From Publishers Weekly
Father Andrew Greeley is well known for his sometimes spicy murder mysteries and his always progressive view of religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. It comes as no surprise that he would pen this delightful exploration of Jesus' relationships with women. Focusing largely on the parables, the book brings fresh meaning to these familiar stories, infusing them with what Greeley terms "the good news of a Great Surprise," the marvelous revelation of God's love and acceptance of women in a largely male-dominated society. Many of the women are unnamed—the Samaritan woman, the woman at the well, etc.—and some are named, like Mary of Magdala, who may have had a romantic relationship with Jesus. Greeley is certainly a prolific author—he's written some 50 works of fiction and more than 100 works of nonfiction—and this book illustrates why he is so popular. He takes the familiar—in this case, the parables of Jesus—and infuses it with new life and meaning. He leaves behind the dour, solemn proclamations of the church fathers and reminds us that "Jesus delights in surprising those he loves." In fact, Greeley's observations go far beyond Jesus' relationships with women, reminding us that God's love extends to even the least of us. (Mar.)
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Those who consider Greeley the novelist as an unacquirable taste and Greeley the sociologist as an argument that economics isn't the only dismal science may find Greeley the homilist quite something else. Jesus, he says, is best viewed as a surprise and a constant surpriser, from the Annunciation to the Resurrection and beyond, when he appeared to many of his followers as at first unrecognizable and then, suddenly, as the risen Christ. Equally surprising for his ethnicity-, class-, and gender-hierarchalized place and time, he revealed himself risen first to a woman. That, however, Greeley says, wasn't surprising for Jesus, whose relations with women, reviewed in the heart of the book, were, Greeley argues, absolutely equitable, just, and merciful. Proceeding to the parables, Greeley renames some (e.g., "The Prodigal Father") to emphasize the figure in them whose love reassures us of God's unchanging reality, and discusses others, such as that of the wise and foolish virgins, that urge prompt, fitting response to God's call. As engaging and refreshing as traditional preaching should always be. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved