This Christmas Hollywood is handing us an opportunity we simply have to seize: for the better part of at least 200 years most Protestants have ignored Mary as if she were an exotic aunt who shows up for the entire month of December to celebrate Christmas with us. With the production of The Nativity Story, we will all be confronted not only with a sketch of the events that led to the birth of Jesus — the movie is a traditional account of the birth of Jesus with no controversies — but also with the significance of Mary.
I tried to jump start a conversation about Mary in The Jesus Creed, but I’m hoping our next project can bring us to the table one more time to think about Mary to assess both the Bible and the theological developments.
We were able to send out an early draft of The Real Mary to both Ben Witherington, who has written the best study to date on Jesus and Women, and to Nancy Ortberg, a widely-respected teacher, and here are their blurbs for the book:
[The] domesticated image of Mary, and the silenced Mary of Protestantism who only shows up quietly at Christmas, need to be dismissed as unhistorical. It is time for a Mary upgrade in the Evangelical world, and Scot McKnight has both the hardware and the software to deliver the goods. Highly recommended!”
-Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
?In all of the gospels, Mary may be the most overlooked character. She has become an unwitting dividing line between Catholics and Protestants while we have missed the remarkable story of her life. Scot McKnight peels back the layers of controversy to reveal this compelling woman in whom God found such great favor.?
-Nancy Ortberg, columnist, Today?s Christian Woman
In December, Paraclete Press will publish my book The Real Mary. (See cover here.) As you may know, Hollywood has a movie coming out December 1 called The Nativity Story. I believe the movie will stimulate interest in the birth narratives about Jesus, but also about Mary — and it is time for Protestants especially to take this opportunity to investigate what the New Testament really does say about Mary. We are making a special offer to you today for engaging the movie and our book. Here it is:
Would you consider being a part of the Street Team for The Real Mary? This offer is only for those in the USA and Canada. This is what would be involved:
Contact us ASAP so you can post the preface and first chapter from The Real Mary on your blog and/or website on September 13, or e-mail the link to at least 10 friends if you don’t have a blog or website. The chapter will be available at www.paracletepress.com, or you may request it to be e-mailed to you as a pdf if you prefer by writing Ellen. Please encourage people to pick up the posting for their own sites or blogs, or to forward the e-mail to their friends.
Set up a discussion forum on Sunday, December 3 at your church, in your small group, at your library, civic center, home, or any other local venue to discuss who Mary really was. The Real Mary book and The Nativity Story movie (which opens December 1) are the springboards for this discussion. Appoint a leader/moderator for the discussion.
To assist your efforts, we will:
Send you two complimentary copies of The Real Mary when it releases on November 1 – a copy for you plus a copy to give to a friend, pastor, or discussion leader.
Provide updates on this project and a .pdf of the discussion guide for the book.
We will need to hear back from you by September 12th in order to place your order for the advance reading copy. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-255-4685, ext. 321 to sign up to be a part of Scot McKnight’s Street Team! We look forward to hearing from you.
Please include this information: Name, address and phone number, so we can contact you about where to send material and so we can discuss how/where you will be coordinating a forum.
P.S.: If you are unable to set up a discussion forum in your town or city, but are still interested in helping to spread the word about The Real Mary, we invite you to post a sample chapter from the book on your blog or website. Please download the chapter from www.paracletepress.com on September 13, or send a request to Ellen and the chapter will be e-mailed to you.
If you have questions about The Real Mary, please contact Ellen.