I set out to read Ruth A. Tucker’s Dynamic Women of the Bible with the hopes of being able to find a decent resource to encourage women with. I had no idea of whom Ruth Tucker was until I read this book. That will be important later. For now, let’s examine this book under it’s own merit.
Within the first chapter, it was readily apparent that much of what this book was going to offer was pure, idle speculation on the nature of the women of the Bible. Interestingly enough, the authors who penned the scriptures were not moved by the Spirit to write much about many of these women. Truthfully, there is a ridiculous amount left open for speculation. However, I do not find such speculation profitable for the reader or the maturation of their faith.
The really interesting thing that I found was that through the midst of this, Tucker acknowledges that the point of the scriptures was not to highlight these women. Not necessarily, anyhow. The primary focus of the scriptures is redemptive history through the patriarchal lineage tracing to Christ, what His specific ministry was here on earth (yet also now, being seated at the right hand of the Father, and His eschatological purpose), and what implications this redemptive history has for those who confess Christ as Savior and Lord.
While these narratives are given in scripture, Tucker admits to being curious as to what their attitudes were. Surely, they were real women, as she writes. However, this is seemingly where Ruth Tucker lands: some strange middle ground where she asks a ton of questions that the reader is left to postulate upon.
The chapters move from character to character, speculating large chunks of narrative, such as, “There have been so many monthly periods she cannot begin to count them. Cramps and PMS sometimes lasting for days. And what a mess! No corner drugstore where she could stock up on tampons and sanitary napkins or buy a bottle of Midol. If she were like most women, she would have begun ‘the change’ in her late forties or fifties, bleeding at times like a stuck pig. Then would come the near fainting spells and what could only be described as grand-mal hot flashes—never-ending menopause. How long has it been since she made love with Abraham? Years? She doesn’t keep track.”
Granted, I am a man, and beyond the biological aspects of menstrual cycles and menopause, I don’t get it. However, to speculate on this simply seems to be trying to relate much more to the story than we have. Did she have this in commonality with all women? Of course. Do we need to speculate on the heaviness of Sarah’s period, her menopause experience, or her sex life with Abraham? Not really. It does nothing to substantiate Sarah’s character nor does it add particular value to this discussion.
Tucker does move beyond menstruation in this chapter, but to more and more speculation in the midst of the legitimate Genesis narrative. She presents some of what the text says, and then elaborates with mere speculation.
Through what I did read in this book, I was overwhelmed by the vast majority of biblical gossip Tucker purported to make her points. I decided to give the book 150 pages (the halfway point) to see if it would get any better – I made it to page 65 and skimmed some other chapters remaining.
What I got out of it was that the Patriarchs are viewed too positively and that modern biblical scholars comment too negatively on the sins of these women; Priscilla wrote the book of Hebrews; Lot’s wife got a bad rap (Sapphira possibly, too); and a whole boatload of other hypotheticals.
I have mentioned this before, and I will do it again here: research the author for a minimum of one hour and see what you can dig up.
For what I found on Ruth Tucker in 15 min:
- She is egalitarian.
- She is a biblical feminist.
- She has about 10 blogs devoted to slamming her previous employer (again, I don’t know everything that happened in this situation – but surely there is a more mature way to handle these things).
- She has other blogs where she spends more time speculating and asking questions than she ever formulates biblical answer to.
My point is not to slam her in any way. My point is simply to show that she has developed a set of presuppositions by which she operates under as she approaches the scriptures. We all do this – however, some just do it in a poor, unbiblical way. What you read in their books will evidence this, always. It is far more valuable to read from authors who want to be mastered by what the scripture dictates. They may make mistakes in their hermeneutic, but it will not be altogether unprofitable.
You know you find a good author when you can see their desire is to be mastered by the text. They don’t spend tons of time positing on the details they don’t have – they unpack what they do have and seek to make it applicable for their readers. I have been growing more and more in my appreciation of these types of men and women because they have an earnest desire to show others what God’s Word evidences and what He desires for us.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.