he is attacked and left to die. This act of kindness becomes the impetus to Jesus understanding how he can spread his message of God’s love to people, fulfilling the ancient prophecies and the promise of a savior that the angels made at his birth.
Throughout the novel, Kerr assembles various incidents of Jesus’ life and his parables to recreate the stories behind the gospels, taking what were often confusing, seemingly contradictory, or simply fragmented pieces of Jesus’ life to sew them into a whole. She also highlights aspects of Jewish life and traditions in the early first century, illuminating details of which Christians today are largely ignorant. I was especially impressed by the conclusions and connections she drew about the various people mentioned in the gospels, many of whom often seem like little more than names to us; insights are given into people like Barabbas and the two thieves who died with Jesus at the Crucifixion, as well as Jesus’ relatives, his family’s roles within society and the Jewish priesthood, and his interactions with the Roman government.
Kerr’s style is moving, especially in the scenes between Mary and Jesus, showing how loving their relationship is. She depicts how as a married couple they praise God by reciting the Psalms together, and how they are true partners in their desire to spread Jesus’ ministry, even when Jesus warns Mary that after he dies, people may turn on her, making her a scapegoat.
Doubtless, religious critics will raise eyebrows, if not complain and condemn Kerr’s book, but she answers their charges in an interview included in the back of the book where she discusses her writing process, research, and reasons for writing Rabboni, My Love, stating:
“The faith, hope, and love that Jesus and Mary lived and taught will never die, but unless the organized church can grasp the wisdom of their way and honor both men and women as full partners in the faith, it seems to continue to dissolve in divisiveness. I hope this story of love and faith will help people of all faiths and of no faith understand the power of love. As Jimi Hendrix said, ‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.’ I hope that day comes soon in each of our lives. I don’t understand why anyone would deny that God could give Jesus a mate as God had given one to Adam, or reject the love story of Jesus and Mary seeking peace on earth.”
Kerr also states that she was inspired to write this book after first hearing stories in France, where she resides part-time, about Mary Magdalene living there. Kerr is currently working on both a prequel and sequel to the novel to complete Mary’s story.
No one may ever know the truth about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but I feel that Kerr offers a very plausible interpretation of their relationship. Plenty of people have written novels about Jesus’ life, and I’ve read several of them, including Anne Rice’s Christ, the Lord series, which I think pales by comparison. No one to my knowledge has tackled the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene or depicted his life with such reverence as well as imagination. I hope readers will be open-minded and read this moving story of faith so they can make up their minds for themselves about Mary Magdalene’s life and relationship with Jesus.
For more information about June Kerr and Rabboni, My Love, visit www.RabboniMyLove.com.