The Testament of Mariam
Shakenoak Press 2014
In a town in eastern Gallia, circa 65 AD, an old woman learns that she has lost the last of her siblings, a man she has not seen for thirty years. The news propels her back into memories of her past as Mariam, the rebellious young daughter of a carpenter in Galilee and her experiences with her family, including her oldest brother, YeshÃ»a–the New Testament’s Jesus of Nazareth.
YeshÃ»a struggles to find his place and his mission in Roman-occupied Judah, a hotbed of unrest where Galileans are especially suspect. For a while, he lives among the Essenes, where he masters their medical knowledge, but after a year he realizes that his low social standing limits his advancement within the order. The Essenes’ philosophy is, in any case, too restrictive for him. YeshÃ»a returns home, determined to aid the poor as a healer and a teacher. But his neighbors, and even his own family, have little sympathy for YeshÃ»a in this new role. So he sets off on a journey that will lead him to the Sea of Galilee and on to Jerusalem and a fateful confrontation with Roman power. Throughout this journey with all its doubts, failures, and successes, he is accompanied by Mariam and her betrothed, who is also her brother YeshÃ»a’s best friend, YehÃ»dÃ¢ Kerioth–Judas Iscariot.
In lucid and captivating prose, Ann Swinfen traces the story of YeshÃ»a the Galilean as he and his sister Mariam travel through the first-century Levant in pursuit of his destiny. The Testament of Mariam (Shakenoak Press, 2014) contrasts this story with the heroine’s life in old age to present new and compelling insights into the familiar Gospel story.