Is the Bible Good for Women? (Book Review)

Updated on December 23, 2017
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MsDora, a six-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.

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. Because Alsup's presentation is not a straightforward answer to the title question, it helps to summarize each of the ten chapters.

Summary of Content

  1. She discusses whether the Bible is good in general. She teaches how references to Jesus in the Old Testament connect with the gospel in the New.
  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.
  4. After the Fall, man becomes frustrated with his work assignment, and woman becomes frustrated in her efforts to be his helper.
  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 transcends their lifetime.
  6. The laws of Deuteronomy 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 report what happened. 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. The reader may judge which, if any, of these principles 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 Bible 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?

Do you think that Bible instructions are still relevant?

See results

Evaluation

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.She presents 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 Book's 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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 13 months ago from The Caribbean

        Tamarajo, thanks for your feedback. I think that this book qualifies as a good read for you. Hope you try it and enjoy it.

      • Tamarajo profile image

        Tamarajo 13 months ago

        A very good review Dora. I have to say the title of the book leaves one to wonder what direction the contents take. Based on your thorough review I would consider reading it.

        I like that you shared that the author's take is based on the method of letting the Bible interpret itself and including the Old Testament study to gain a full perspective.

        God makes it clear in Genesis 1 that both male and female equally and unified are intended to, and responsible for, imaging the relational God who made them as well as exhibit His purposes and functions. Oppression was not included in the original mandate.

        We can get into trouble when we view some of these issues in cultural contexts, through modern social lenses, or even sometimes a personal experience can many times distort and wander from Gods original plan, purpose, and vision.

        Thanks for the review. I am a confessed "bookaholic" and always looking for a good solid read.

        God bless!

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 13 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Peg. This book considers the attitude of society toward women then and now, and I think that that author does a good job of making women feel confident about their womanhood. I appreciate your input.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 13 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        These are important considerations in our society where the role of women has changed so completely over the past few decades. I remember a time when women were not allowed to serve in any role in the church, other than to fill the communion glasses and teach young children in Bible study. Your book review is intriguing without giving away the conclusion of the study. Nicely done!

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

        Robert, thanks for your valuable feedback. Yes, the author's work is impressive and I plan to reread and study more closely. It is very insightful.

      • no body profile image

        Robert E Smith 14 months ago from Rochester, New York

        Wow, it seems she jumped right into the thick of things in tackling the criticisms of the Bible's thoughts and history of women. I am impressed. I like the guideline of "prescriptive texts" and "descriptive texts." I have to admit there are some things in the Old Testament that have me scratching my head in confusion, but for the most part, I find the Bible straightforward when laying out principles for women to live by. The New Testament straightens out Law versus Grace type issues quite well. I'm not sure if she deals with the seriousness of God's attitude toward blood, blood of any kind, whether from a natural source biologically or from violence such as murder. As soon as blood is dealt with you see God turning serious. Maybe so the blood (of Christ) is seen as seriously important as well. I think her book would be a great read for women or men. Thank you for the review. Bob.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 14 months 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.

      • bodylevive profile image

        BODYLEVIVE 14 months 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 Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • profile image

        Eboni 14 months 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 Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 14 months 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
        Author

        Dora Weithers 14 months 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.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 14 months 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
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 15 months 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
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months 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.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 15 months 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.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 15 months 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.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 15 months 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
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 15 months 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.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 15 months ago from 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.

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