Women of the Bible Q & A with Peter DeHaan
Peter DeHaan answers questions about his book, Women of the Bible.
Question 1: Why did you write this book?
Answer: Throughout my life I’ve sat through thousands of sermons and most all of them talked about the men in the Bible. They ignored women or gave them a mere footnote in the message.
If a sermon was ever about a woman, the director of women’s ministry might have given it, or it popped up on Mother’s Day. And frankly we don’t need another sermon about the Proverbs 31 Woman. All the messages I’ve heard about her miss the point.
The women of the Bible deserve more attention, and I want to give it to them. There’s so much they can teach us.
Q 2: What drew you to the women in the Bible?
A: Women make up slightly more than half the people on our planet, yet we don’t talk about biblical women too much in church. That is to our shame and our discredit. I desired to discover more about the women who appear in the Bible. I wanted to learn from them and share the insight that God gave me with others.
Q 3: In all due respect, how can a man write about women? What makes you qualified?
A: I’m glad you asked this question so that we can talk about it, but at the same time I wish it weren’t necessary. The short answer is that I believe God has given me a heart for women. Obviously, I can’t understand everything women go through, but that doesn’t disqualify me from writing about them, to encourage and inspire others.
In researching and writing this book God gave me a curiosity to ask questions other people would skip, to seek to understand these women’s circumstances, and to draw lessons from their lives. I put all those insights in the book. The outcome is what matters.
Q 4: What was your intent in publishing this book? How do you expect people to use it?
A: My goal was to compile and provide the information for readers to use as they saw fit. Some have treated it as a devotional and others as a Bible study. I’ve heard from people who’ve bought it as a reference and were glad to have it.
One reader intended to read one chapter a day but couldn’t put it down and kept turning pages. She read it in a couple of days. Many have told me they kept reading, with the pledge to read “just one more chapter.”
I also hope that small groups or classes will use it for a study or discussion guide.
Q 5: is this book just for women, or can men read it too?
A: I wrote the book for everyone. The fact that it’s about women, doesn’t mean that it’s only for women. The truths that it covers are universal, applying to both women and men.
Q 6: What did you learn about yourself as you worked on this book?
A: It seemed perfectly natural for me to write about women in the Bible, but I was surprised at how many people thought it was strange. That may make me atypical, but I prefer to think of it as me having a little bit of God’s heart for the female half of his creation.
Q 7: What surprised you most when you researched this book?
A: The character of Mary Magdalene has taken a hit in recent years. But after studying what scripture says about her a different story unfolded. Mary Magdalene was the one to carry the good news about the greatest event in the history of the world—Jesus’s resurrection of the dead—to the disciples. God didn’t have a man do it, even those that’s what the society of the day expected and even demanded.
This makes Mary Magdalene the first missionary for Jesus. Never forget that.Mary Magdalene was the first missionary for Jesus. Never forget that. Click To Tweet
Q 8: Many people criticize the Bible for how it portrays women. Does this make God sexist?
A person who reads the Bible quickly without a discerning eye—or a person who has never read it at all—might claim that the Bible treats women badly or that God is sexist. This, however, is far from the truth. Remember that God created us in his image, male and female. When he finished, he pronounced it as “very good.”
Yes, the Bible reveals God to us, but the narrative takes place during a time when sin badly distorted what God had in mind for the human beings he made. In this regard, the Bible reflects man’s mistakes, not God’s heart.
Q 9: Who is your favorite woman in the Bible? Why?
A: That’s such a great question. I have many favorites, so it’s hard to pick just one. Ruth is a longtime favorite because of her dedication to her mother-in-law and to God. Esther is another cherished favorite for using her position to influence the king and save her people from an inevitable genocide. I also like Judge Deborah and Rahab in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament I especially appreciate Priscilla because she often received first billing over her husband. And then there’s Rhoda. Her story, her faith, and her exuberance make me smile every time.
Q 10: Your subtitle is “The Victorious, the Victims, the Virtuous, and the Vicious.” Why did you select these words?
A: The overall arc in Women of the Bible is to celebrate the feminine half of God’s creation. This makes it natural to look at the victorious and the virtuous. But that’s not the complete picture. Due to sin’s impact, some of them are victims.
And there are a few who are just vicious. This is a reminder that terrible behavior isn’t the sole domain of men. Women can fall into evil as well. That’s why we must all be vigilant, to protect ourselves from falling into their error.
Q 11: How many women does your book cover? Why did you include that many?
A: I cover 135 women in Women of the Bible. Most books about biblical women address only a handful, usually twelve or less. And that omits a lot of interesting women and ignores what we can learn from them. Initially my goal was 100, but I quickly realized that wasn’t enough.
Although I could’ve kept writing and gone beyond 135, at that point I covered what I felt was important. To continue writing about some of the very obscure names that remained wouldn’t really add anything to the discussion. So, I stopped at 135.
Of course, that’s not to say there couldn’t be an expanded version of Women of the Bible in the future that would blow past this 135 number. An appendix in the book lists dozens more women I could add in the second edition—if there’s value in doing so.
Q 12: Will you write a counterpart to this book, Men of the Bible?
A: I’d never considered doing that, but some people have asked about it and one reader assumed I would. If I do so, to be fair. I’ll need to cover 135 men so I can keep things balanced.
Q 13: Will you be writing any more about women in the Bible?
A: I’m glad you asked. The answer is yes!
Women in the Bible is book one in the Bible Bios series. My next book in the series is Friends and Foes of Jesus. This will look at New Testament characters, and many of those in Women of the Bible will make a reappearance. For them I’ll offer new and expanded content. In this way their story continues. Then I’ll repeat the process for a book about Old Testament characters. The working title is Friends and Foes of God.
Plus, I have several more books planned for the Bible Bios series, such as prophets, judges, and kings and queens. Every book will include women.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.