Tag Archives: christian books for women

Book Review: Reformation Women by Rebecca VanDoodeward

It isn’t every day that I get an email asking me to review a book and I say “Hey! I know her!” about the author. I know some people live that sort of life, but I don’t. So imagine my delight when asked by a third party to review a book written by another minister’s wife within my small Presbytery. That isn’t, however, what made me jump at the chance to read this. My summer time reading has all been on a theme of faithful women serving the church biblically, so a chance to read another book on the theme, set during the Reformation, was an easy yes.

Reformation Women is a collection of biographies. Each chapter focuses on the complete life of a woman who served the protestant Church during the period of history known as the Reformation. While the lives of some over lap, each woman is covered in her own right. In the preface, VanDoodeward expresses the methodology with which she selected the women in the book. Each woman was chosen in the hopes of introducing Christian women of today to Christian women of the past with whom we are not as familiar. In that vein some of the most famous names of Reformation women are absent from this work, because of the excellent works already available on their lives. Instead, the author chose lesser known, but not less deserving, women to highlight.

The collection is fascinating. Other than a connection to the Reformation, these women have very little in common. Some are married, some widowed, one remained single. Some had many children, some few children, one grieved having no surviving children. Many were born into some form of nobility, but not all, and several of those who were found themselves in poverty because of their protestant views. Some were quiet, some outspoken. Some served primarily within their home, while others served in different spheres. What interested me the most, however, was that several of these women were published authors, and only a few of them were married to ministers. A reader coming to this book with a view that all “biblical women” fit into a narrow criteria will be shocked at how diverse in gifting, calling, and life experience these women are, while all remaining faithful to the word of God, and devoted to the Church.

This is not an academic work. I intend to read these chapters to my children this school year, and I have no doubt they will be able to follow and understand the content. The chapters are relatively short, and easily read, but that is not to say it is a simplistic or shallow work. Every chapter is meticulously footnoted, with not only bibliographical citations (a fascinating list of works in themselves) but also additional historical and research information. The attached timeline at the end of the book is also helpful, and each chapter is capable of standing alone without a deeper understanding of the larger events in Reformation history. Still, there is an assumption of broad Reformation knowledge here that the average reader may not have. I hope that this will be an introduction for many – an appetizer of sorts – into a fascinating time in church and world history.

I found Reformation Women to be a personally encouraging, and intellectually satisfying book. More than that, I think it is a necessary book. The ongoing and diverse conversations regarding what makes a “biblical woman” need the historic grounding that this sort of book provides. I hope Rebecca, or another author, also offers us similar biographies of women from other times and places in church history.


Book Review: The Envy of Eve by Melissa Kruger

The Envy of Eve by Melissa Kruger

It has been my pleasure, recently, to review several excellent studies for women, and this one continues the trend. The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa Kruger came to me at a very appropriate time. In this season of our life, with small children and long hours of work for Jonathan and the temporary nature of seminary relationships, it’s easy for me to excuse my covetousness as “understandable restlessness” instead of the sinful discontent it really is.

Laid out in two parts, Mrs. Kruger first explores what covetousness really is and points us to Christ as the only solution. She follows this up with five chapters on specific areas in which we covet: money and possessions, romantic relationships, family and friendship, seasons and circumstances, and giftedness and abilities.Rooted in scripture and grace, I found myself lovingly chastised, and always pointed to hope in Christ.

I find myself mulling over some of her points as I go about my daily life. The general thesis of the book is this: “Our core problem in coveting is not our attitude or the circumstances we find ourselves in; our core problem is our unbelief in some characteristic of God.” This is ringing true with me this week, but I had never contemplated the correlation. The times in my life I have most fallen to covetousness are the times I least believed in God’s provision, faithfulness and goodness. Another powerful truth that has been rattling around in my heart and mind is the idea that we cannot love someone if we are coveting anything of theirs. I have long been uncomfortable with the common response, “. . . must be nice . . .” when one hears of another’s blessings; but Melissa Kruger has helped me to see that this is actually hatred fueled by covetousness. Coveting is, as Kruger points out, the antithesis to the command to love one another as ourselves.

Just as I found myself going back to my last book long after the review was written, I know I will be coming back and re-reading The Envy of Eve for a long time. I highly recommend it for a women’s bible study .

You can read more about The Envy of Eve here at the blog tour site, and my friend Sarah wrote another excellent review which you can read by clicking here.