The Most Important Women Of The Bible: Remarkable Stories Of God’s Love And Remption, by Aaron and Elaina Sharp
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
For the most part, this book lives up to its title. I have a few quibbles with some of the important biblical women this book does not include (Miriam, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, and Abigail come to mind here, as well as more obscure names like Huldah), but there is no question that the women included in this book are worth remembering. As someone who reads a lot of books about women in the Bible , there is always something worth wondering in what a particular book brings to the conversation. Clearly, there is a great interest in writing about the women of the Bible, presumably for a female audience. It would be a shame, though, if only women read this book. Although many of the names chosen for these books show significant overlap, this book does a good job at showing what other writers (including some heavyweights like Calvin) have said about the particular women chosen as well as giving some amusing facts about the women and asking some thoughtful questions that the biblical texts do not explicitly answer about these women and their stories.
The version I read of this book was 115 pages long, certainly not too much space that plenty more important women had to be left out because of space considerations. As it is, the book includes 31, perhaps as a nod to Proverbs 31 as containing both the wisdom of Lemuel’s mother (another woman not included here) as well as the ode to the virtuous (or multuous) woman . At any rate, there are plenty more worthy women that could have been included. The women included, though, are a worthy list: Eve, Sarah, Tamar, Jochebed, Zipporah, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Naomi, Hannah, Bathsheba, the widow of Zerephath, the woman of Shunem, Esther, Gomer, Mary (the mother of Christ), Elizabeth, Anna, Mary Magdelene, Mary and Martha, the woman at the well, the bleeding woman, the Syrophonecian woman, the widow with two mites, the widow of Nain, the woman sinner (not very specific, I know), Tabitha, Phoebe, Lois and Eunice, Lydia, and Priscilla. The authors take a lot of effort at putting these women in the contexts of their own time as well as in their role in providing encouragement to (mostly) women today.
It is easy to imagine this book finding an appreciative audience among many women, as well as being the sort of book that encourages women’s ministries and bible studies and the like. It would be a shame, though, if this book was only read by women. The serious and thought-provoking questions asked in this book are of interest to both men and women, as some of them deal with the question of God interaction with humankind and about questions of divine providence as well as what God thinks about the way that people respond to the problems of this world. Many of the women in these biblical stories suffered with grave difficulties including illness, injustice, poverty, and childlessness, and not all of them handled their difficulties well, yet all were participants or observers of God’s involvement with humanity. The stories of these women, and many others, demonstrate the way that the Bible is a far more complicated and nuanced book when it comes to the role of women than is recognized by many, and the way that it speaks not only about long gone times but also speaks to contemporary concerns.
 See, for example:
 The word multuous is a bit of an inside joke with a friend of mine, who coined the term, I believe, from the Latin referring to the feminine form of virtue, since properly speaking, virtus (or virtue) refers to men, and multuous refers, in contrast, to women.