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Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture

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Is it possible to embrace the inherent dignity of womanhood while still cherishing the Bible? Many people, both inside and outside the church, are concerned that an orthodox understanding of the Bible is threatening and even harmful to women. After all, the Bible has a number of passages regarding women that are deeply troubling and hard to read. But is that assessment acc Is it possible to embrace the inherent dignity of womanhood while still cherishing the Bible? Many people, both inside and outside the church, are concerned that an orthodox understanding of the Bible is threatening and even harmful to women. After all, the Bible has a number of passages regarding women that are deeply troubling and hard to read. But is that assessment accurate? In this fascinating look at God's work of redemption from Creation to today, Wendy Alsup explores questions such as: * How does God view justice and equal rights for women? * What does it mean to be made in the image of God? * How have the centuries distorted our interpretation of how God views women? * How did Jesus approach the Old Testament and how does that help us read difficult passages today? * What is the difference between a modern view of feminism and the feminism that Scripture models? * How does the Bible explain the Bible to us? Using a Jesus-centered understanding to look at both God's grand storyline and specific biblical passages, Alsup gives practical and accessible tools for understanding the noble ways God speaks to and about women in its pages and the dignity He places on His daughters.


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Is it possible to embrace the inherent dignity of womanhood while still cherishing the Bible? Many people, both inside and outside the church, are concerned that an orthodox understanding of the Bible is threatening and even harmful to women. After all, the Bible has a number of passages regarding women that are deeply troubling and hard to read. But is that assessment acc Is it possible to embrace the inherent dignity of womanhood while still cherishing the Bible? Many people, both inside and outside the church, are concerned that an orthodox understanding of the Bible is threatening and even harmful to women. After all, the Bible has a number of passages regarding women that are deeply troubling and hard to read. But is that assessment accurate? In this fascinating look at God's work of redemption from Creation to today, Wendy Alsup explores questions such as: * How does God view justice and equal rights for women? * What does it mean to be made in the image of God? * How have the centuries distorted our interpretation of how God views women? * How did Jesus approach the Old Testament and how does that help us read difficult passages today? * What is the difference between a modern view of feminism and the feminism that Scripture models? * How does the Bible explain the Bible to us? Using a Jesus-centered understanding to look at both God's grand storyline and specific biblical passages, Alsup gives practical and accessible tools for understanding the noble ways God speaks to and about women in its pages and the dignity He places on His daughters.

30 review for Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Ard

    I consider myself both a feminist and a devout believer in the Christian faith. However, my lack of understanding of certain theological concepts and the cultural/linguistic context of many parts of the Bible, including concerning passages about women, have often left me feeling, for lack of a better term, "squicky." Throwing in the centuries of men's misuse of Scripture to oppress and abuse makes things even more complicated. This book was a godsend for me. Alsup writes in a clear and concise w I consider myself both a feminist and a devout believer in the Christian faith. However, my lack of understanding of certain theological concepts and the cultural/linguistic context of many parts of the Bible, including concerning passages about women, have often left me feeling, for lack of a better term, "squicky." Throwing in the centuries of men's misuse of Scripture to oppress and abuse makes things even more complicated. This book was a godsend for me. Alsup writes in a clear and concise way that is accessible to the seasoned believer and the areligious skeptic alike. Her arguments are well-organized and supported, and helped me resolve several points of tension I've felt between Scripture and the loving, just God I know I serve. While Is the Bible Good for Women? is not an exhaustive work, it is a wonderful resource for those who, like myself, have often found themselves conflicted over this issue. I recommend to everyone, Christian or not, who regards the Bible with suspicion when it comes to gender issues. I especially recommend to those who were reared in traditions that used Scripture out of context to subjugate, demean, or oppress women, as Alsup does a wonderful job of discrediting those who have distorted God's word.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Wendy Alsup’s “Is the Bible Good For Women?” is a unique and necessary anchor for those steering through the current of theological discussions about women and the Bible. This book is distinct from more progressive teaching because of an unabashed devotion to the truth and sufficiency of Holy Scripture, but it is set apart from the majority of conservative teaching because of how graciously and honestly she confronts the dilemmas therein. “The Bible does not give us problems,” Alsup writes, “tha Wendy Alsup’s “Is the Bible Good For Women?” is a unique and necessary anchor for those steering through the current of theological discussions about women and the Bible. This book is distinct from more progressive teaching because of an unabashed devotion to the truth and sufficiency of Holy Scripture, but it is set apart from the majority of conservative teaching because of how graciously and honestly she confronts the dilemmas therein. “The Bible does not give us problems,” Alsup writes, “that it does not also teach us to solve.” Those problems find their answer in the person of Jesus Christ, who Alsup describes as a scarlet cord tying scripture into glorious unity. Whether under the label “complementarian” or not, most theologically conservative writings about women in the Bible and gender roles in church, family, or community do not adequately wrestle with the harder passages of scripture or welcome readers with unresolved questions. Ten chapters of this book can’t deal with every single passage either, but Alsup lays a firm foundation of God’s character and the reliability of scripture and builds upon it with strength and nuance, equipping readers to study all the Bible with fearless expectation. Yet “Is the Bible Good For Women?” is not just for a theologian; it is for a skeptic as well. Alsup shows us that the relationship between faith and femininity are not found in studying cultural mores, family structures, or word-searching “women” in a Bible concordance. Even the cover lacks the current culturally-defined “girlish” imagery, because this is not a question answered by chalkboard calligraphy, floral watercolors, or steaming mugs of coffee: it’s answered in studying scripture and seeing the Savior on every page. From biblical stories of horror (Dinah’s rape in Genesis 34; the dismembered concubine in Judges 19), Alsup shows God’s faithfulness to avenge those who abuse women. From difficult portions of the Law (including capital punishment for adultery in Deuteronomy 22), Alsup points to the perfect fulfillment Jesus made to protect women where the Law was insufficient (particularly in John 8). From confusing and seemingly oppressive passages in New Testament epistles (women forbidden to teach in 1 Timothy 2; discussions of head covering in 1 Corinthians 11; wives subject to husbands in Ephesians 5), Alsup celebrates the God who gifted each woman to effectively serve in her church community, who hates slavery and sexual objectification, and who laid down his life and all earthly power for the sake of his bride. In all this, Alsup exalts the God who put his image in every human being at creation, called us “good" then, and has given us his Word and Himself only for our good ever since.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I agreed with some of what she said, disagreed with other parts, but it all made me think. I already believe that the Bible is good for everyone, so I didn't read this book to become convinced. Which is a good thing, because I don't think it would have if I was skeptical about it. It's not bad, but I didn't follow some of her thought patterns and ideas. Not a negative to her, we are different people, so are bound to see things slightly differently. Our spiritual journeys are also different, so w I agreed with some of what she said, disagreed with other parts, but it all made me think. I already believe that the Bible is good for everyone, so I didn't read this book to become convinced. Which is a good thing, because I don't think it would have if I was skeptical about it. It's not bad, but I didn't follow some of her thought patterns and ideas. Not a negative to her, we are different people, so are bound to see things slightly differently. Our spiritual journeys are also different, so we are probably not in the same place theologically, which is fine. I respect the fact that she wrote a book, that she wrote it about a rather hot-button issue and did so without being anti-man. Kudos to her! Though I think she awkwardly tap danced around the elephant in the room by only discussing male/female husband/wife relationships. Granted, that was the focus of the book, but by not mentioning anything about that elephant, it was jarring and obvious and I think her way of using the Bible to explain the Bible would have been a really interesting look at that topic. Maybe in a future book? I would definitely read it! So solid read. I have a lot to think about and chew over, which is a good thing. 3.5 stars, rounded down to a strong, solid 3 stars. My thanks to NetGalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Despite the two star rating, I really appreciated many of the thoughts in this book. It helps provide some context for potentially troubling passages in the Bible and focuses on providing readers with the tools to examine similar passages as they move forward in their personal studies. Strengths: Alsup acknowledges the existence of intersex people in the introduction, which I have never seen a Christian author do before. (I mean, she could have done more, but she did do something.) Several traditi Despite the two star rating, I really appreciated many of the thoughts in this book. It helps provide some context for potentially troubling passages in the Bible and focuses on providing readers with the tools to examine similar passages as they move forward in their personal studies. Strengths: Alsup acknowledges the existence of intersex people in the introduction, which I have never seen a Christian author do before. (I mean, she could have done more, but she did do something.) Several traditional gender roles and expectations face scrutiny. This includes the ideas that insist that women must marry and have children to have a fulfilling and meaningful life. She suggests that relationships between men and women are not necessarily sexual and erotic, and that the God-created alliance between different genders can be powerful in other ways. And she discusses ways that women are empowered in their churches (but more on that later). I really loved her discussion of how ezer, or "helping," can be a God-like characteristic in women. It can be easy to dismiss the "helper" aspect along with stereotypes of submissiveness and a lack of agency, but I was intrigued and impressed by this assertive, righteous helping that is about serving, defending, and protecting others. Again, this book is meant to teach a thinking process when one arrives at problematic verses. So that was good. Overall, Alsup seemed like a balanced writer. She acknowledged other points of view and was respectful and thoughtful in thinking about how different people or groups might approach the same issue. That thoughtfulness allows this book to open discussion to more people. I have a few more, but tw for sexual assault in Chapter 6. (view spoiler)[I'm glad that Chapter 6, "Is the Law Good for Women?" had a trigger warning at the beginning. The chapter dealt with some problematic laws, like that which says that women must marry their rapists. It was definitely tough material, but a worthy discussion. But there was still a graceful respect for women who do not wish to read those discussions. I also didn't sense victim-blaming sentiments in the writing. While there's certainly responsibility/condemnation for those people who choose to cheat on their spouses and break their promises, there isn't an angle that suggests "well, actually these women weren't raped at all" or "these women deserved/wanted it." The focus on the ensured dignity and protection of the woman in the community helps ensure that victims of assault or abuse are never guilty or responsible for the hurt done to them. I don't think that the discussion leads to anywhere wholly comforting, but it's valuable for those who are up for it. (hide spoiler)] Also, I really liked when she suggested that biblical masculinity requires humility and a willingness for correction. Masculinity doesn't get a lot of screen time in this book, so I'm glad that it didn't stand for toxic masculinity while it was there. Troubles and Where I Wanted More: I wanted to see more discussion of earthly justice. I think it's important that both Chapter 5 and 6 are present in the book, because Chapter 6 has more concrete ways of thinking about women's justice issues than Chapter 5. However, Chapter 5, "Is It Going to Get Better?" basically says, "Yes, in Heaven," which does not appeal to me at all. Some of this history is wrong. Not an excessive amount, but suggesting that Christopher Columbus "first" theorized that the world is round does not fly with me. There were a few other things, as well. The implied white audience is strong with this one. There were just a few "off" things. I'd definitely love to hear what other people/affected groups would think. Name-dropping slavery and racism in America felt incomplete and not well-thought-out. She also brings up the "barbaric" practice of exiling menstruating "daughters" in Nepal. I ain't saying that's right—but acting like Nepal and Bible Times are the only two sources stigmatizing menstruation is at the very least patronizing, if not problematically wrong. This certainly wouldn't bother all readers (and certainly not all Christians), but Alsup reiterated time and time again that there are only two genders, and they strongly correlate with one's chromosomal makeup. BUT THERE WERE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR HER TO CHALLENGE THE GENDER BINARY. This quote in particular stuck out to me: "Ghostlike, delicate, even fleeting at times, we are fluid representations of our Creator. We are not concrete icons." If people are fluid representations of God (just like pretty much everything else out there), why wouldn't gender be the same? She even acknowledges that gender isn't a black-and-white issue when she discusses that there are three persons of the trinity but "only two genders." There is nothing that outright attacks gender-nonconforming folks, but I ended up feeling almost like she tried too hard to enforce a binary when it clearly isn't there. Beyond that, I was also irked by the total attachment to he/him/his pronouns to describe God. Even if there was a gender binary, God would not fit into it. I don't know how useful a gender-neutral or alternating masculine/feminine pronoun would be to answering the question "Is the Bible Good for Women?" but I'm certain it would have been a testament to God's god-ness, if nothing else. (Referring to God with he/him/his pronouns was also annoying because, as much as the book implied that God designed women with an equal dignity to men, it also implies that men are first, or raised up, or more empowered, and for good reason. Coding God as a man when men are implied to be "slightly" superior ended up causing me to dissociate from God, which I did not like.) And, as a final caveat, I was bothered by some things because of my beliefs and background that many other Christians would not be bothered by at all. Alsup supported a position that women should have limited authority in the church. Wouldn't bother all readers, but it bothered me. Likewise, she defends anti-choice attitudes, especially on the abortion front. And I really do mean anti-choice. Telling women that it is "noble" and "good" to sacrifice their rights and independence for the good of the community (i.e. the baby and its father) is not what I am here for at all. TL;DR: In the end, I agree with Alsup that God was the first feminist, but I think her definition of feminism lacks the nuance that would distinguish between "equality" and "liberation." This book helped me clarify some views on many biblical readings that bothered me—I'm glad I read it! I think many others would benefit from reading it as well. Nonetheless, this book wasn't quite for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I had high hopes for Alsup's book. As a woman I had been told I should not be teaching adult Sunday School classes because there were men present. I saw families leave my church when I was elected as a deacon. So I had high hopes. My high hopes continued as Alsup pursued the theme of Jesus restoring all that was lost in the Fall. I liked her exploration of God's original perfect purpose for women, working side by side with men in harmony, image bearers of God. I was excited by her assuring me tha I had high hopes for Alsup's book. As a woman I had been told I should not be teaching adult Sunday School classes because there were men present. I saw families leave my church when I was elected as a deacon. So I had high hopes. My high hopes continued as Alsup pursued the theme of Jesus restoring all that was lost in the Fall. I liked her exploration of God's original perfect purpose for women, working side by side with men in harmony, image bearers of God. I was excited by her assuring me that I have hope in Christ for repossessing all that was lost in the Fall. Much of Alsup's book deals with the Old Testament. When I got to the New Testament part of her book, my high hopes began to deflate. She encouraged me to take the “long view” of not merely the present but heaven too. She reminded me that the good for women was really the “lose your life to find it” kind of good. I knew then that women repossessing all that was lost in the Fall would be postponed and was not something for this life. Alsup concludes from her investigation of difficult (for women) passages in the New Testament that women can serve, such as being a deacon, but not lead, such as being an elder. Galatians 3:28 indicates equality of men and women as joint heirs of the promises of God but does not apply to roles and responsibilities in the Christian community. Women are not to lead worship nor make spiritual decisions for the church (nor preach, I would think). I feel that Alsup gave me false hope by leading to believe that what was lost in the Fall has been redeemed and restored by Christ. Perhaps in heaven men and women will walk and work side by side but not now. We as Christians are encouraged to defend the right of a woman to vote or be the CEO of a corporation, we are not to allow her to have a decisive position on a church board. Alsup admits in the book that she would not answer all the questions regarding woman and the Bible and she has not. This is not a definitive work by any means. I think there are other books addressing the issues that are much better, on both the egalitarian and complimentarian sides. There are discussion questions included so this book could be used in a discussion group. I received a complimentary galley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erin Henry

    I really appreciated this book. First off because I got an advanced reading copy which was so fun! For background the author comes from the reformed Protestant faith. She grew up in more fundamentalist circles and saw Scripture used to limit and oppress women. She firmly believes that Scripture interprets Scripture and decided to search the Bible herself to determine if God and the Bible are good for women. She addresses a lot of hard passages in the OT that most scholars ignore. And she goes t I really appreciated this book. First off because I got an advanced reading copy which was so fun! For background the author comes from the reformed Protestant faith. She grew up in more fundamentalist circles and saw Scripture used to limit and oppress women. She firmly believes that Scripture interprets Scripture and decided to search the Bible herself to determine if God and the Bible are good for women. She addresses a lot of hard passages in the OT that most scholars ignore. And she goes through most of the passages in the NT that refer to women. Her ability to look at the entire arc of Scripture and using that to interpret individual verses is impressive and refreshing. My one caveat is her critique of using culture to help interpret the Bible. I do think the culture of the time explains a lot about Scripture to us and the Jewish faith obviously informs a lot of ours and should also be included and studied. The author uses culture many times in her explanation of verses such as OT laws regarding captives of war and NT teaching to people who worshiped Artemis. So her insistence that we can understand all of Scripture using only other Scripture seems a bit much to me. Her final interpretation is that women cannot be elders/overseers. She lays out a much stronger case than most though as with most complementarian writing the limits on women seem to be up for discussion. That word doesn't mean much since you always have to ask the person to define it to understand what limits/expectations it contains for them. Despite my disagreements on a few points, I think this would be a very helpful book for any woman who has felt hurt or made less than by teaching from Scripture. I wish I had had it about 4 years ago! But I'm glad it is out now for other readers.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    3.5. Personally, I agree with Alsup's theology and interpretation of sculpture and appreciated her sound exposition of some challenging passages. Serving in women's ministry and leading and teaching the Bible, I was optimistic that this book could be a great book study to do with a group of women. And I loved Alsup's teaching on our restored image and think that's powerful for women to hear. But for some reason this book just never really flowed for me. Found myself skimming and trying to get so 3.5. Personally, I agree with Alsup's theology and interpretation of sculpture and appreciated her sound exposition of some challenging passages. Serving in women's ministry and leading and teaching the Bible, I was optimistic that this book could be a great book study to do with a group of women. And I loved Alsup's teaching on our restored image and think that's powerful for women to hear. But for some reason this book just never really flowed for me. Found myself skimming and trying to get somewhere, though I wasn't sure where..that until I arrived at chapter 8, "Are Paul's and Peter's Instructions Good for Women?" I realized this was the meat I was hoping for because these are the passages that are often challenging to me. I loved how Alsup let scripture interpret scripture and pointed to Old Testament characters and passages as well as Paul's female contemporaries to shed light on challenging passages. And bringing in some cultural context was helpful as well. I guess the reason this wasn't 4 or 5 stars for me is that it took 150 pages to get to the meat of the book. But I do appreciate Alsup's efforts to establish a healthy and biblical interpretation of scripture...that we must grasp the metanarrative and allow scripture to interpret scripture and not cherry pick passages because cherry picking will lead to error and misinterpretation. But i think some of this could have been condensed and more time spent on specific passages. Just my opinion...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wanjiru Thoithi

    I found this book a little difficult to read. Perhaps I was looking for quick answers. I think it needs to be read at least more than once. Wendy excels at teaching one how to figure out for onself whether the Bible is good for women. She substantiates her claim ( the truth) that the Bible is good for women by slowly weaving through the Bible and its story of redemption; herein lies the problem. The pace can sometimes feel a bit off. What she sets out to discuss, she does so through repetition of I found this book a little difficult to read. Perhaps I was looking for quick answers. I think it needs to be read at least more than once. Wendy excels at teaching one how to figure out for onself whether the Bible is good for women. She substantiates her claim ( the truth) that the Bible is good for women by slowly weaving through the Bible and its story of redemption; herein lies the problem. The pace can sometimes feel a bit off. What she sets out to discuss, she does so through repetition of previously established principles and long winded illustrations which last too long before one is able to make a connection. The good thing, however, is that she always delivers in the end of each chapter. As for the coverage on the typical concerns people may have regarding the Bible and what it says about women, Wendy touches on a wide range of issues. If anything is left undiscussed, I think it is fair to say that she teaches the principles which would aid one in coming to one's own conclusions. Overall a good book. I pray for more understanding as I read this book again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Trovato

    A well written cohesive argument answer the question in the title. Her early chapters set the groundwork of why the Bible is good for anyone and then she moves into the more controversial questions. I love how she talked about the scarlet thread of Christ throughout the difficult stories of the Old Testament. She does a great job showing how the difficult stories of the OT are still in line with the narrative of the Bible . I do wish she had gone into more detail about why she thinks the Pastoral A well written cohesive argument answer the question in the title. Her early chapters set the groundwork of why the Bible is good for anyone and then she moves into the more controversial questions. I love how she talked about the scarlet thread of Christ throughout the difficult stories of the Old Testament. She does a great job showing how the difficult stories of the OT are still in line with the narrative of the Bible . I do wish she had gone into more detail about why she thinks the Pastoral and elder role is reserved for men, since I’m sure many of the women that picked up this book are wanting her to respond to that question. Not quite the scope of this book, but I feel she could have touched on it biblically more than she did. She ends the book comparing secular feminism with a biblical feminism, mainly pointing out how the greatest difference between the two is not abortion, but rather the view of a woman’s autonomy. “Some versions of modern feminism advocate an independence that diminishes the nobility of women laying down their rights to strongly help others.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deon

    This was a great book. Challenging and thought provoking What do you do with the women in the Bible such as Tamar, Dinah & the daughter of Jephthah? What about head coverings & women being silent in church? The author does a great job working through each of these stories and answer some why questions. Rather than telling you her answer, she says "the Bible is the best commentary on itself!" and does a nice job guiding you through the Bible. This book would make a great book for a women small gro This was a great book. Challenging and thought provoking What do you do with the women in the Bible such as Tamar, Dinah & the daughter of Jephthah? What about head coverings & women being silent in church? The author does a great job working through each of these stories and answer some why questions. Rather than telling you her answer, she says "the Bible is the best commentary on itself!" and does a nice job guiding you through the Bible. This book would make a great book for a women small group. There are good discussion question for each chapter in the back of the book. *This is an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley, I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.*

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    If we believe the Bible is the unquestionable word of God, we probably have to also believe it’s good for everyone. If we believe the Bible’s just an interesting old book, we’ll apply its rules to the present day with much more caution and doubt. But readers who find themselves in between these stances, particular women, might be drawn to read this book in search of hope and recognition. Wendy Alsup offers lots of intriguing answers to those questions or Bible stories so often presented to hold w If we believe the Bible is the unquestionable word of God, we probably have to also believe it’s good for everyone. If we believe the Bible’s just an interesting old book, we’ll apply its rules to the present day with much more caution and doubt. But readers who find themselves in between these stances, particular women, might be drawn to read this book in search of hope and recognition. Wendy Alsup offers lots of intriguing answers to those questions or Bible stories so often presented to hold women down. In "Is The Bible Good For Women?" she reminds her readers why interpretation can't be treated the same way as truth. Meanwhile she offers honest insights into a Bible that’s not a textbook or a collection of stories with easy applications. Old Testament tales of wounded women are presented in historical context, revealing surprisingly good consequences for women. What looks from the outside like restriction becomes protection when viewed through a historical lens. And the misuse of those same protections today is man's mistake, not God's. I enjoyed the author’s Christ-centered, whole-story approach to the Old Testament, and was fascinated by her explanation of the difference between wisdom and law. New Testament applications, however, are strongly guided by the author’s own experience. Thankfully, she does remind us of this, and explains her interpretation is never meant as a blueprint for all. But for some, the uneven avoidance of outside interpretations might result in a New Testament “wisdom” that sounds too close to “law.” Readers who enjoyed the earlier parts of the book might justifiably be disappointed as the reading continues. For myself, I’d rather believe women can become more free—I prefer a different interpretation from the author's, and I choose to let New Testament culture advise my understanding of the New Testament, as Old Testament culture does my view of the Old. That said, I really enjoyed Wendy Alsup’s book. The questions included at the end would make it an excellent resource for a women’s study group, and the emphasis on Christ makes it a good Christian resource as well. Disclosure: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: I am wholeheartedly egalitarian. I believe women should be pastors and elders and leaders of para-church ministries. I think that not only are women fully created in the image of God, that men can't really be fully representative of the image of God as intended without women. I am not Wendy Alsup's primary target audience. But I have read her blog for years with great benefit. I am in a private facebook group with her and very much appreciate her voice. Theologically, especially aro Short Review: I am wholeheartedly egalitarian. I believe women should be pastors and elders and leaders of para-church ministries. I think that not only are women fully created in the image of God, that men can't really be fully representative of the image of God as intended without women. I am not Wendy Alsup's primary target audience. But I have read her blog for years with great benefit. I am in a private facebook group with her and very much appreciate her voice. Theologically, especially around biblical method, we have some significant disagreements. And there were many areas that I wanted to push back on this book. I think she does not present some of the views that she disagrees with accurately, but that is common with all of us. I think that like pretty much all biblical interpretation methods, there are holes and we do not live up to our stated interpretative ideals because all methods end up with problems. The method would be different if I were writing the book, but a lot of conclusions I would agree with, especially the final chapter. But I would also go much further (as you assume by my first couple of sentences.) Because I know and trust Alsup, I continued reading even when I may not have continued reading others. That does point out a problem in myself that I probably would have not continued reading others. But I need to honestly admit that weakness if I am going to learn from authors like Alsup. My full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/is-the-bible-good-fo...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Is the Bible Good for Women? is divided into two parts - the first five chapters are a general overview of who we are, what the Bible is, and what we as Christians should see as 'good;' the second four chapters are more specific about how to read certain parts of the Bible (the law, the rules that are given for Christians to live by, the writings in the New Testament about women, and the writings in the New Testament about men) and whether these parts show God's goodness toward women. Overall, I Is the Bible Good for Women? is divided into two parts - the first five chapters are a general overview of who we are, what the Bible is, and what we as Christians should see as 'good;' the second four chapters are more specific about how to read certain parts of the Bible (the law, the rules that are given for Christians to live by, the writings in the New Testament about women, and the writings in the New Testament about men) and whether these parts show God's goodness toward women. Overall, I found this to be a very good (if somewhat geared to someone who hasn't done a lot of thinking on these topics) treatment of the subject matter, although I disagree with some of Alsup's interpretations of the New Testament.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cole Brown

    A very useful resource on a very important topic. Much that has been written on this topic from a historical Christian perspective has been written on an academic level. Alsup, thankfully, does not make a complex conversation more complex. Instead, she skillfully makes the discussion accessible to educated and uneducated, insiders and outsiders. My only complaint about the book is also one of its biggest strengths. It takes the author more than half of the book to get to the point where she begi A very useful resource on a very important topic. Much that has been written on this topic from a historical Christian perspective has been written on an academic level. Alsup, thankfully, does not make a complex conversation more complex. Instead, she skillfully makes the discussion accessible to educated and uneducated, insiders and outsiders. My only complaint about the book is also one of its biggest strengths. It takes the author more than half of the book to get to the point where she begins answering the question posed in the title by examining specific scriptures. This was frustrating, but it was also wonderful, as she did this in order to make sure we approach such hot questions within the proper context of all of Scripture.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Overall, I find this book to be a positive source of influence as a Christian woman. I struggle with some of the arguments in Chapter 8 and Chapter 6 is tough to read. I think this book works as a companion to the Bible, but does not work as source to directly glean knowledge and understanding alone. Without a thorough background in Biblical stories, this book is difficult to understand and gain all it has to offer. I think it would be better longer, delving into more tricky passages of the Bibl Overall, I find this book to be a positive source of influence as a Christian woman. I struggle with some of the arguments in Chapter 8 and Chapter 6 is tough to read. I think this book works as a companion to the Bible, but does not work as source to directly glean knowledge and understanding alone. Without a thorough background in Biblical stories, this book is difficult to understand and gain all it has to offer. I think it would be better longer, delving into more tricky passages of the Bible. But, it does give one the tools to dive in to other passages by oneself, which is very important. I think this book has the potential to be more, but has done a decent job in getting its message across in the space it uses.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Gourley

    Wendy's book, especially the second half, changed the way I relate to the scriptures. I used to see the Bible as a tight rope, needing to handle interpretation very carefully so as not to fall off on either side into error. Wendy encourages readers, when looking at a complex or loaded passage, to mine the whole counsel of scripture, deep and wide, for every last word it speaks on a matter. I have heard "let the Bible interpret the Bible." But Wendy is saying "require the whole of the Bible to in Wendy's book, especially the second half, changed the way I relate to the scriptures. I used to see the Bible as a tight rope, needing to handle interpretation very carefully so as not to fall off on either side into error. Wendy encourages readers, when looking at a complex or loaded passage, to mine the whole counsel of scripture, deep and wide, for every last word it speaks on a matter. I have heard "let the Bible interpret the Bible." But Wendy is saying "require the whole of the Bible to interpret a passage. Let the scripture exhaust itself about a specific topic." Look for consistencies in God's character or disposition or preferences. Look for where a story arc resolves even if it spans old and new testaments. Find every piece. This approach shows me the Bible not as a tight rope but as a saftey net- I can fall hard, all my questioning, investigative weight on to the scriptures and the unified, teathered narrative arcs therein will bear me up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Mixon

    I will admit I may not have been the target audience for this book. I was not looking to answer the question does God care for women. I believe God cares for all people: man or woman. I was seeking clarity on how the modern church interprets New Testament teaching on women. The author only covered specific biblical texts for one chapter. I found that one chapter very helpful but I would recommend borrowing this book not buying if you’re interested in the same topic as me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Dwyer

    Asking “Is the Bible good for women?” may appear to be a rhetorical question, but it is a question that Christian women have asked throughout history and one that begs an answer. In her new book, Wendy Alsup succeeds at provide a thorough and theologically rich answer to this pertinent question. Alsup does a tremendous job of providing a Christ-centered framework for examining precisely how the Bible truly is good news for women. Alsup emphasizes that in order to discern the goodness of God’s Wo Asking “Is the Bible good for women?” may appear to be a rhetorical question, but it is a question that Christian women have asked throughout history and one that begs an answer. In her new book, Wendy Alsup succeeds at provide a thorough and theologically rich answer to this pertinent question. Alsup does a tremendous job of providing a Christ-centered framework for examining precisely how the Bible truly is good news for women. Alsup emphasizes that in order to discern the goodness of God’s Word for women, Christians must examine the Word within it’s own context. From creation to the Resurrection of Christ, Alsup adeptly uses the Scripture to display the goodness of God’s Word for women. Alsup carefully dissects difficult texts in both the Old and New Testaments in order to reveal the character of Christ and how these texts ultimately point toward the goodness of God’s Word for women. Instead of avoiding Old Testament texts detailing injustices and harm towards women, Alsup carefully navigates how these passages reveal the character of God and His plan for Christ to offer a sacrifice that would offer true redemption and justice for women. Later, Alsup examines the common New Testament passages that cause many women to doubt the goodness of God’s woman for the female gender. While examining passages such as 1 Timothy 2 and Ephesians 5, Alsup emphasizes the importance of studying these passages within the greater context of Scripture and the cultural norms of the age. Is The Bible Good For Women effectively communicates that God deeply cares for the goodness, justice, sanctification, and redemption of the women who uniquely bear His image. Alsup asserts that, “it is nearly impossible to value women and put forth their needs and rights correctly without first valuing the God in whose image they were made.” Alsup highlights that it is women’s status as image bearers that make demand justice is obtained for women who have been oppressed, violated, and harmed in any way. Alsup’s book reveals that God’s sufficient and holy Word is in fact good for women. Is The Bible Good For Women is an essential read. It offers insight, healing, and understanding for all women (and men) whether they are skeptics of the Bible’s goodness or have longed held firm to the Word’s goodness for women.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary Foxe

    I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I am inherently suspicious of any books about women and the Bible. There is tendency for such books to fall into one of two camps. 1. Women are to be silent and completely subservient to all men. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!! 2. Women are to be subject to no men. Women are inherently better than men. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!! To which I respond, 1. Have you ever heard of cultural context? Or just flat out heard of context at all? You do realize you can't I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I am inherently suspicious of any books about women and the Bible. There is tendency for such books to fall into one of two camps. 1. Women are to be silent and completely subservient to all men. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!! 2. Women are to be subject to no men. Women are inherently better than men. KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!! To which I respond, 1. Have you ever heard of cultural context? Or just flat out heard of context at all? You do realize you can't pick and choose what you want to believe to be true, right? and 2. Have you ever actually read the Bible? You do realize you can't pick and choose what you want to believe to be true, right? Both views make me want to punch someone. This book did not make me want to punch someone. Wendy Alsup is calm and collected in her analysis. She constantly encourages readers to read the Bible for themselves and try to study the language and context of the texts she presents. She is not comfortable with all results of her study, but she does ultimately present the case that the Bible, ultimately, wants the best for humanity and puts in special provisions to protect the marginalized. Ms. Alsup also does not ignore abuse and dedicates a whole chapter to it. She calls out how the church can be abusive. I feel more at ease with the Bible, but also more informed to call out people's crud when they say the Bible says one thing or another.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shea Patrick

    I read "Is the Bible Good for Women?" with the assumption that I am not the intended audience and could use the book as a resource for other women in my life. After careful reading, I was surprised as a woman raised in the church who would have answered the title question "Absolutely!" to find a ton of helpful tools to help me be a better student of God's word. Alsup's focus on following the story of Jesus in all of Scripture; viewing the law through the correct lens (descriptive vs. prescriptiv I read "Is the Bible Good for Women?" with the assumption that I am not the intended audience and could use the book as a resource for other women in my life. After careful reading, I was surprised as a woman raised in the church who would have answered the title question "Absolutely!" to find a ton of helpful tools to help me be a better student of God's word. Alsup's focus on following the story of Jesus in all of Scripture; viewing the law through the correct lens (descriptive vs. prescriptive); and using Scripture as the best commentary on Scripture can enrich the study of any woman or man who wants to know God better through His word. "Is the Bible Good for Women?" also provides particular food for thought for women. I have found myself sometimes uncomfortable with some parts of the Scripture dealing with women, and this book has helped me engage with these passages against the backdrop of God's design of women with dignity and particular purpose. Alsup deals gently with those who have faced abuse and continually points to the love and goodness of God as revealed in His word. This book is a great resource for those who would answer this question with a resounding "yes" or "no" as well as those who just aren't sure. I highly recommend this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    2 - 2.5 stars VT Reading Challenge 2017 Overall some helpful things in the book while I disagree with her on others. I did appreciate the section on head coverings.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    The most important part of the book also translates into the longest part of the book and ended up feeling like a slog. I read this for a summer book group with church, and had a deadline for chapters, etc, which likely also contributed to feeling at times like the reading was a chore, not something I could do at my leisure, stopping to consider what I was reading as I needed to. Be that as it may, this is a book worthy of taking time to sit with what she says and consider it. Most people tend t The most important part of the book also translates into the longest part of the book and ended up feeling like a slog. I read this for a summer book group with church, and had a deadline for chapters, etc, which likely also contributed to feeling at times like the reading was a chore, not something I could do at my leisure, stopping to consider what I was reading as I needed to. Be that as it may, this is a book worthy of taking time to sit with what she says and consider it. Most people tend to fit into 2 categories when it comes to the Bible and women: either the Bible is contradictory and outdated and not to be trusted when it comes to women, or that it treats women as less than and inferior, and a large part of how they see the world is shaped by this. Both viewpoints are formed from a misunderstanding of God and the value that he places on women. Alsup takes a lot of time to develop and explain a truly Biblical view of women, starting from the very beginning in Genesis. She lays out a foundation of women bearing God’s image and thus being a valued and integral part of his work in the earth and throughout history. Yep, women have gotten the short end of a lot of sticks, and yes, yes, yes! a lot of religions and cultures treat women abominably (including some sects of Christianity) but that doesn’t mean that’s how it’s meant to be. This is explained through many examples of biblical women, and different Bible passages. She gives solid reasoning for her viewpoints, and though some truths might be hard to hear (mostly because they directly contradict American culture and independence), they are worth considering. Alsup also goes beyond biblical womanhood to discuss what the Bible says about men, how they are to reflect God’s image, and how both men and women are interdependent on each other to work together in order to be God’s image and bring his plan to bear in this world. This makes a lot of sense and provides much value, considering the argument of interdependence that she lays out throughout the book. She asserts that the individual benefits when the community benefits, and gives a call for noble and sacrificial living for the good of others that many could see as demeaning and subjugating, especially in the light of centuries of oppression of women, as well as our fierce American independence (and selfishness, IMO, but that’s not particularly American, it’s more of a general human tendency) So, is the Bible good for women? Yes, Alsup asserts, but she doesn’t stop there. We can’t just stand up and claim our rights and have done with it. Women are created to bear God’s image. She explains what that looks like and the work that it entails, and why that, also, is very good.

  23. 5 out of 5

    rené lauren

    If the goal of her book is to make the reader consider the worldly ideals that they've been holding God to in regard to gender and their roles, than this book has done that. I spent time getting riled up at her writing, but then reminding myself to quiet my anger until I figured out if my frustration was in regard to what she said contradicting a righteous view of womanhood or because the truth of what she said was rubbing my perspective, that has been influenced by worldly standards, the wrong If the goal of her book is to make the reader consider the worldly ideals that they've been holding God to in regard to gender and their roles, than this book has done that. I spent time getting riled up at her writing, but then reminding myself to quiet my anger until I figured out if my frustration was in regard to what she said contradicting a righteous view of womanhood or because the truth of what she said was rubbing my perspective, that has been influenced by worldly standards, the wrong way. I think she makes valid points about the differences between men and women and the different roles that we are often assigned because of the gender we've been given. She has helped me see that the differences do not mean that one gender is less than the other, which I think is an important distinction. Both genders are equally valuable and useful and she does a good job of showing that in Scripture. The difficulty I had was her perspective that women are required to take the long view of God's redemption plan and submit to some difficult patriarchal roles that are not easily identified as roles for a specific gender, as if we are merely there to keep the peace. It sounded more like patronizing men and patting their heads and 'letting' them be in charge so as not to hurt their sensitive feelings. That bothers me. Men are not weak and don't need to be treated as small children. At times, either gender may be called to yield to either gender, but I believe that is at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, not a hard and fast rule for one gender to the other gender. From an exegetical perspective, I appreciate that she used the Bible to understand the Bible. It's important to remember context both within a specific book and the entirety of Scripture. I appreciate greatly that she utilized this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joel Cigan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Is The Bible Good for Women” was a worthwhile read but it felt as if the first 2/3 of the book were written by one author who’s going against the Biblical laws and the last 1/3 by another author who concludes that God was the first feminist. I don’t feel as though the Bible is a feminist work nor Jesus a feminist. The Bible was a “patriarchal” book with a clear gender divide. Wives are to “submit” to their husbands with their husbands playing a leadership role in the household and loving his wi “Is The Bible Good for Women” was a worthwhile read but it felt as if the first 2/3 of the book were written by one author who’s going against the Biblical laws and the last 1/3 by another author who concludes that God was the first feminist. I don’t feel as though the Bible is a feminist work nor Jesus a feminist. The Bible was a “patriarchal” book with a clear gender divide. Wives are to “submit” to their husbands with their husbands playing a leadership role in the household and loving his wife. It was Adam not Eve that should earn the bread by the sweat of his brow in fact. The author frequently mentions a “fallen,” secular and post-religious world. I find it rather gross that perhaps there are 21st century relationships where the woman is much fitter — even stronger than the man, earns more and treats her “life partner” like a child. If these relationships were Christian, I don’t believe this phenomenon represents God’s purpose and plan for us. These type of relationships seem awfully “emasculating” in fact. The Bible does seem like a very flawed book written in ancient times where women were stoned to death if they were not chaste until marriage. There is one account in the book of Genesis where a woman named Dinah is raped and her rapist decides to take her in marriage. The present day world would never allow these barbaric practices. Deuteronomy 22 mentions that women should never wear a man’s clothing. For many men, it is quite sexy for a woman to be seen wearing a man’s button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up and his Panerai watch adorned on her wrist.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy Dollahite

    Really 3.5 stars. Alsup's popular-level study is a worthy read if for no other reason than she stands firmly orthodox on the most crucial answer: "Yes!" to her title question. I also commend the principle she emphasizes — The Bible is the best interpretive guide/commentary on itself. In general, I don't think the detail she offers will satisfy the technical reader (thus, popular-level), and on some of the conclusions surrounding specific passages we diverge with serious implications for ecclesio Really 3.5 stars. Alsup's popular-level study is a worthy read if for no other reason than she stands firmly orthodox on the most crucial answer: "Yes!" to her title question. I also commend the principle she emphasizes — The Bible is the best interpretive guide/commentary on itself. In general, I don't think the detail she offers will satisfy the technical reader (thus, popular-level), and on some of the conclusions surrounding specific passages we diverge with serious implications for ecclesiology and practice. At one point she repeats an annoying mantra I've found in PCA circles, "Women can do anything a non-ordained man can do." However, despite important differences, she capably defends the fundamental truth that the Bible is good for women. Stylistically, she's irenic and linear, reminding me of Kevin DeYoung. She writes more like a math teacher than a poet, which isn't to imply dispassionate or dull. But she is not a wordsmith like Marilynne Robinson. Personal narrative is weaved helpfully throughout, and (for better or worse) undoubtedly influenced her thinking on her themes. My primary criticism is that in defending why the Bible is good for women, little time is devoted to unpacking the positive good associated with motherhood and childrearing. We hear much about the passages that purport to "limit" what women can do, but the Bible isn't just a DO NOT TOUCH textbook. "Mother" and "woman" are obviously not equivalent, but 80-90% of women become mothers, so there is significant overlap on that Venn diagram she likes to reference. Nor, to my memory, was there exploration of the positive good the Bible instructs older women / widows to devote themselves to as discussed in Timothy and Titus. In noting this I risk complaining an author didn't write the book I wanted her to write (guilty?)...and I'd prolly give it 4 stars otherwise. HSAT, I still think it's pretty solid book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cbarrett

    "Is the Bible Good for Women?" is a unique book that addresses the varied manner in which the Bible discusses matters relating to women (prescriptively and descriptively). Alsup navigates the discussion in a winsome way that will encourage the believer and the skeptic to listen. Alsup is up front regarding her commitment to God's Word as authoritative and inspired, and is also clear regarding her hermeneutic (method of interpretation) and reliance upon Scripture interpreting Scripture. She addres "Is the Bible Good for Women?" is a unique book that addresses the varied manner in which the Bible discusses matters relating to women (prescriptively and descriptively). Alsup navigates the discussion in a winsome way that will encourage the believer and the skeptic to listen. Alsup is up front regarding her commitment to God's Word as authoritative and inspired, and is also clear regarding her hermeneutic (method of interpretation) and reliance upon Scripture interpreting Scripture. She addresses manhood and womanhood prior to Fall, how the Fall affected manhood and womanhood, and how redemption restores manhood and womanhood through Christ. She shows how headship and submission are good according to God's design, and how sin abuses each. Alsup addresses these issues within the context of the covenantal relationships of marriage and church, which is important. There is also wise instruction to men in the book, and men will also be served by reading it. A few points in the book could have been more developed, but those are peripheral to the main argument, which was thorough and clear. Helpful book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Breeden

    The short answer? Yes. Here's an excellent book which tackles head on the notion that the Bible is anti-women. Wendy Alsup does a great job navigating through some tough waters as she deals with just about all of the difficult and confusing passages about women in the Bible. But Alsup isn't interested in simply exegeting a few passages of the Bible, instead she spends a big chunk of this book advocating and unpacking a Jesus-centric biblical hermeneutic which puts these difficult passages in the The short answer? Yes. Here's an excellent book which tackles head on the notion that the Bible is anti-women. Wendy Alsup does a great job navigating through some tough waters as she deals with just about all of the difficult and confusing passages about women in the Bible. But Alsup isn't interested in simply exegeting a few passages of the Bible, instead she spends a big chunk of this book advocating and unpacking a Jesus-centric biblical hermeneutic which puts these difficult passages in the larger context of the Bible, helping to bring them into sharper focus. In other words, readers need to be prepared for a somewhat lengthy process of foundation-laying before that passage you've always wondered about is explained. Alsup's tone is gracious but firm and she handles the biblical passages with confidence and precision. I may quibble with a one or two of her interpretations here and there but for the most part I found the book to be tremendously helpful. When I encounter young women (or men) who complain about the Bible's poor treatment of women, I'll put this book in their hands. Recommended!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I have never struggled with the question "Is the Bible good for women?" And that is EXACTLY why I need this book. Because I've never personally struggled, I haven't taken the time to wrestle through those tricky passages of Scripture about women for myself. (I say this to my shame, as someone who is called to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that I have.) Wendy Alsup's book is a Christ-centered, life-giving resource that will equip women like me to talk to friends who do struggle w I have never struggled with the question "Is the Bible good for women?" And that is EXACTLY why I need this book. Because I've never personally struggled, I haven't taken the time to wrestle through those tricky passages of Scripture about women for myself. (I say this to my shame, as someone who is called to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that I have.) Wendy Alsup's book is a Christ-centered, life-giving resource that will equip women like me to talk to friends who do struggle with this question...women who aren't believers, women who have experienced harm at the hands of men, women who are recent converts, or just women who didn't grow up in the PCA. Alsup traces the interconnected story of God's faithful rescue through the whole Bible, and reminds us of the principal that Scripture is its own best interpreter as she clarifies Old Testament laws and New Testament teachings and how they relate to women. And she does all of that in way that's highly readable and personal. I love her care of women who have been victimized and the gentle way she respects their trauma by warning of potential triggers and giving grace for women who need more time. There are thoughtful discussion questions included that would make this a good way to talk through these issues with a friend or in a book club or Bible study setting. I'm thankful for this solid resource to support my study of the Bible and my friendships.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim Pyle

    I found this book to be faithfully grounded in Scripture, refreshing, and balanced in its approach. Alsup spends approximately the first half of the book expounding on the big picture of God's story of redemption and where we find ourselves in that story, and she spends the second half of the book tackling difficult questions and passages of Scripture. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla from the library, but if I owned a physical copy, there are many passages I would underline and refer back I found this book to be faithfully grounded in Scripture, refreshing, and balanced in its approach. Alsup spends approximately the first half of the book expounding on the big picture of God's story of redemption and where we find ourselves in that story, and she spends the second half of the book tackling difficult questions and passages of Scripture. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla from the library, but if I owned a physical copy, there are many passages I would underline and refer back to, so I may end up purchasing it. I found myself wishing that more people I know would spend some time engaging with this book. Alsup is a complementarian, but she avoids many of the overreaches that some others in the complementarian camp have sometimes made, and she is gracious and faithful to Scripture throughout.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    I have never read Wendy Alsup's writing before, but I may follow her on Facebook now. Her very deliberate style of writing was a bit frustrating for me, but I appreciate that she was patiently building to her point, and I agreed with how she handled Biblical study. The Bible must be understood as a whole, with Jesus as its focus. Once she got into specific passages, I think it was a mixed bag. Her explanation of Genesis 3 was different than I had heard before, and made more sense. I wrote a blog I have never read Wendy Alsup's writing before, but I may follow her on Facebook now. Her very deliberate style of writing was a bit frustrating for me, but I appreciate that she was patiently building to her point, and I agreed with how she handled Biblical study. The Bible must be understood as a whole, with Jesus as its focus. Once she got into specific passages, I think it was a mixed bag. Her explanation of Genesis 3 was different than I had heard before, and made more sense. I wrote a blog post on that topic when I finished that chapter. So that was outstanding in my opinion. But her explanation of New Testament passages left me mostly wanting more depth, and in the case of 1 Corinthians 11, I found her explanations bewildering. This may improve in my mind with age, but 3.75 is where I'm at now.

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