Is the Bible Good for Women?

Wendy Alsup’s new book, Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture, asks a different sort of question, but it’s the one we need to be asking.

Is the Bible Good for Women? doesn’t just equip women to interpret Scripture correctly; it helps us gain a right understanding of a woman’s value. God made all of humanity in his image, and his ultimate purpose for his creation is to live in a world where both man and woman are mutually responsible to each other and their Creator. Crafted in the divine image, women find strength and dignity—God hears them and is for them. For this reason, Alsup claims a better view of women not built on Western values and views, but on God’s goodness and justice.

 

Women are looking for answers. They want to know they have the same rights as the men standing next to them do. They want to know when they march, they’re being heard. They want to know someone is for them. Essentially, they’re asking: Do I have value? Does my voice matter? Does anyone care? And yet in all of it, I wonder if they’re getting answers to their questions.

Wendy Alsup’s new book, Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture, asks a different sort of question, but it’s the one we need to be asking. And she answers it through a “Jesus-centered understanding of Scripture.”

Creation and Woman’s Purpose

Alsup—author, women’s Bible study writer, and community college teacher—gives a thorough and helpful synopsis of creation and the fall, along with Eve’s role in it. In doing so she helps us grasp God’s vision for women from the beginning.

She underscores the fact that “personhood preceded womanhood”—that is, God created humanity first and thendifferentiated between male and female. By doing this at the outset, Alsup challenges those with preconceived notions about how God views women.

Alsup then unpacks the word many women struggle to appreciate: ezer. Helper. Many seem to think the word means “less than” after hearing this God-given purpose: “It is not suitable for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). But Alsup does an excellent job presenting an in-depth study of “helper” to show that God never intended “less than.” Noting that ezer is used 16 times in the Old Testament to describe God himself, she writes:

If we hold on to the dominant cultural attitude that being a helper is a substandard identity, we mock the name of God and his character. . . . He created woman to show compassion, to support, to defend, and protect those in her care, to deliver from distress, and to comfort. . . . Women were designed to be like God himself. (48–49)

Alsup ultimately shows a woman’s purpose is equally significant to a man’s in the eternal purpose of God.

Need for Redemption

Alsup also explains the consequences of the fall and how it distorts our understanding. We can’t fully understand why things are the way they are if we don’t understand how we got here. I appreciate the ways Alsup painstakingly recognizes the mental and emotional struggle some women experience when they read the Bible.

After copious research and consideration, she concludes God’s curse on man and woman in Genesis 3:16boils down to this: “Man’s root problem from the fall leads to a frustrated idolatry of work, while the woman’s lead to a frustrated idolatry of man” (66). She provides substantial evidence of this pattern throughout countries and cultures. Yet, she also reminds us, the fall isn’t the end of the story. Christ came to free us from the curse, and we should make his redemption the highlight of our story.

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