A new book about the life of Mary Magdalene was released this week in her hometown Magdala, Israel. The author, Jennifer Ristine, spent four years as a tour guide in the ancient Galilean town, which is the site of an ongoing archaeological project.
A press release from Magdala announced the release of Mary Magdalene — Insights from Ancient Magdala which contains research, dialogue and answers to questions from countless visitors to Magdala. Through archaeological discoveries, historical texts, scriptural sources, and a survey of traditions, Jennifer Ristine offers a representation of the figure and importance of Mary Magdalene.
The book unveils the mystery of Mary Magdalene’s life. Jennifer Ristine said that “for the last four years, I have fielded questions about Mary Magdalene and Magdala’s history and archaeology as I served in ancient Magdala, giving tours to countless visitors and offering interviews to the media. Hearing tour guides and visitors share multiple theories about her and ask many questions I thought it was time to offer a general survey that clarified what is known and what is developed thought, reflecting on the theories also in the light of faith.”
Mary Magdalene — Insights from Ancient Magdala also features artwork that breaks with many traditional European imagery that portrays Mary Magdalene as blond and Caucasian. The illustrator, Danielle Storey, sought a more realistic look of Mary Magdalene, inspired by the people in the Middle East, with darker hair and complexion as well as Middle Eastern facial features.
The narrative and illustrations give a new inside-out-perspective of a first century Mary Magdalene. Jennifer Ristine also offers food for thought on the relevance of Mary Magdalene for the contemporary world. “Mary Magdalene speaks of the value of being accepted and unconditionally loved, of hope for a brighter future, and of the important role that women play in sharing the good news.”