Author: Paula K. Parker

ISBN: 978-1-78078-050-4

 

The Bible is written with such succinct brevity, it leaves room for  imagination. We might wonder what was said in an entire conversation, what people looked like, and what customs and traditions were behind certain actions. In Sisters of Lazarus, Paula K. Parker turns her imagination into a story about the lives of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead.

We know from Scripture that Jesus was friends with this family and that He stopped in to visit and dine with them. We also know there was a conflict on one occasion between the two sisters, because Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was leaving all the dinner preparations to her while she sat leisurely enjoying listening to Jesus’ teaching. (Luke 10:38-42)


The first chapter of Sisters of Lazarus opens with a major conflict between Mary and Martha. Mary returns home from the market with a mirror. This sets off an argument that ends when Martha slaps Mary so hard across the face, she knocks her to the floor and gives her a bruise. At this point, older brother Lazarus comes home and commands Mary to apologize to Martha for “making” her lash out in anger. It seems Mary has quite a reputation for being a little prima donna and the two older siblings have had enough of it. Personally, I never envisioned Mary as the spoiled baby of the family, especially since Jesus praised her for giving priority to spiritual desires over the mundane. I also never envisioned Mary as petite and pretty, and Martha as large and homely. But then, who’s to say? This is fiction, so the character development is author’s choice.

My favorite part of the book is the authentic customs that are woven into the story. For example, in Chapter 5 “Consecrated”: “Since his childhood Lazarus had known that most marriages were nothing more than a business contract between families or a treaty between kingdoms. The marriages were arranged by parents—with the bride and groom often not meeting until their betrothal—such as his uncle’s marriage to Naomi the daughter of a member of the Sanhedrin. Occasionally, however, a young man might be allowed to express his desire for a particular woman…

 “Ahhh, Lazarus thought, suppressing a smile, now I understand his (the uncle’s) excitement. If I couldn’t marry his daughter, this marriage is equally acceptable. Through my marriage, he will be related to Rabbi Nicodemus. Joktan fetched a wooden box with his writing implements and several blank sheets of parchment and the two men spent the afternoon discussing the mohar, the gift given to the bride’s father.”

Ultimately, this is a story about two women who struggle with self-worth, a timeless and timely issue. The author hopes that in reading, each woman will discover her own beauty in the eyes of the Lord.

Recommended for those who enjoy biblical fiction.

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