Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Women of the Bible

book cover

Women of the Bible:
A Visual Guide to their Lives, Loves, and Legacy
by Carol Smith, Rachael Phillips, and Ellyn Sanna

ISBN-13: 9781602606500
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Released: February 1, 2011

Source: Electronic review copy from publisher through Netgalley.

Publisher's Book Description:
They didn’t get as much ink—but they contributed amazing things to the history of God’s people. Learn all about them in Women of the Bible, a brand-new, illustrated reference book from Barbour Publishing. Covering women’s roles and jobs, daily experiences, and interactions with Bible men, this book brings clarity to some of the strange, confusing, and forgotten stories of scripture. Also featuring lists of every named woman of scripture and most of the unnamed females, Women of the Bible is fully illustrated in color. It’s “readable reference,” equally helpful for study or pleasure.

My Review:
Women of the Bible is a Bible reference book on the named and unnamed women mentioned in the Bible. It also contained background information on what daily life was like for them based on ancient written resources and archeology. There were also full color pictures of paintings and sculptures done of Biblical women (not necessarily historically accurate), modern women (some doing "traditional" activities), and archaeological objects.

The sections about daily life gave an easy-to-read overview of many different topics but didn't go into great detail. The sections about specific women in the Bible primarily summarized what the Bible said about them. There was a scripture index and a proper name index in the back. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those wanting to know more about the women in the Bible with the bonus of getting an overview look at what their lives were like.

Chapter 1 talked about family; career; victimization; contraception; politics; health; relationships, dating, and men; clothing; hair and makeup; jewelry; influential women mentioned in the Bible; urban vs. country women; women's rights in the Old Testament and in the New Testament; women in Egypt, Canaan, Assyria, and Babylonia; gentile vs. Jews; Christian vs. non-Christian; Biblical laws regarding women (menstruation, childbirth, other discharges, divorce, remarriage, sex, adultery, property, clothing, vows); Jesus' treatment of women; Paul's view of women (keeping his words in historical context); slave vs free women; how women related to each other (mothers and daughters, co-wives, sisters, etc.); details about marriage (from arranging it to the marriage feast); a woman's roles throughout her life (from child to widow); pregnancy and childbirth; homemaking and marketable skills; working outside the home; and details about death, mourning, and burial.

Chapter 2 gave more information about the different stages of a woman's life, including information on child care, housekeeping duties, widowhood, and preparing for festivals. Also, slavery and prostitution.

Chapter 3 talked about the various roles women played with summaries of the lives of women mentioned in the Bible that had that role. The roles were judge, prophetess, worship leader, royalty and wealth, everyday heroines, notable mothers, symbolic women (like lady wisdom), female deities mentioned in the Bible. Also, women mentioned in Jesus' ministry, women in Jesus' parables, and women in the early church.

Chapter 4 talked about women's interactions with men in the Bible, including women who used their influence for evil, women who were used by men, women who triumphed over men, women who were loved and respected by men, Jesus' interactions with women, and New Testament teachings about male-female interactions.

Chapter 5 was an encyclopedia of women named in the Bible with information about each.

Chapter 6 was an encyclopedia of unnamed women mentioned in the Bible with information about each.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from page 13
Though the biblical laws reflect an era and a culture in which women did not have the same rights women enjoy today, the Bible also confirms that God called women into His service. He expected them to answer His call whatever their situation. Some resided in traditional settings, while others lived outside the norm. Women of the Bible like Rahab, Sarah, Ruth, and Deborah faced life's circumstances and followed God through those circumstances, sometimes regardless of cultural expectations, just as women do today.

Most lists of women's issues include familiar concerns: familial, career, victimization, contraception, politics, and health. How different are the issues facing women today from those that faced females of the ancient world?

As important as family and children are to most women today, their value was even greater to the women of early civilization. The goal at that time was populating the earth and building one's family. Women were raised with the understanding that bringing children into the family was their primary contribution. Their family defined them.

Read a .pdf excerpt from publisher's website.

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