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Women in a Patriarchal World: Twenty-five Empowering Stories from the Bible

Elaine Storkey

SPCK, 2020, £9.99, ISBN 978-0281084074 (ePUB £6.49)

Review by Liz Shercliff, Director of Studies in the Diocese of Chester, Reviews Editor

<strong><em>Women in a Patriarchal World: Twenty-five Empowering Stories from the Bible</em></strong>

Preaching Bible women without the help of books such as this can prove difficult, because the preacher needs to free themselves from the patriarchal norm. Storkey’s book helps us to escape preconceptions and accepted world views. She introduces us to twenty-five Bible women, many of whom we already know, then relates their stories to contemporary life in a section called ‘Facing our challenges today.’ Each question ends with some questions to ponder.

Many of the chapters were originally magazine articles, which results in the style being very accessible. The book is a good, well-considered work which can helpfully contribute to sermons about the women presented. Eleven chapters present women from the Hebrew Bible, fourteen women from the New Testament. The list of women is not exhaustive, and there are notable exceptions (the Levite’s concubine and Bathsheba, for instance). Instead, we have the Hebrew midwives; Moses mother and sister; the daughters of Zelophehad; Rahab; Deborah; Ruth, Naomi and Orpah; Hannah; Abigail; the wise women of 2 Samuel; the mothers in dispute before Solomon; and Huldah from the Hebrew Bible. From the New Testament, Storkey includes chapters on Mary; the Samaritan women; the woman who washed Jesus’ feet at the Pharisee’s house; Joanna; the woman with a haemorrhage; the Canaanite woman; the widow who offered her mite; Martha; Pilate’s wife; the women at the cross and the tomb; Mary of Magdala; Lydia, Priscilla and Euodia and Syntyche. Simply reading the list of unnamed women from the New Testament makes clear the need for these women to be given some sermon time!

The two questions that follow each chapter provide useful prompts for preachers about what sermons might include. The chapter on the wise women, for example, asks ‘what is your perception of King David’s rule?’ – a question most preachers on any part of David’s kingship might do well to ponder.

The book is a celebration of Bible women, introducing them in different lights with potential to re-interpret their stories. In Storkey’s hands the women she portrays become clever and courageous, influencing events, and taking leadership, if not the limelight, in a variety of ways. Underpinned, as always, with Storkey’s rigourous scholarship the book provides a useful and insightful resource for preachers.

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