Welcome the Outsider
Of the four Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—Luke devotes the most real estate to women. And he does so as a larger pattern of highlighting Jesus’s ministry to “outsiders.” Luke’s original audience would have seen themselves as insiders, and he pressed them to be like Jesus and open their sphere of community. Here’s a sampling: Widow bereft of her son. A widow lost her only son. Few were more vulnerable than widows. Especially those who had no male relatives. But Jesus raised him back to life and restored him to his mother (Luke 7:11–17). Widow who gave her mite. Jesus commended the actions of a widow who put all she had in…
The Magdalene: Mary from Magdala or Mary Tower?
Who was Mary Magdalene? Because early New Testament manuscripts were more difficult to search than today’s books, Mary M. has at times been confused or combined with other Marys. “Mary” is a form of Miriam, the name of Moses’s sister, whom the Bible describes as a prophet and leader. Some have conflated Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman who anointed Jesus (Luke 7). Thus, Mary M. has been described in prose and depicted in art as a reformed prostitute. Others have suggested she had a romantic relationship with Jesus—or even married him! But the Scriptures suggest none of these things about her past. The actual details (given in Luke’s Gospel) are…
Six Words That Changed My Life
I am Sandra—daughter of Ann, of Velma, of Ella…all the way back to Eve. But the genetic line stops with me. Although I went to college, I had no intention of pursuing a career. I dated my high-school sweetheart, and I knew even in my freshman year that I would marry this guy. My main vocational goal was to be a mommy. It was my only aspiration. When we married at ages 21 and 20, Gary and I wanted at least three children. It never dawned on me that we might face the prospect of no kids at all. If anything, I figured we’d have nineteen like Susannah Wesley and…
Women of the Bible: “Remember Lot’s Wife”
Jesus’s “Exhibit A” to illustrate “Whoever tries to keep one’s life will lose it, but whoever loses one’s life will preserve it” (Luke 17:30–32) is Lot’s wife. We find the tragic end of this woman, married to Abraham’s nephew, in Genesis 19. As the story goes, two angels arrive at evening in Sodom, where Lot is sitting at the city gate—doubtless because he holds judicial office there. In Proverbs 31 we see a similar reference, as the “husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land” (Prov 31:23). This detail about Lot suggests he is deeply embedded in Sodom and fully…
The Bent-Over Woman Jesus Healed
Recently, I dug deeply into a story about one of the lesser-known women of the Bible—the woman Luke describes as “bent over.” And I loved learning more about Jesus’s interaction with her. But first, the backstory: Jesus and his disciples are walking somewhere on a Sabbath, and they feed themselves by taking some heads of grain in a field. And what do the religious leaders do? They object, because Jesus and his team have done “work.” When this happens, Jesus reminds his listeners of a story in the Scriptures about how a priest gave David and his hungry men leftover consecrated bread on the Sabbath. And Jesus concludes by declaring…
The Most Woman-Friendly Book in the Hebrew Bible
Several weeks ago, someone asked why we don’t see more women in the Bible. My exploration of the answer launched me on a multi-part series which just happens to coincide nicely with Women’s History Month. You can find the first two posts here and here. Today I want to continue looking at how we miss some of the women in or behind the text—contributing to it—when they’re actually present. My friend and colleague, seminary professor Dr. Ronald B. Allen, teaches through the Bible’s Poetical books. And he loves to help students see and celebrate the emphasis on women in the Book of Proverbs. He notes, “Because the addressee of wisdom in Proverbs…
God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part XII (Zipporah, Wife of Moses)
Seek to become more like brave Zipporah in her wholehearted service to the Lord!
Women’s History Month: Acsah, a Lesser-Known Woman of the Bible
And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher” (Judges 1:12). Back when I was in high school, someone asked what I thought of arranged marriages. I pictured my parents choosing me a guy in a suit with nerd hair and geek glasses held together by a Band-aid. More interested in football players and rock musicians wearing faded jeans, I shuddered at the thought. I ended up marrying a guy who paved roads for a living and wore cool jeans. Funny, though. I actually didn’t mind so much when he went on to wear suits and work for a…
Vindicating Vixens: What about Michel, wife of David?
Since the publication of Vindicating the Vixens, I’ve received messages suggesting additional women in the Bible we’ve probably seen through negative eyes when the biblical text does not present them that way. Often I agree. But sometimes I don’t—as is the case with those who think we should add Michal, daughter of Saul and wife of David, to the list. We find her story in 1 Samuel. To set the scene, Saul is King, and the shepherd-boy David has defeated Goliath. So King Saul offers David the elder of two daughters, Merab, in marriage. David declines with “I’m unworthy,” so Saul marries off Merab to someone else (1 Sam 18:17–20). King…
A New Perspective on Bathsheba by Grace Holik
The popularity of Hallmark Christmas movies confirms–we love when those great love stories end "and they lived happily ever" but we loath when the story ends with breakups and broken hearts. That's why Hallmark movies never do. Authors and commentators seem torn between the idea of David and Bathsheba as an epic forbidden romance or a forced assault of power. I would argue for the latter. This isn't a love story between a sinister temptress who seduces a dashing king as they both consent to a riveting affair. Instead, this story demonstrates the misuse of power and deceit, as sexual lust takes precedence over the value of human life. …