All The Women Of The Bible, by Herbert Lockyer
As the obvious and inevitable companion volume to the author’s previous work All The Men Of The Bible , it is easy to wonder how this book compares. Fortunately, although the author has a certain approach in desiring for completeness as much as possible, making this book a somewhat bulky 300 page book like its companion volume, it has its own charm and can be read profitably apart from the other, as it is written with a slightly different audience in mind. Being as far as I can to the author, I can reasonably say that Mr. Lockyer ends up being one of those men who can be seen as particularly sympathetic to the plight of women, and someone who respects and enjoys women, even if his views were old fashioned at his own time and are very old fashioned in our own–he is no cave-dwelling sexist, but rather someone who has a fairly obvious high degree of moral standards that he holds both men and women to, and an appreciation for women not merely for external beauty but also for wisdom and courage. This is a book that I could see being of particular appeal to high-minded women who want a thoughtful account of the biblical presentation of women.
In terms of its contents, this is a book of considerable complexity. Aside from the issue of its 300 page length, which will be a bit daunting for some readers, this is a book that is front-loaded in terms of the heaviness of its contents. The book opens with a short chapter on the life and lot of biblical women, showing the author to be immensely sympathetic to the plight of women in ancient history and showing as well the high-mindedness of the Bible when compared with the heathen nations around. After this there is about 150 pages on an alphabetical exposition of named Bible women from Abi (the mother of Hezekiah) to Zipporah (the wife of Moses) that takes up about half the book, including a lot of biographical essays that could likely serve as inspiration for writing on important biblical women . After this there is a chapter of almost 80 pages on the nameless women of the Bible in order of their appearance in Protestant bibles, and another chapter of a bit more than 20 pages on symbolic and representative women also in biblical order of appearance. At this point there are three relatively short chapters that follow where the author gives aids to women’s groups and meetings, sample biographical studies of biblical women (and notable women from history), and some uncomfortably sappy messages for Mother’s Day, followed by a short bibliography and two indices.
Although this is a very good book, it is not a perfect book. Some criticism can be made for the credulity in which the author holds certain nonbiblical historical accounts, especially from the Talmud, which expands the material in length but does not usually offer a great deal of improvement in terms of the content. Additionally, and perhaps more troubling, is the way that the author on at least a couple of occasions (namely with Dinah and Tamar, daughter of David) seems to blame the rape victim for having been seduced. As a rape survivor myself, I tend to find the author’s attitude towards the women described as rape victims here to be highly troubling in the way it goes out of its way to attack the character of the women rather than to place the responsibility where it belongs. Aside from this, the book ought to be of interest to those who wish to know more about what the Bible says about women, and how a knowledge of the biblical view of women can be a corrective to our own misconceptions and prejudices. Despite its imperfections, this is a book that in many ways is worthy of appreciation and appropriation as a reference book.
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