Leaving Bethany

Book and Blog review of ‘Leaving Bethany’ by Susan Sutherland

I have always been curious about the relationships between Martha’s family in Bethany and Jesus, as recounted in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Personally, reflecting on the gospel account of Martha buzzing around and fretting, whilst Mary sits at Jesus’ feet (having chosen the better way), I always identified more with Martha, and in my 20’s, I took the name of Martha as my confirmation name.

The home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, attracted Jesus and has always attracted me.

When I heard about this book by Susan Sutherland, it was one I had to buy and put at the top of my pile. And I have loved it!

The author, like all good historical fiction writers, takes all that is known from Biblical, cultural and historical documents and colours it in with life and credibility. It was exquisite to explore Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives and Bethany with Martha and to get to know Mary, Lazarus, Jesus and his followers, and even some of her neighbours. I loved the ordinary beauty and details of every day life, which brings depth and personality to the life behind the scenes of the gospel accounts.

It was especially wonderful to continue Martha’s journey, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to follow her and the other disciples as persecution forced the early Church to scatter and spread throughout the neighbouring lands.

Susan’s writing is moving and thoughtful and I found myself jotting down some beautiful and thought provoking imagery, painted with her words. Such as this, immediately after the death of Lazarus, when Martha said “A thousand sensations shattered the silence.”

No wonder Jesus wept.

I cried, I laughed; I became enraged and enamoured and like Martha, I did not want to leave Bethany.

I am delighted to learn that there is also a sequel coming, so I can find out what became of Martha, her family and the other followers of the way.

Thank you Susan for bringing these beloved characters – even Jesus – to life for me in a new way.

If you would like to buy a copy of the book……

The book can be bought from Yorkshire Publishing Direct  https://www.ypdbooks.com/religious-and-spirituality/1791-leaving-bethany–YPD02537.html

Or via the author’s website page – https://leavingbethany.com/

Susan Sutherland also writes a fascinating blog in the form of ‘interviews’ between a ‘Roman journalist,’ Aemilia Metella, and female characters of the New Testament. This is a similar style of narrative non-fiction to ‘Leaving Bethany’ – where the bare-bones and spirit of all we know of factually and historically is fleshed out into a very plausible and probable narrative.

I include a link here to her latest ‘interview’ with Phoebe, who was a benefactor of Paul and delivered an important letter from Paul to the church in Rome.

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