The Lost Diary of Mary Magdalene

Fiction - Historical - Personage
250 Pages
Reviewed on 04/15/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

The Lost Diary of Mary Magdalene by Johnny Teague explores the possibilities of what if? What if Mary Magdalene had written down her adventures with Jesus and we could get a greater feel of her life and what meeting Jesus and his apostles had done for her? When a foreman on an archaeological dig uncovers a clay jar buried inside an old cistern in Palestine, he is excited that he may have stumbled across something that will get him noticed in the high-brow world of archaeology. What he discovers inside the clay jar will change forever how we remember Mary Magdalene. This diary of a troubled young woman, the daughter of a tax collector, tells of a path of licentiousness and debauchery that almost destroys her and her family. That is, however, until she discovers an itinerant preacher who seems to have a power she had never experienced before. The diary tells of her journey from the small fishing village of Magdala to Jerusalem, witnessing the crucifixion and then the resurrection of her beloved Jesus, as well as the death of her husband at the hands of Emperor Nero, and ultimately her imprisonment for her faith.

The Lost Diary of Mary Magdalene is a whimsical and enjoyable read with an undertone of deep faith. The test of a good historical fiction author is if the reader starts to believe that the story is true and based entirely on fact. As a reader, I became so invested in Mary’s diary, her emotions, her pain, and her hopes that I forgot, for a time, that this was indeed fiction and author Johnny Teague is to be congratulated for that. I particularly appreciated that in this intensely patriarchal Palestinian society, a woman was able to become important and a central part of the entire narrative. Mary was troubled and whether she was possessed by demons or some recognizable mental illness is irrelevant. Whatever afflicted Mary, the decision to follow Jesus and commit her life to his path dragged her back from the dark, lonely road she was traveling. What this story does wonderfully well is to personalize a woman who, although central to the Jesus story, is little known and often pilloried and treated with disdain by many. I particularly enjoyed that it was the women who discovered Jesus had risen, it was the women who believed, and it was the male disciples who couldn’t accept what the women had witnessed, who doubted his resurrection, and who were terrified about what would happen to them if they were caught. For those well-versed in scripture, many of the scenes recounted by Mary in her diary will be familiar. For the non-religious, this is not strictly a Christian story; this is the story of how a young woman overcame her demons (real or imagined) and went on to become a central figure in one of the greatest stories ever told. I loved this book and can highly recommend it.