I think you’ll love Women in a Patriarchal World, which grew out of Elaine Storkey’s articles here in Woman Alive. She highlights 25 accounts of women in the Bible who use their courage, strength and faith to serve God in the male-dominated cultures they lived within. Elaine doesn’t have an agenda to topple the men in the stories, but rather to uncover, gently, the voices and character of women that we’ve missed or misunderstood. Her knowledge of the Bible is vast, but she writes as a friend and the book is clear and easy to read (of course her fine scholarship underpins her insights). It’s such a joy to recommend a book so wholeheartedly.  

Take the familiar story of the Samaritan woman at the well, whom Jesus asked for a drink (John 4). Elaine gives much interesting background to the woman and helps us reframe how we see her. In sermons this woman is often cast as someone who is promiscuous, jumping from husband to husband. But Elaine points out that men had the power to divorce their wives, and not the other way around. This woman likely had been widowed and abandoned over the years. And Jesus saw the real person: “To him, she was not immoral, an outsider or of no consequence. She was intelligent, trusting and a faithful seeker after God’s truth.” Jesus revealed himself to her as the Messiah; she was one of the first to receive the gift of this revelation.  

I hope you’ll be inspired to pick up this book. I’ve heavily underlined my electronic copy and I would like a printed version too. It’d be a great resource for small groups; you could read one Old Testament and one New Testament character together each week. Buy this book!  

For my other recommendation, I know it was only February that I highlighted some Bibles, but I’m so excited about this new study Bible that I want to warmly commend it to you. I’ve long appreciated the Bible Speaks Today series of Bible commentaries. Filled with trusted scholarship, they give background and insight about each of the books of the Bible. Now the jewels of those commentaries have been distilled alongside the NIV translation into one handy volume in the NIV Bible Speaks Today. In the short time that I’ve had it, I’ve already used it while preparing some Bible reading notes. Perfect to enrich your library and to give as a gift.  

I’m so thrilled that I’ve been able to recommend without hesitation both of these volumes in our book-themed summertime Woman Alive! And I also enjoyed receiving reviews from five favourite author friends, which I think you’ll appreciate. I recommend the books they write too. Keep reading!