John MacArthur’s newest book, Twelve Extraordinary Women, surprised me. It was refreshing to read a biblical character study of women that was not a dry catalog of facts on the one hand, nor baseless, psychological hypothesis on the other. Following the successful pattern of his earlier book, Twelve Ordinary Men, MacArthur gives a brief but satisfying look at the lives of twelve women of the Bible, taken from both the Old and New Testaments.
The quality that struck me immediately was the casual, inviting, sometimes humorous tone of the book. For example, the beginning of chapter two reads, “Let’s be honest; there are times in the biblical account when Sarah comes off as a bit of a shrew.” Throughout the flow of the individual stories are pearls of historical and theological significance, and principles distilled for personal application. The Old Testament law of levirate marriage is discussed in the chapter on Ruth. The relationship between faith and works, an important topic in MacArthur’s writing and preaching, is presented again in the stories of Rahab, and of Mary and Martha. There is a wonderful section in chapter nine, “Martha and Mary: Working and Worshiping”, that deals with the priority of worship over service and the primacy of faith over works. Chapter nine also provides some insight into the possible family and social lives of the two women.
As is always the case with me, I wish there were more references cited, as well as a bibliography and “For Further Study” section. My husband has already read the chapter on Ruth for a paper he is writing for his Old Testament survey class, and my daughter is next in line to read it. I could see this material adapted for a Sunday school class, Bible study group or book club. And for those who have never had the personal example of a real-life extraordinary, godly woman, this will be a blessing. – Pam Glass, Christian Book Previews.com
Celebrated for their courage, vision, hospitality, and spiritual giftedness, it's no wonder women were so important to God's plan revealed in the Old and New Testaments. It wasn't their natural qualities that made these women extraordinary but the power of the one true God whom they worshipped and served.
In Twelve Extraordinary Women, you'll learn more than fascinating information about these women, you'll discover-perhaps for the first time-the unmistakable chronology of God's redemptive work in history through their lives. These women were not ancillary to His plan, they were at the very heart of it.