In the lead-up to EQUIP conference 2015 we're going to review some of the books that will be for sale (plus some others mentioned at the EQUIP Ministry Wives Conference last month!). To begin proceedings Sarah Cameron has reviewed Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word.
We know that it’s good to meet with other Christian women to read the Bible, but how should we actually go about it? Do we look for a Bible verse that speaks to our current situations, like Matthew 11:28 when we’re feeling weary? Or do we look for a Bible passage to answer our current decision dilemma about that new job? Are we drawn to topical series after topical series? Or maybe we just feel more comfortable reading a book about the Bible and learn from someone else’s insight?
Jen Wilkin helpfully critiques these, and other methods in the book Women of the Word: How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds. Instead, she puts forward a case for improving our Biblical literacy, where we not only know our Bibles well but are able to interpret and apply passages faithfully. Why? So that we would be equipped to love God more.
So how to grow in our Bible literacy? Jen puts forward a model for studying / reading God’s word, with purpose, perspective, patience, process and prayer (don’t you love a good alliteration to something- easy to remember!). In a nutshell we’re talking about:
- Purpose: Understanding how individual passages fit in to God’s overarching story of creation – sin – redemption – restoration that the Bible documents from Genesis to Revelation.
- Perspective: Digging deeper into the passage at hand and seeing how its message is communicated to a human audience by a human author living in a particular time and place.
- Patience: Improving our Bible literacy is not something that will happen overnight but is a long-term process as our hearts and minds are changed. I found this to be a particularly helpful reminder when I just want instant gratification!
- Process: Here Jen provides some practical tips for improving our comprehension, interpretation and application of the Bible.
- Prayer: Considers the importance of incorporating prayer into all parts of our study – before, during and after.
We never graduate from needing to read our Bible’s well, so this book is helpful for Christian women at all stages of life and all levels of maturity in Christ. It’s not just a book for Bible study leaders either, as I found it helpful for thinking through my own personal quiet times and how I read the Bible one to one with others. Jen’s book is one I can see myself returning to over and over in times to come because of her simple and easy to understand explanations and insightful critiques of our Bible study habits.