Wineskins Archive

January 13, 2014

Book Review: Through His Eyes – God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible (Jul – Aug 2009)

Filed under: — @ 12:13 pm and

by Alan Cochrum
July – August, 2009

Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible
By Jerram Barrs
Crossway, $19.99

If you’re the sort of person who likes to poke the conversational fire – or perhaps even to toss in the occasional string of firecrackers just to keep things interesting – you can hardly do better than with the topics of religion and sex/gender. And given that Jerram Barrs is writing about both, here’s your chance to stock up on fuel for thought.

Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible doesn’t deal with authority roles and the New Testament passages that discuss them. Barrs’ aim is “to look at the far more extensive material in Scripture about God’s love and respect for women, material that is often neglected.”

The St. Louis author begins with Genesis and proceeds through most of the Bible, discussing the stories of Eve, Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, the woman of Samaria and others. Martha exemplifies the unfortunate urge to “do something for the Lord rather than to receive something from him.” The “Proverbs 31 woman” becomes an example for men and women, not just the latter.

Barrs develops his material at length, not trying to maintain a narrow focus. In the end, the book arguably is more about biblical figures who happened to be women than about “the Bible’s view of women.”

Through His Eyes benefits from its irenic tone and its view from angles that many readers may not have considered. But its assertions are occasionally problematic, as in its discussion of Rahab’s deception or when it offhandedly states: “Some believers are troubled by the teaching that [human beings] are those who physically bear the image of God and insist that it has to be our spiritual nature that shows the image and likeness of God.”

The most at-length instance of this comes in the discussion of the patriarch Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law Tamar, who in the guise of a prostitute becomes pregnant by Judah when he reneges on his duty to provide her with another husband. Barr sees Tamar as acting out of “faith in the Lord and her sense of what was appropriate faithfulness to the memory of her husband.” But her actions read much more like those of someone who is simply angry at being defrauded and kicked to the curb: All right then, I’ll fix his little red wagon!

Through His Eyes contains much that is valuable – just be sure to examine it with … well, clear eyes.New Wineskins

Alan Cochrum

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