Book Review: Mary, Martha and Me

May 12, 2015


Mary, Martha and Me
Camille Fronk Olson
96 pages
hard copy edition

From the Publisher:
In this brief and engaging work on Jesus’ interactions with Mary and Martha of Bethany, Olson shows her chops as a professor of biblical studies (she teaches at Brigham Young University), paying very close attention to the gospel texts. She begins with the famous story of Mary of Bethany sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him teach, while her sister Martha bustled about and was “cumbered about much serving.” But Mary, Olson cautions, did not choose the “better” part by eschewing housework for study, but rather “that good part.” Neither path is better than the other, Olson says; for both women, one thing was needed: to fully embrace truth and serve Christ. Olson contextualizes the story with first-century customs and religious observations, relating it to other narratives about Lazarus’s death and resurrection as well as Mary’s controversial anointing of Jesus with spikenard. Olson mixes the biblical explorations with stories from her own life, including her relationship with her grandmother (who comes across as at once tender and formidable). Although this book is intended for an audience of Mormon women and draws occasionally on the Book of Mormon and the teachings of LDS leaders, it deserves a wider readership for its fresh and thoughtful rendering of familiar New Testament stories.

This book sat on my nightstand for a very long time before I finally got around to reading it during my read-a-thon weekend.  It was a good book. I often struggle thinking about what is more important – being a Mary or a Martha.  If you know me, you know sitting and listening is something I really have to work at. I like to be busy, I like to serve. But I think the point of the book was to remember that neither were wrong.  Mary and Martha were both doing important things and that we need to be a little like both of them.

I think we as women (or maybe just me) need to remember that for the most part, we are all trying our best and we are all trying hard to do what we feel is the better part, or the good.  I think that is pointed out in this book too. 

There are a lot of scriptural references and explanations. I am not a scriptorian and it’s good for me to read books like this every once in a while to stretch myself and learn a little bit more.

I think this is a good book, and recommend it if you are interested in women in the scriptures and how we can all be better at serving each other and growing closer to Christ.  The book is written by a BYU professor, but I think all Christian woman would enjoy this book.
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