Editor’s Note: When you finish this post, also check out Great Studies on Women of the Bible: 2016 Edition!
From the mailbox:
Hi there, I lead a bible study with the campus ministry I’m involved in at Appalachian State. The girls involved want to study women in the bible, which I think is a great idea. Do you have any recommended resources for a topic like that, or perhaps a resource for studying a specific woman like Ruth? Thanks, A. K.“
When you search Amazon for “women in the bible group study” you get 200+ hits, and trying to determine what is written from an egalitarian viewpoint can be daunting! Here are the criteria we used to put together a short list of studies on women in the bible that would work for most groups: a focus on women in the bible, written for a lay audience, formatted for group study, and compatible with an egalitarian view. (Updated 11/2022 so now there are just 5!)
1. Solid DVD Option – Twelve Women of the Bible: Life-Changing Stories for Women Today
Each session focuses on one biblical character (Rebekah, Abigail, Hannah, Gomer, Leah, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, Martha, The Woman at the Well, Mary the mother of Jesus, and The Syrophoenecian Woman). Video contributors include Lysa Terkeurst, Elisa Morgan, Amena Brown, Jonalyn Fincher, Jeanne Stevens, and Naomi Zacharias.
The strength of this study is the Participant Guide. In my opinion, Sherry Harney is one of the best curriculum writers out there today, and her excellent guide includes great discussion questions, background information on each character, space to write down thoughts, and a Leader’s Guide.
2. Another DVD Option – The Storm Inside
This study by Sheila Walsh uses women in the bible as case studies for lessons she wants to teach, but still gives good insights into the lives of Hannah, the woman with the issue of blood, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, and Sarah. When we used this at our church I did find it helpful to supplement the studies with more information on the women themselves. The Twelve Women study has stronger discussion material, but The Storm Inside has a higher-quality video. So if the video portion is important for your group you might like this better.
3. & 4. Best at Drilling Deep – Two by Carolyn Custis James
Carolyn’s books always have deep content and quality discussion questions. Here are two studies that focus on women in the bible:
The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules is an in-depth study of the Book of Ruth. Check out this inspiring description:
The Gospel of Ruth vests every woman’s life with kingdom purposes and frees us to embrace wholeheartedly God’s calling, regardless of our circumstances or season of life. This story of two women who have lost everything contains a profound message: God created women not to live in the shadowy margins of men or of the past, but to emerge as courageous activists for his kingdom.”
Lost Women of the Bible: The Women We Thought We Knew is an excellent study I used with a group of women at church. The publisher’s description says:
This fresh look at the women in the Bible unearths surprising new insights and a powerful message that will leave readers feeling challenged, encouraged, and deeply valued. Rediscover and be inspired by Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Tamar, Hannah, Esther, Mary, and others.“
5. Most Fun – A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”
This book by Rachel Held Evans is not specifically on women in the bible, but women are discussed throughout, and the vignettes about a woman in the bible at the end of each chapter are excellent. You would be hard-pressed to find a study that will have your group laughing one minute and in serious discussion the next the way this one will. (See our complete book review.) Some of the women included are the “Proverbs 31 woman”, Mary of Nazareth, Tamar, Esther, and Ruth. From the publisher’s description:
With just the right mixture of humor and insight, compassion and incredulity, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is an exercise in scriptural exploration and spiritual contemplation. What does God truly expect of women, and is there really a prescription for biblical womanhood? Come along with Evans as she looks for answers in the rich heritage of biblical heroines, models of grace, and all-around women of valor.“
Discussion questions are not included, but you can download an excellent study guide for free.
Editor’s Note: When you finish this post, also check out 6 Great Studies on Women of the Bible: 2016 Edition!