Essential for Teachers and for Learners

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin:  A Book Review

I can’t recall the last time I devoured a book in one evening, but that’s what happened with Women of the Word.  I’m sure the reason is Jen Wilkin’s laser focus on the topics that (after my family) are most important to me — knowing the Bible and teaching the Bible.  I found the book to be immediately relevant and useful, not only in my teaching ministry, but also in my personal study.

Be advised that Jen Wilkin is not putting forth something that is earth-shatteringly new.  If she were, you shouldn’t read the book, because, truly, the only way to know, understand, and apply the Bible is to, well . . . read it.  This is what makes Women of the Word intensely practical:  Jen Wilkin acknowledges that studying the Bible takes time, that it is possible the reader will not understand it immediately, and that it requires significant effort.  She also makes an airtight case for the fact that reading and studying the Bible is worth all the effort one expends!

Most people come to the Bible with two wrong assumptions:  (1)It’s all about me; (2)I want God to speak to my heart.  Women of the Word argues for a one hundred eighty degree change of focus:  (1)Let the Bible speak of God; (2)Let the mind transform the heart.

After a thorough argument for Biblical literacy, Jen Wilkin sets forth a very helpful guideline for achieving that very thing.

1.  Study with Purpose — View all of Scripture in light of the big-picture redemptive story arc that transcends all the “small stories.”

2.  Study with Perspective — Understand the author, his context, his audience, his purpose, and his style/genre.

3.  Study with Patience — Allow yourself to sit in the uncomfortable seat of “I don’t know,”  before consulting commentaries.

4.  Study with Process — Ask yourself three questions:  What does it say?  What does it mean?  What is God saying to me about change?

5.  Study with Prayer — Always.  Pray about purpose; pray about perspective; pray for patience; make prayer part of the process.  Always.

The author proceeds to demonstrate this approach with a study of James 1, and then concludes with an entire chapter of helpful guidelines for teachers.  I found this to be the most valuable section of the book (and the reason I stayed up past my bedtime!), because it felt like sitting down with someone who loves to teach and hearing her heart.

I am very excited about applying the concepts of this book, and, specifically, have been challenged to hold off on the commentaries, make better use of cross references, and to start providing printed pages of the text to my class so we can mark them up together.  Goal for the near future:  writing weekly homework questions to guide my students’ reading assignment.

Women of the Word will continue to serve as a reference for me, and I recommend it to teachers and learners who want to sharpen their ability to hear God speak to them from His Word.

Disclosure:  I received this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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