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. She expands 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 features 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 haemorrhaging 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 and 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, “Nowhere can we see that intent better displayed than in 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. (Update 29.06.16: The Junia Project has included Unexpected Love in their post entitled 6 Great Studies on Women in the Bible.)
On Purpose: Understanding God’s Freedom for Women Through Scripture
Julie Zine Coleman has written a new book, published by Kregel in 2022, which explores the basics of Christian egalitarianism. I wrote the following recommendation for the book.
What sets Julie’s book apart from others on similar topics is heart. Julie writes with kindness and common sense and with her eyes on the gospel of Jesus. Her exploration of scripture is easy to understand, and her anecdotes from personal experience are warm and relatable. On Purpose is an excellent book for those reconsidering traditional interpretations of scripture that have for too long stifled and suppressed women.
More information about On Purpose is on Amazon here.
* Julie Zine Coleman is a full-time writer and speaker. She 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.
My article entitled Jesus and Women is here.
Short articles that look at the basics of Christian egalitarianism are here.