Women and Men in Scripture and The Church
Paula Gooder and Steven Croft, Canterbury Press, 2013

£7.99 (Approx)
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What does it say on the tin?

What does it say about the place of women in the Christian faith that, at a time when they had little social status, they were the first witnesses of the resurrection and the first to be commissioned by Jesus to carry the good news? Women went on to exercise a significant ministry in the early Church, but not without debate about the respective roles of women and men in society, church and family – a debate that continues to divide the Church today. The heart of the question is not whether women should exercise a particular ministry. It is about how we view each other as sisters and brothers within the Body of Christ, how we structure our family lives, and how we relate to the wider world. This accessible guide will enable readers to look again honestly and carefully at what the Bible says about the roles of men and women in family life, in ministry and in society. It will help the Church recover a sense that the message of the Christian faith is profoundly good news for the whole of humanity.

What do you get and how?

Paperback book or ePUB,  each chapter contains a Bible study, insights from current biblical scholarship, an exploration of contemporary application, questions for reflections and prayers.

Who is it for?

Ideal for individual reading, group study or as the basis for a series of sermons. For adult, growing Christians



Review pending


  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Challenging, indepth exploration of biblical material relevant to the place of women in the Christian faith. A thorough and thought-provoking contribution to the debate.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    No specific guidelines; encouragement to be selective. Easy to follow headings. General aim to help Christians ‘look again honestly and carefully at what the Bible says about women and men in family life, in ministry and in society.'

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Recognition that this may be challenging material for some, so emphasis on supporting group members. No other guidelines, apart from encouraging flexibility. Sessions: Opening Prayers( taken from Common Worship, based on Psalms); Introduction (to the theme); Bible study and Reflection together (devotional reading plus initial questions); Notes on some details of the passage (often extended though accessible notes on biblical background and interpretation); For discussion (questions of understanding and application); going further (suggestions for further reflection); Closing prayers (suggestions for these, relevant to the theme). Clear headings and subheadings throughout, and all biblical text is boxed. Substantial notes which would probably need to be pre-read by all, or summarised.

    Who could lead it?

    A leader would need to be ready to engage with some detailed and demanding issues and approach to the biblical texts; and be able to handle strong opinions and emotions in others. The subject matter is likely to throw these up.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Same book for all. No note space. FAQs engage clearly with some common questions around the debate. Further reading suggested.

    How good is any digital material?


    How much prep will I have to do?

    Read each session carefully and prepare how to handle the often lengthy input information. Do a bit of your own thinking before the session.

    Is there website support? Links?


  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Beginning with the time of prayer and Psalm-based declaration and continuing with thorough engagement with the biblical material – and including great open questions – should mean that interaction is good.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Good mix of prayer, worship, careful reading and listening of the biblical material and discussion. Questions are especially good in enabling learner-centred growth.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    While the book was written before women were ordained as bishops in the Church of England, and partly in support of this hope, the material is as relevant as ever in tackling some of the key issues, biblically speaking. Your group or tradition may or may not agree with the arguments or conclusions of the book. But that is no reason not to engage with it. It is a demanding and detailed study, however, so your group would need to be game for that.

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Each session ends with relevant suggested themes for prayer, which focus on application. (NB You may want to rephrase the prayer after the first session. It seems lacking in grace.)

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    All the focus is on biblical interpretation of relevant passages.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Printed in the text. Sections from Genesis 1-3, and contested passages from Paul's letters, with some reference to how Jesus' treated women. Each passage is examined in detail, including translations of particular words. However, the first engagement is a more devotional one, along the lines of Lectio Davina, with time and space to respond individually. Interpretation based on historical knowledge, what the text actually says, and what filters we might be wearing as we read the text.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    The subject is essentially to do with everyday life – and the authors argue that this is much more than just whether women should be in church leadership, but actually how they take their place in the world as created in the image of God, as do men.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Anglican – in support of women in leadership in the church, and in all spheres of life.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    One of the strengths of this resource is that it is set in the context of worship – beginning with prayers and psalms every session, and introducing each biblical passage with plenty of time for devotional responses.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    There is no ignoring the challenging nature of the debate around the place of women in the Christian church. This is a respectful and careful treatment from one angle.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    A contentious question in the context of this resource, as some will no doubt disagree with its plea for women to take their full place beside men, in the church and in life. Nevertheless, this is a vital subject to engage with, no matter one's starting point. Or where one finishes.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Hugely important worldwide issue of how we think and therefore treat women, within the church (and without).

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Not a special focus, though the need for it is acknowledged.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Working through this material may well result in church and community involvement; the challenge is there to respond to the way women are treated.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    The treatment of women worldwide is, in many places, nothing less than appalling. While the focus in the resource is on wrestling with biblical interpretation, the proceeds from the book go to Christian Aid, which prioritises alleviating the suffering of women and girls because of poverty. (One bizarre comment suggests that slavery is more or less at an end; most would recognise that modern-day slavery is just as iniquitous as any slavery has ever been.)

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    The vital role of women missionaries is recognised and applauded.

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