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Is the Bible Good for Women? (Book Review)

Updated on February 26, 2017
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MsDora, five-year online writer, shares poetry, creative writing and reflections on how writing and writers influence our lives.

Can women in the twenty-first century benefit from the instructions of a Bible, written in ancient times and often credited with prejudice and humiliation toward women? Wendy Alsup gives her answers in Is the Bible Good for Women?

Source

In the style of a good systematic theologian, she leads up to her conclusion with prerequisite topics including:

  • What Was Good in the Beginning?
  • How Did It All Go Wrong?
  • Is the Law Good for Women?
  • Are Paul's and Peter's Instructions Good for Women?
  • Is God Good for Women? titles her final chapter.

The paperback of 224 pages (5X8) is scheduled for publication by Multnomah in March 2017, in the genre of Christian Living/Women's Interest.

Because Alsup's presentation is not a straightforward answer to the question, although the adjacent issues contribute to the final outcome, it helps to summarize each of the ten chapters. Two threads run consistently throughout: (i) her approach is a Jesus-centered understanding of Scripture and (ii) she believes that the Bible is its own best commentary.

Summary of Content

  1. She discusses whether the Bible is good in general. She teaches how references to Jesus in the Old Testament connects with the gospel in the New. This helps readers understand God's response to issues like the stoning of the woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night (Deuteronomy 22: 28-29).
  2. She presents what was good for women in the beginning: her equal role with man assigned at creation, and again after the resurrection.
  3. She compares the "helper" role assigned to the woman at creation with the "helper" role God assigns for Himself in the 16 out of 21 times when the same term is used. She gives examples of dignified, purposeful women helpers (not always in a husband-wife relationship).
  4. After the Fall, man becomes frustrated with his work assignment, and woman becomes frustrated in her efforts to be his helper. Alsup explains how the woman's "desires" pronounced after the curse (Genesis 3:16) are satisfied.
  5. "Good" as in her book title is not only an earthly view of good, but also good with an eternal future. She gives examples of Bible women whose good in their lives transcends their lifetime.
  6. Given the culture of the times in which the laws of Deuteronomy were given, and the lack of health and sanitation essentials, laws concerning menstruation and childbirth become acceptable when viewed as protective laws like contemporary laws of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
  7. Alsup explains prescriptive texts which give instructions to be followed now, as opposed to descriptive texts which reported what happened: the virgin raped, the concubine killed, the daughter sacrificed. The descriptive texts show depravity of mankind, no approval from God, nor advice to follow suit.
  8. Alsup selects from the New Testament six passages dealing with difficult topics like submissive wives and limited female authority in church leadership. She shows how these laws in the context of slavery protected the women from other men. The reader may judge which, if any, are relevant today.
  9. She addresses God's instruction to men about women and how some men have abused them in an ungodly manner. She presents Peter as a model of Biblical manhood.
  10. The conclusion is neatly tied together, and Alsup gives her answer. Readers have the facts which they can use to decide for themselves whether God and the Bible are good for women--and men.

Interactive Reading

Alsup cites Scripture references which encourages the reader to study and see for themselves that the women in the Old Testament stories were not forgotten by God; and how the Bile addresses the issues later.

In addition, at the back of the book she includes discussion questions for use after each chapter. The questions encourage personal reflection and application as evidenced by these two based on Chapters 1 and 10 respectively:

  1. Have you personally experienced gender-based oppression? If so, did biblical instructions seem to make it worse or help?
  2. How do you envision living out God's image in your community, particularly as a woman?

Evaluation

Do you think that Bible instructions are still relevant?

See results

Alsup's presupposition that Scripture is inspired by God may dissuade non-believers from reading the book. However, if despite their disagreement they become curious to follow her presentation, they may gain new perspectives on some of the passages they consider threatening to women. There are some logical findings in the process of having the Bible explain itself.

Alsup's discussion on whether the Bible is good for women is convincing that God loves women, that Jesus treated them with respect, and that only the abusers of women--not God and not the Bible--are to blame for the heinous acts they commit in the name of religion or culture. Unresolved is the reason that Paul places limits on women leaders in the church, but Alsup presents an appeasing perspective.

About the Author

Source

Wendy Alsup is the author of Practical Theology for Women and The Gospel-Centered Woman.

Previously, she ministered in a Seattle congregation as a Deacon in Charge of Women's Theology and Training, but since moving to a family farm in South Carolina, she teaches at a community college.

She continues to teach women through her blog which has the same name as her first book Practical Theology for Women.

Disclosure

I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books (www.bloggingforbooks.com). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

© 2017 Dora Isaac Weithers

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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

      This is an excellent review. I think believers and non-believers alike will gain a great deal of knowledge and benefit from reading Wendy Alsup's book about women and whether or not the Bible is good for women.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

      Very interesting. I know many women are insulted by the bible and perhaps it is because I live in a country where women do have so much freedom it makes the bible sound worse to women and they have to call God a woman and all that. I just think if you love the Lord this is not a big worry and since there will be no genders in Heaven and since we will be judged by our spirit we have nothing to worry about. I do not feel threatened at all by God but love Him and trust He will always do the right thing. Just because we do not always understand does not ever make the bible wrong.

      Sounds like a good writer, I will look her up. Have to get me a new reader downloaded to start enjoying some good things you are pointing out! Thank you.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thank, Marlene. I agree with your opinion. This is a very good and informative read.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Jackie, hope you get your reader soon. Thank you for your solid input.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 weeks ago from london

      An interesting topic for many I'm sure and you have written it well. Sacred words carry power as they are inspired by the Divine. Still, one can either say that some things are outdated; some are meant to be left alone, or that we sometimes look into too much detail and miss the plot.

      Not you, Dee, not you. Their are many interpreters like that. They are scholarly like the Scribes, Pharises, Saducces, Doctors and Elders of the law, but lack the eye of vision, of wisdom; of Spirituality. Many aspects of the Bible can be too 'heavy' or dry. I find Christ's words so easy to read, so charged with power! The Psalms are like that too, but yes, some things are simply meant to be passed over.

      Sorry about my rant. As always, you do your best and it is an excellent piece. Much Love.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Manatita. I value your opinions especially on sacred words.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the review, Dora! I usually discount most reviews unless they are written by someone I know and respect. This one falls under that category.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting. As always, well done.

      I just never thought of the Bible as instructive in a negative way for women. The women in my life have very special rolls that make a living God work wonders in my life.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I'm usually that way too. Thanks for your confidence in me. Your comments mean much to me.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, it seems that you are blessed with good family all around. Those wonderful women in your life have made a model husband and father out of you. Thanks for your support.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

      Excellent review. You don't see women specializing in theology much. I'm intrigued enough to get this book

      Thanks Dora.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, I'm equally excited to read a female theologian. The book is very insightful. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 weeks ago from England

      Great review MsDora, this isn't something I would normally read but it has got me intrigued. I remember when they found the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, there was a passage in it where Peter moans to the others that Jesus is taking too much notice of Mary, and actually believes Jesus wants Mary to lead them when he is gone. Peter evidently doesn't like the idea, so pushes Mary out of the way after the event. of course this isn't in the Bible as it was found only a hundred or nearly years ago. But I am sure Mary Magdalene would have had a better 'role' in the Bible and history if this gospel had been found before!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Nell, thanks for mentioning Mary. She was very significant to Jesus among His other disciples. He did appear to her after His resurrection before He appeared to the men, and trusted her to deliver His message. I could image that the men would have had a problem with her, but Jesus had already told them (Luke 7) to leave her alone. Thanks for your input.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      I'm so glad that you pointed out the unresolved issues. I don't have an opinion on the topic but always appreciate a balanced perspective. Your review is solid and well done as always.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Flourish. I value your feedback. You encourage me to keep striving for balance.

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      Eboni 2 weeks ago

      I would read the book just to find out the author's perspective on why women's leadership in the church has limits. I thought that Jesus would make her equal in every area to her male counterpart. Really, the book seems interesting.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Eboni. It is interesting and you will learn background information on culture that helps everything make sense.

    • bodylevive profile image

      BODYLEVIVE 13 days ago from Alabama, USA

      YES, women in any century can benefit from the word of God, it is the foundation for an abundant life.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 13 days ago from The Caribbean

      BODYLEVIVE, thanks for your input on this book review. The author makes effort to make other readers as confident as you are.

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