Preaching women of the Bible

Book Review: Out of the Shadows – Preaching the Women of the Bible by Kate Bruce and Liz Shercliff

Reviewed by Rev’d Canon Jenny Wilson

This book is an excellent resource for the preacher.

The authors begin with the character of Wisdom, portrayed in scripture as the woman Sophia, and then follow well known and little-known women of the Old and New Testaments devoting, in most cases, a chapter to each.

Using the image of the shadow, each woman is portrayed as having been kept in a shadow and each woman is then, through the insights of the two authors, in some sense liberated from that shadow. Eve, for example is imaged as being held in the ‘long shadow of shame’. Ruth is found hidden in the ‘shadow of racism’.

Perhaps the best-known woman of the Bible, Mary, is explored as being trapped in the ‘shadow of tradition.’ As one who has often challenged the image of Mary as a timid woman dressed in pale blue, this ‘shadow’ rang true for me.

Here, for example, are one author’s thoughts on Mary’s meeting with Elizabeth:

‘The announcement of the new kingdom does not come out of the power or splendour of the Temple, but out of the companionship of two women in a home: a new prophetic relationship in the new sacred space’.

Each chapter quotes any words actually spoken by the woman in the scriptures before an excellent exploration of the text in which the woman’s story is found. The chapter concludes with an example of a sermon followed by helpful notes on the homiletic techniques being used. 

This book is readable, insightful and profoundly hopeful. It will inform both preachers, teachers of homiletics and those who look to the scriptures hoping for liberation for women and, indeed, all people.

Preachers are invited to send reviews of books they have found helpful to Bill Condie, Diocesan Media Officer at [email protected] or Jenny Wilson, Convenor of The Company of Preachers  at [email protected]