Showing Mary: How Women can Share Prayers. Wisdom and the Blessings of God

By Renita J. Weems
Warner. 2002. 194 pp. $12.95. ISBN 0-446-53066-2

— Review by Lillian McCulloch Taylor

In Showing Mary, Vanderbilt biblical scholar Renita Weems has claimed Mary, the mother of Jesus, for Protestants — and especially for women. Weems views Mary not as a pious, passive woman, but as a strong, vibrant individual. Following the biblical text closely, Weems lays out her portrait of the mother of the divine son.

Weems sees Mary as startled — but open to the angels’ astonishing message: “You will be with child and give birth to a son . . . Jesus.” Innocent — yes — but realistic: “How can this be?” Alongside the biblical narrative, Weems connects Mary’s experience with the experience of all women. Weems is in tune with women in contemporary life, and she offers insights into Mary’s experience that relate also to the experience of today’s woman. She calls this “spiritual gestation” — outgrowing an old self, becoming a new self.

A theme that runs throughout the book is the importance of “co-journeyers” — the ones who walk the way with us. The angel pointed out to Mary her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary came as much to support Elizabeth, who had been in seclusion her first six months, as to pull wisdom from her. Weems suggests that we need to go find our Elizabeths.

Weems points out that an important clue to understanding Mary is to understand the Magnificat. It is important, not only for what it tells us about God, but also for what it tells us about Mary. It speaks eloquently of her passion and her compassion; and about her joy at what God was doing for her and for others. Surely Mary danced as she sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

This reviewer found Showing Mary to be a powerful little book with many “aha” moments. Weems has done an amazing job in relating Mary and her experience to the experience of all women. It calls women to share prayers, wisdom and the blessings of God.