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Forty Women by Ros Clarke 

Lessons learned from and empathy for lesser known women in the Bible, whose stories can resonate with the lives of women today  


Forty WomenForty Women - Unseen women of the Bible from Eden to Easter
By Ros Clarke
ISBN no: 9781789743562
Reviewed by Moira Kleissner

This slim volume was originally produced as a Lent study. The author is Dr Ros Clarke who is Associate Director of the “Church Society”. It tells the stories of 40 women in Old and New Testaments  from a female evangelical perspective. Some of the women mentioned the reader will know well, others they may not even have heard of.

It is a book that is relevant with the birth of the #MeToo movement and asks Christians to think more deeply about womanhood.

However this is not a book just for women. Men would benefit greatly form using it, learning, empathising and studying these diverse characters. In fact I would suggest this small Lent book should be a must for men to use. A word of warning: it is not “family friendly” because of the actions against some of the characters and the actions they themselves have perpetrated.
It has been all too common for only the major women in the Bible to be studied and those who are seen to be “good examples”. However this author includes women whose lives have been less than godly. There are lessons learned from and empathy for these lesser known characters who have often had a rough deal or been shunned as evil. I wonder if you have heard of Dinah, Shiphrah, Mara, Jehosheba …. Just a small selection of those Biblical women we rarely, if ever hear about.

These stories can resonate with the lives of women today, whether Christian or not. These hidden characters need to be highlighted in order for us to learn how to view women in all her diversity, goodness and indeed sometimes evil. Jesus gave women a high place within His story and we sometimes forget that. This book goes some way to readdress this omission.
Each day has a Bible reading, followed by a discussion about the woman with empathetic background details, analysing the woman’s actions, the reason for them and the actions of others involved with the women’s lives. The short Reflection/Question section gives much to mull over, either as a personal or group study. There then is a prayer.
The study goes as far as Mary Magdalene and Easter – it being a Lent study. I would like Martha and Mary to be separate characters but they are put together and seen through somewhat sentimental eyes. After all it was Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus, as would a male disciple, to learn while Martha fussed around. But I can understand that the writer wanted to include the resurrection of Lazarus in the run up to Easter so examined the sisters together.
Maybe a second volume...

Moira Kleissner is a retired Primary Deputy Head, storyteller, trainer and minister’s wife

Baptist Times, 24/06/2022
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