Unexpected Love: God’s heart revealed in Jesus’ conversations with women

by Julie Zine Coleman
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2012

Julie Zine Coleman* contacted me a while back and asked whether I might be interested in reviewing her book Unexpected Love. My first impulse was to decline her offer. However, after reading an excerpt of her book on Amazon, I really wanted to read more. So I said yes, just so I could read the rest of the book.

Julie is a wonderful storyteller. She retells the stories of encounters that Jesus had with nine different women, expanding on the gospel accounts, but there are no fictional embellishments, and there is no sap.

What I love about the narratives is that Julie sets each scene by effortlessly weaving in an authentic cultural and religious context. She provides depth, but the stories are easy and enjoyable to read.

Each of the nine chapters feature a different encounter between Jesus and a woman. The relevant Scripture passage is provided, followed by Julie’s retelling of the encounter. Each chapter also has a section entitled Going Deeper. In this section Julie asks probing questions that arise from the narrative. For instance, she asks why the gospel writers intertwine the story of the hemorrhaging woman with the Jairus account. And she asks why Jesus would instruct the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more”. Isn’t that impossible? Julie answers her questions with insightful, sound commentary. I gained some interesting new perspectives from the Going Deeper sections

Each of the nine chapters also includes a short devotional, inspired by the passage. Julie then completes every chapter with four or five short thoughts entitled Food for Thought and a few paragraphs for those who journal. So there is something for everyone. Plus Julie has free handouts and lesson plans on her website that can be used in groups.

Julie aims her ministry at women. She wants women to live in the freedom that Jesus has brought. She believes that, with his redemptive ministry, Jesus “intended to restore women to the glory that they had at creation.” Julie writes that, “Nowhere can we see that intent better displayed than in the Jesus’ conversations with women.”

I think this book would make an excellent, inexpensive gift, and I would personally use it for a group Bible Study.

*Julie Zine Coleman is a full-time writer and speaker, and has an MA in biblical studies from Capital Bible Seminary.  You can find out more about her ministry and other books on her website, here.

Update 29.06.16: The Junia Project has included Unexpected Love in their post entitled 6 Great Studies on Women in the Bible.