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You know the women of the Bible, but you don't know them like this...
It's easy for Christian women—young and old—to get lost between the opportunities and demands of the present and the biblical teachings of the past. They live in a confusing world, caught in the crossfire between church and culture. Although home and family still remain central, more women than ever, by choice or by necessity, are blending home, career, and ministry. They ...
You know the women of the Bible, but you don't know them like this...
It's easy for Christian women—young and old—to get lost between the opportunities and demands of the present and the biblical teachings of the past. They live in a confusing world, caught in the crossfire between church and culture. Although home and family still remain central, more women than ever, by choice or by necessity, are blending home, career, and ministry. They need strong biblical role models to help them meet these challenges.
Building on solid scholarship and a determination to wrestle honestly with perplexing questions, author Carolyn Custis James sheds new light on ancient stories that brings the women of the Bible into the twenty-first century. This fresh look at the women in the Bible unearths surprising new insights and a powerful message that will leave readers feeling challenged, encouraged, and deeply valued.
Rediscover and be inspired by:
* and others
1. A Forgotten Legacy — Eve...27
2. The Unknown Soldier — Mrs. Noah...47
3. Life in the Margins — Sarah...65
4. The Invisible Woman — Hagar...85
5. Missing in Action — Tamar...103
6. The Power Behind the Throne — Hannah...121
7. A Sleeping Beauty — Esther...141
8. The First Disciple — Mary of Nazareth...163
9. Apostle to the Apostles — Mary Magdalene...183
10. Recovering the Blessed Alliance — Paul and the Women of Philippi...205
Conclusion: Lost and Found...225
Lost Women of the BibleCopyright 2005 by Carolyn Custis James Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data James, Carolyn Custis, 1948 — Lost women of the Bible : finding strength and significance through their stories / Carolyn Custis James. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN-13: 978-0-310-26390-6 ISBN-10: 0-310-26390-5 1. Women in the Bible. 2. Christian women — Religious life. I. Title. BS575.J36 2005220.9'2'082 — dc22 2005017705
This edition printed on acid-free paper.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Soci ety. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Coun cil of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, and are used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible: New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois. All rights reserved.
The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Published in association with the literary agency of Wolgemuth and Associates, Inc.
Interior design by Beth Shagene Interior illustrations 2005 by Joel Spector Printed in the United States of America
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FOCUS: When our lives turn out differently than we expect, when we believe we've missed our true calling as women or that our contributions aren't important, it's easy to get lost. The questions that trouble us when we're lost in our own lives take us deeper in our relationship with God.
FOR DISCUSSION, READ: Psalm 13
1. Describe a situation where you felt lost in your own life or in your relationship with God.
2. What questions did your struggle raise about yourself?
3. What questions did your struggle raise about God?
4. According to Psalm 13, why did King David feel lost in his relationship with God?
5. How do your questions compare with the questions he was asking?
6. Why are we sometimes reluctant to ask these kinds of questions? Why are they important tools to help us grow in our relationship with God?
7. What did David expect to discover as he asked his questions of God?
8. Why are the women in the Bible a logical place for us to begin searching for answers?
A Forgotten Legacy —
Eve She lost the woman God created her to be.
The last time I saw my grandmother, she was a thin shadow of her former self. My daughter was only a few months old, and more than anything I wanted my grandmother to see and hold her great-granddaughter before time ran out on us. I got my wish one afternoon during a visit to the Northwest when my mother drove us to the nursing home. I didn't allow myself to dwell on the fact that neither my grandmother nor Allison would remember this historic meeting that meant so much to me, but the moment I saw my grandmother's blank gaze and sagging form, there was no denying it. The fun-loving, intelligent, energetic woman I had known and admired all my life was nowhere to be seen. In her place a feeble, worn-out body slouched in a wheelchair along side several other wheelchair-bound individuals in varying stages of decline. It broke my heart to see her so altered. Yet even in her frail and failing condition, the presence of a baby energized her and brought a glimmer (just the slightest) of the woman I voice as she extended her trembling hands. 'Bring him here. We'll take care of him.'remembered. 'It's a baby! It's a baby!' she cried in a weak raspy Anyone who tried to reconstruct my grandmother from the shell that was left at the last, or who searched for clues to the legacy she passed down to her daughters and granddaughters in this final version of her, would be setting themselves up for failure. The penetrating blue eyes that caused my grandfather's knees to buckle, that devoured countless books including all the classics and just about everything C. S. Lewis ever wrote, that read to her children and made loving books a family tradition were now clouded over by macular degeneration. There was no trace of the beloved teacher of God's Word, who nurtured and influenced so many young women in the faith, not the least of whom were her own two daughters. Her well-worn Bible lay undisturbed on the table beside her bed. The vibrant woman I remembered — the woman God created her to be — was lost somewhere in a fallen, aging body that was no longer hospitable to her marvelous spirit.
The last time anyone saw Eve, she was only a shell of her for mer self too, a broken-down version of the woman God created her to be. The original Eve was lost in Paradise. Sadly, instead of remembering her in those earlier glory days, the world's memory of her was frozen in time at the worst possible moment — back in the Garden of Eden just as she swallowed a piece of forbidden fruit and served some to her husband. John Milton, the great English poet, couldn't get that image of Eve out of his mind.
Her rash hand in evil hour Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe That all was lost.
— JOHN MILTON, PARADISE LOST A bite of fruit, and everyone forgot God's stunning sixth-day assessment: 'It is not good for the man to be alone' (Genesis 2:18). We forgot the woman he created as the perfect remedy for man's lack. From the vantage point of hindsight, perhaps the man would have been better off without her, considering the damage she had done. Even Adam seemed to think so when he blamed her for his actions. 'The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it' (Genesis 3:12).
Eve's role as instigator in the debacle blotted out the wonder and significance of her creation out of Adam's side, along with Adam's rapturous delight in her. Rarely does anyone recall her as the sole inspiration of the world's first poetry. Even if she lived the rest of her life like Mother Teresa, the world can never forgive what she did to us in Eden. There's no talk of amnesty for the first human being to break rank and rebel against God. No chance we will forget the 'rash hand' that reached for the fruit. A few swift movements and it was over. Eve got lost in Paradise — as lost as any woman has ever been. What she was in earlier times is only a dim and distant memory.
THE TROUBLE WITH EVE We wouldn't dream of doing to my grandmother what we per sist in doing to Eve. We forget what Eve was like in her prime and try to reconstruct her legacy from the broken remnants that remained of her at the end.