A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Andrew Ballitch
Summary and Review
In her introduction, Rebecca McLaughlin makes the point that Christianity is anything but misogynistic. In fact, Christianity has been disproportionately attractive to women from the beginning and indisputably the best thing for women’s rights and equality. Here any kind of ideological agenda stops and McLaughlin surveys the New Testament evidence and lets it speak for itself.
McLaughlin’s analysis of the canonical Gospels is organized around six topics, with one chapter devoted to each. The topics are prophecy, discipleship, nourishment, healing, forgiveness, and life. Chapter one looks at Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna, all of whom had the gift of prophecy to recognize Jesus as messiah. Chapter two notes the female itinerant disciples of Jesus and focuses on Mary and Martha of Bethany. Chapter three explores the four conversations Jesus had with women that utilized the topic of food and drink: his mother Mary at the wedding at Cana and the water-into-wine miracle, the woman at the well and the offer of living water, the Syro-Phoenician woman who mentioned the dogs getting table scraps, and the mother who gave the “sons of thunder” their nickname and the unpleasantness of the cup James and John would be required to drink. Chapter four catalogues the various women healed by Jesus. Chapter five studies how Jesus interacted with women compromised by sexual sin. And chapter six highlights the key role women play as witnesses to Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection, which is really an apologetic for the veracity of the narratives and the elevation of women. No one in the first century would make up a story with women as the crucial eyewitnesses.
McLaughlin’s style is engaging, conversational, and accessible. Though she holds a PhD in Renaissance literature from Cambridge University, she is a veteran of writing accessibly at a popular level, with previous books including Confronting Christianity:10 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (2020), The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims (2021), and Confronting Jesus: 9 Encounters with the Hero of the Gospels (2022). Her approach is fairly simple, namely, she notices women in the Gospels and draws her readers into their shoes. Her purpose is primarily devotional as her subtitle indicates, rather than polemical, making the study refreshing. Jesus Through the Eyes of Women is a model of gender sensitivity without compromising to the spirit of our age.
Andrew S. Ballitch (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Westwood Alliance Church in Mansfield, Ohio.
Buy the books
JESUS THROUGH THE EYES OF WOMEN: HOW THE FIRST FEMALE DISCIPLES HELP US KNOW AND LOVE THE LORD, by Rebecca McLaughlin