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Book Review: For Such a Time

For Such a Time: Chosen Women of the Bible

by Ed Dickerson
Published by Pacific Press in April 2017, 143 pages

“I wanted to take an honest look at the question: ‘How did God respond when women took the lead?’ . . . . I wanted to know how God responded to women who, ‘when thwarted by the male world or when they find it lacking in moral insight or practical initiative, do not hesitate to take their destiny, or the nation’s, into their own hands.’”

It is this question that led author Ed Dickerson to investigate over a dozen Bible women who took the initiative in certain situations. Tamar (Judah’s daughter-in-law), Jochebed, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Hannah, Abigail, Bathsheba, the Woman of Shunem, Esther, Mary of Nazareth, The Woman at the Well, The Bleeding Woman, The Syrophoenician Woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary of Magdala each have a chapter that looks at their actions and how God responded to these actions.

Ed has a high view of Scripture and he has immersed himself in the biblical narratives where these enterprising women appear. He highlights elements in the text and explains them without adding to the stories; he doesn’t embellish the stories with fiction. Through Ed’s writing, I learned many new things and my understanding of these women—and how God worked through them and blessed them—has been enriched.

As with most books, I don’t completely agree with everything it contains, but the few points where I have a different view are very few. Also, there is no denominational bias in the writing.

One thing that stood out to me, though, was that Ed regards women, to some degree, as “mysterious” and that they may use “feminine wiles.” As a woman reading the Bible, I’ve never felt that the female characters, in general, are more inscrutable than the male characters. And I’ve never felt that any of the women in Ed’s book use especially feminine methods to achieve their purposes if we exclude motherhood. Ed’s honest admissions about the differences he sees between men and women are thought-provoking.

Ed ends each chapter by comparing the featured woman with a male Bible character. For the most part, I didn’t find the comparisons compelling. I asked Ed about this and he explained, “I wanted to pre-empt any notion on the part of the reader that ‘she did well, for a woman.’ I wanted to point out that these women did well by any measure, often overcoming greater obstacles than the men did.”

In the final chapter, Ed relates what he has discovered by studying the women’s stories. Here is a snippet of one of his findings.

“These stories not only defy the stereotypes of their culture but they refute those of our time. In fact I increasingly realized that none of the standard approaches to women’s roles, in the past or in contemporary culture, explained what I saw in Scripture.”

For Such a Time is well-written, conversational in style, and aimed at the average reader, especially American readers. (There are several analogies used in the book about American institutions such as the Oval Office and Pony Express.) I am glad I read it. It is a short yet worthwhile book for anyone wanting to learn more about these Bible women, their part in the history of God’s people, and the implications of God’s responses to their actions. For Such a Time is available on Amazon here.

Ed Dickerson holds a master’s degree in religious education from Andrews University (in Michigan), a Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education, and he is executive director of Grounds for Belief, a ministry devoted to retaining and empowering young adults. Ed mailed me a copy of his book with no obligation on my part to review it. I’m glad to recommend his book.

More book reviews are here.
My articles on women in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) are here.
My articles on women in the Gospels are here.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: For Such a Time

  1. Thanks Marg

  2. Marg, thank you so much for your research and comments. They really are helpful and insightful. Here in my part of Texas, at the church I am a member of, we have started a women’s forum for the purpose of discussing the women in the Old and New Testaments. We have had two sessions so far and the women were delighted with all that they had learned about the women in the Early Church and the New Testament. So, they have asked for more. The clergy and another lady and I will be meeting next week to plan future forums. Your blogs have been so helpful to us all and I, and they, thank you so much. MegG

    1. That’s great to hear, Margaret.

  3. Hi Marg, I was wondering your opinion on the topic of sports.

    I feel like Christian Americans worship sports more than they do God, and it’s really starting to get on my last nerve.

    I don’t see anything wrong with playing a sport as a hobby… but when it gets to the professional level, I feel that it just gets ridiculous. I believe 1 Corinthians 9:25 is a great example of that. Whoever the speaker is is basically saying that it’s stupid to chase awards that ultimately have nothing to do with Christ! God doesn’t care how good of athletes we are… so why should we? The only good that can come out of sports is if you enjoy it of course. Or the purpose is to get in exercise. But in those two circumstances, the point isn’t to win a trophy.

    But I feel that a lot of people deceive themselves when they say they’re athletes for “the glory of God”. I don’t think that’s true! I think they’re deceiving themselves! I think what they ACTUALLY care about is the glory of their athletic ability, the glory of their team, the glory of their school, etc. I did this for 12 years as a competitive dancer (and for two years as a tennis player), and I think a lot more Christians do this than we’re willing to admit!

    But the glory of those three things are ultimately MEANINGLESS.

    So what do you think? Do you think that sports can be used for good or for bad depending on the intent of doing them?

    1. I know of a few athletes who totally believe their athleticism is a gift from God that they need to use for God’s glory. But that doesn’t mean we should worship athletes or any person who excels in their abilities. That’s pretty much all I can say about this.

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