Chapter four of The Real Mary is subtitled “Woman of Danger.” How many of us really think of Mary as a woman of danger? James Bond is an international man of danger, right? Does Mary hold a candle to 007? McKnight suggests she does because of her claim that her son Jesus was born to be king. This suggestion rivals the claims to power held by Herod and Augustus, the emperor.
Far too long we have held the image of the “nice” Mary. McKnight constructs the reason we have this image:
- Roman Catholic teaching emphasizes Mary’s perfection.
- Mary’s gentle presence on Christmas cards and within creches.
- The portraits of Mary as a, “somber, sober, white-faced, emotionless image…”
McKnight describes the real Mary as far more revolutionary and dangerous. She told the story of a new king. She looked at Augustus and rejected his claims as savior. In the Roman empire when Augustus seized power, bringing pax Romana, Augustus was hailed as the savior of the empire. This rise to power was heralded as good news/gospel. Yet, as the ancient historian Tacitus once said, “Rome creates a wilderness and call it peace.” The peace of Rome is a transient violent creation and is only good news to those who are in power. Mary stands in the face of this mock-peace and says, there’s a new savior in the empire. The good news is an announcement that true peace comes, not under the boot of the Roman Legion, but through the life of an extraordinary person named Jesus. Yet this was a dangerous place to be. It is still a dangerous place to be.