Monday, April 24, 2017
Alabaster by Chris Aslan
Have you ever wondered about the background of sisters Mary and Martha? What events and struggles may have shaped their personalities? Chris Aslan has created a fascinating back story for these sisters (Marta and Mariam in his retelling) and their brother, Eliazar. Alabaster immerses the reader in the life, culture and some of the struggles of women in Bible times.
In Aslan's book, sisters Marta and Mariam have grown up without their mother, having only the woven rugs she created to remember her by. Managing the household included weaving and selling rugs as well as taking care of the family's olive grove. Until the fateful day when their father must choose between compassion and self-preservation. The decision he makes alters the course of their future.
Meanwhile, their brother Eliazar does little to offer any practical help. Immersed in his studies and all too quick to point out his sister's failures to uphold every last part of the law, a wedge begins to grow between the family. Eliazar is soon drawn away from home leaving his sisters without male protection. As a result, Mariam falls prey to the unwanted advances of a young man in her community.
The despair, poverty and lack of options for young women of the time is truly heart-breaking. In the midst of their struggles, the sisters meet the gentle, wise and loving teacher, Jesus. A man so unlike any other they have met. Marta and Mariam learn about a heavenly Father's love for them and that changes everything.
Alabaster offers a fresh perspective on the ministry of Jesus and his impact on those around him, I highly recommend this deeply moving book! As a word of caution, I would suggest an adult audience due to references to marital relations, domestic abuse, and violent forms of punishment for law breakers (accurate for the time period, but disturbing nonetheless).
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Alabaster from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.