Review: Women of the Word [5★]

Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word equips ordinary women to study the Bible deeply, interpret it soundly, and apply it personally. The principles Wilkin shares may initially sound lofty, perhaps a little too theologically dense to some readers, but she breaks them down into plain, bite-size segments that are easy to digest. 

Wilkin’s desire, as she puts it, is to make the Bible (and the God revealed in it) more accessible and approachable. Her first task is to point out wrong motivations and methods for study. She argues that an understanding of Scripture is infinitely worth the time required. Then she presents her five essential components to Bible study–purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer–and devotes a chapter to expanding on each of those pieces. 

As the daughter of a dedicated Bible scholar and a graduate of two Christian colleges, I have received abundant instruction on how to study God’s Word, but I found Jen Wilkin’s approach surprising in its simplicity and refreshing for its accessibility. Each of the components that Wilkin’s teaches is adaptable to greater or lesser study. Each individual step is stripped of its theological terminology and intimidating intensity, and reduced to the most basic forms. 

However, don’t mistake Wilkin’s simplicity for laziness or cheap shortcuts. Her love for and value of the Bible is clear in every chapter. She advocates for every believer to bring care, devotion, dedication, and reverence to their study of God’s message. 

“Learning requires work,” she states plainly. 

“We think that learning the Bible should be as natural as breathing in and out; if knowing God’s Word is so good for us, surely he would not make it difficult for us to do so. But learning the Bible requires discipline, and discipline is something we don’t naturally embrace.” (p. 83)

Wilkin’s message is extremely accessible and her method is entirely doable, but above all, the focus of her book is on God and bringing glory to Him. The most fundamental principle that she shares with her readers is that the Bible is preeminently about God, and we study it to learn about Him, not to help ourselves through self-improvement. 

“We must first ask,” says Wilkin, “‘What does this passage teach me about God?’ before we ask it to teach us anything about ourselves.”

This book is a brief but all-too-valuable read for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of God through His Word–from the newest student to the most advanced scholar.

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