Women of the Bible | CBE International

You are here

Women of the Bible

Where are the good female preachers? Female preachers have been prevalent throughout history and one only needs to look at the right historical resources to read about their activity.1 However, women proclaiming the Good News to God’s people can also be found in our Bibles. One such woman is Anna from the tribe of Asher. In the earliest days of Jesus’ life as a human being, God sent the prophet Anna (whose name means “God’s grace”). A devout woman having been widowed after seven years of marriage, Anna lived and served in the temple where she fasted and prayed day and night. The verb used for Anna’s service is latruo in Luke 2:37. This word is used more than 80% of the time in the New Testament to denote worship, and sometimes even prie... Read more
Some people dismiss the Bible because of its lack of attention to women. However, a close reading of the Bible reveals patterns of doublet and parallel stories that bring attention and esteem to each gender. In fact, when compared to the sacred literature of other religions, the Bible provides an astounding representation of both men and women. Let's take a look at some examples. Story doublets are accounts that appear together. They occur frequently in the New Testament. Matthew’s account places double healings together: the hemorrhaging woman and Jairus’ daughter, followed by two blind men (Matt. 9:18–31). In Mark, the Syrophoenician woman seeks healing on behalf of her daughter, and the people of Decapolis approach Jesus on behalf of a deaf and mu... Read more
In considering the early chapters of Genesis last week, we observed how human identity is inseparable from being created in God’s image as male and female. What is more, our identity—as created in God’s image—shapes our purpose. For this reason, both Adam and Eve share authority in caring for the world and each otherbecause both are created in God’s image. Yet Eve is not only created in God’s image, God also made her an ezer, or “strong help.” Adam’s aloneness—the only "not good" in Eden—is overcome only with the creation of Eve, which emphasizes her essential contribution in sharing authority and working beside Adam. Despite sin and patriarchy—consequences of the fall—women continue to l... Read more
Have you revisited Mary and Martha lately (Luke 10:38–42)? You remember their house where Martha is “over busy” making preparations for Jesus’ arrival, and Mary ignores the obvious need to help her sister, preferring to listen at the feet of Jesus. In desperation, Martha appeals to Jesus, the male authority in the house, to get her sister’s priorities in line with the cultural expectations for women. Martha appears to be reprimanded by Jesus while Mary is vindicated. Many times, this story is interpreted as presenting one sister upheld at the expense of the other, preferring women who do not complain. Mary and Martha’s story has traditionally been interpreted to honor Mary’s listening over Martha’s service. However, could the sisters have... Read more
Margaret Mowczko
Ever heard of Sera, Aksah or Sheerah?  I hadn’t . . . until I decided to read through the Old Testament, slowly, keeping an eye out for every woman mentioned.  Here’s a little something about these three influential women. SERAH – Genesis 46:17; Numbers 26:46; 1 Chronicles 7:30. Serah was the daughter of Asher, one of the twelve sons of Jacob.  Serah is mentioned by name in three Old Testament genealogies but not much information is given about her.  Apparently she lived an extraordinarily long time.  Because of her longevity, she lived to know both her grandfather Jacob (born around 2000BC) and, five hundred years later, Moses (born around 1500BC). According to Midrashic interpretations... Read more
Tim Krueger
I recently heard a sermon delivered by Dr. Peter T. Vogt, a professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul, MN. In it, he shared some insights about the story of Naomi and Ruth (Listen to the sermon here—it starts around the 40-minute mark). With his permission, I have summarized some of them here. One of the first things we learn about Israel, God’s covenant people, is that God didn’t choose them because they were particularly special; he chose them to be his instruments to bless the world. The second thing we learn about Israel is that it repeatedly failed to be a blessing. Instead, it adopted the practices of its neighbors, always wandering away from Yahweh. Naomi, however, stands in contrast to Israel’s failure to influence its neighbor... Read more
Tim Krueger
 I recently heard a sermon delivered by Dr. Peter T. Vogt, a professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul, MN. In it, he shared some insights about the story of Naomi and Ruth (Listen to the sermon here—it starts around the 40-minute mark). With his permission, I have summarized some of them here. One of the first things we learn about Israel, God’s covenant people, is that God didn’t choose them because they were particularly special; he chose them to be his instruments to bless the world. The second thing we learn about Israel is that it repeatedly failed to be a blessing. Instead, it adopted the practices of its neighbors, always wandering away from Yahweh. Naomi, however, stands in contrast to Israel’s failure to influence its neighbo... Read more
 "Queen Esther daughter of Abihail, along with the Jew Mordecai, gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim" (Esther 9:29, NRSV). Many people in Minnesota get really excited about fall. We welcome cooler weather, colorful trees, and a chance to share treasures from our garden. Fall is also a vivid reminder that we are placed on Earth to help one another. Almost every harvest, I hear a friend or coworker describe how their family, friends, or neighbors worked together to help get the apples picked, or the wheat and beets harvested. The farms on which many grew up are within a day’s drive, and serve as ready reminders that we need each other. To realize this is to live close to the truth that our devotion and even our faith in God is often... Read more
Many know the story of Queen Esther from the Bible. However, often our own culture and struggles can lead us to “discover” lessons that are not part of the text, or miss important details that are. Often in churches, Esther becomes obscured to the point where this brave woman who was mightily used by God becomes passively subject to the decisions of men. For example, a marriage book released recently by a popular pastor and his wife used the story of Esther to promote obedience to one’s husband, contrasting disobedient Queen Vashti with a “submissive” Esther. Is submission to one’s husband truly the lesson of this narrative? Esther, also known as Hadassah, was an orphan, one of the Jewish exiles living as a minority in Persia. Against all odds, she mar... Read more
One famous woman who requires explanation from those who do not believe women should occupy the highest levels of leadership is Junia, “outstanding among the apostles.” Since Joanna is a Hebrew version of the name Junia, some believe Junia may even be the Joanna Luke mentions in his gospel (Richard Bauckham in Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels). Having been healed by Jesus, she accompanied him on his travels and supported him financially in furthering the proclamation of the kingdom of God. After Jesus’ death, she met him again (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; Gal. 1:1, 15-17). After Jesus’ resurrection, Paul recognizes Junia as an apostle just as he does himself, Silvanus, Timothy, Barnabas, and those among the twelve. Later, Junia—and possibly h... Read more

Pages