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Jesus and Women: Beyond Feminism

Jesus and Women: Beyond Feminism by Niamh Middleton is an unflinching look at the history of women in the Bible, the church today, and the revolutionary way that Jesus interacted with women to set an example for everyone.

Jesus and Women gives women hope that in a broken world, Jesus had a better way. Women are image bearers of God and are valued as such in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus did not simply overlook half of the population during his ministry on earth.

Jesus and Women Book Review

The topic of Jesus and women is a touchy subject amongst Christians, though it really shouldn’t be. It involves taking an honest look at the role of patriarchy and the damage it has done to the church overall, and most specifically to women. The author addresses this in the book.

Jesus and Women: Beyond Feminism by Niamh Middleton offers a refreshing and thought-provoking perspective on the relationship between Christianity and women’s empowerment. Through a unique blend of evolutionary biology, feminism, and the #MeToo movement, Middleton sheds light on the revolutionary stance of Jesus towards women and the potential implications for modern society and the Church.

I have to note that although I enjoyed reading this book and agreed with nearly everything the author stated, I was disappointed to see it was done on the basis of evolutionary biology. I don’t believe in evolution, but in a Creator who designed us all with care and intimacy so that we can experience a personal relationship with Him. I feel that the tie in with evolutionary biology only weakens the point, though I understand why she comes from that standpoint. Niamh Middleton has spent over 20 years in academia where the only acceptable view is evolution/Darwinism. That in itself is a shame, but it’s a topic for another time.

Jesus and Women is written in an academic style, reading very much like a doctoral dissertation or a textbook. There’s no question that the book is obviously well-researched and the author is an expert on the topic.

The book begins by delving into the careful exegesis of the Old and New Testaments, drawing insightful comparisons between the treatment and depiction of women in these sacred texts. This comparative analysis serves as a powerful lens through which readers can appreciate the significant shifts in attitudes and perceptions of women’s roles within the Christian tradition. Middleton’s meticulous research and thoughtful interpretation of biblical passages provide a solid foundation for her argument.

One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from the introduction because it provides insight into the author’s personal perspective and it aligns with my thinking on the topic as well:

“As a feminist and former atheist who stumbled into studying theology almost by accident, I will never forget my initial shock at encountering a Jesus in the Gospels with whom I was wholly unfamiliar. This Jesus had a revolutionary attitude towards women that not only transcended time and place, but was also strikingly at odds with the ethos of the Church in which I was brought up and from which I received my religious education (Roman Catholicism). I came to the realisation that our hard-won freedoms, combined with new insights into the evolution of patriarchy, facilitate a perspective on the Gospels that reveals Jesus’ treatment of women to be so unique it provides further persuasive evidence of his divine nature. I am now convinced that feminism as a movement could only have arisen in a Judeo-Christian culture.

One of the book’s central messages is the call for Christian women to reclaim their faith as a source of empowerment. Middleton convincingly argues that Christianity, which has sometimes taken regressive stances on gender roles since Roman times, has the potential to be a catalyst for positive change and gender equality. She calls women to take an active role in reshaping the Christian narrative.

What sets Jesus and Women apart is its emphasis on the concept of a “revolution of grace” as a means to restore the harmony between the sexes, as described in Genesis. In a world where political feminism addresses only the surface symptoms of gender inequality, Middleton’s proposal for a more profound transformation rooted in grace offers a refreshing perspective.

Niamh Middleton’s writing is engaging and well-researched, making complex theological concepts accessible to a broad readership. While some may find her approach bold and challenging, it is precisely this audacity that allows for the reexamination of deeply ingrained beliefs and traditions within Christianity.

In conclusion, Jesus and Women by Niamh Middleton is a compelling and thought-provoking book that encourages readers to reconsider the role of women in Christianity. Through a combination of historical analysis, feminist insights, and a call for a “revolution of grace,” Middleton offers a timely and relevant contribution to the ongoing discourse on gender equality and spirituality. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the intersection of faith, feminism, and the potential for positive change within religious traditions.

If you enjoy reading books by Sarah Bessey, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Beth Allison Barr, Rachel Held Evans, and similar authors, you’ll appreciate Jesus and Women by Niamh Middleton.

Jesus and Women Book Giveaway

You can win your own copy of Jesus and Women: Beyond Feminism by Niamh Middleton by entering the giveaway from FrontGate Media.

Sara
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