Friday, June 21, 2013

Bathsheba Bathed in Grace: How 8 Scandalous Women Changed the World by Carol Cook (Review)

YOU'VE HEARD THEIR STORIES ALL YOUR LIFE BUT DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE BIBLE'S "REBEL" WOMEN?

Adultery, lies, deception, scandal, murder, cover-up, heartache, pain, and loss--stories with these sordid elements are relevant today. And women with shady pasts--labeled, shamed, and linked with tragedies--are part of our heritage. Bathsheba, a victim or temptress, Eve outside of Eden, Tamar posed as a prostitute, Leah stole her sister Rachel's fiance...Sarah gave Hagar to her husband and Rebekah masterminds a grave deception.




I GIVE THIS BOOK:1 star1-1/2 stars

MY THOUGHTS:
The title of this book, I feel, is very misleading. For it to be called Bathsheba Bathed in Grace gives the reader the impression that the book is going to be about Bathsheba, not Bathsheba plus seven other biblical women randomly put together. I couldn't find any reason to title it this way, there was no connecting to Bathsheba with every story or anything similar to that. I would have much preferred it had the book been titled Bathed in Grace, then I wouldn't have felt mislead.

Another thing I found strange was the order of the stories, they were in such an odd order: Bathsheba, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah Rachel, Tamar, Eve. This by itself wouldn't have effected my enjoyment, but I just found it to be a strange and confusing order to put them. Here are my thoughts and rating for each individual story:

Bathsheba - 2 stars
The story is told strictly from Bathsheba's point of view, there was no narrative telling us things that she didn't know. I found this hard to enjoy. The story covers all of Bathsheba's life with David, but it is such a short story that so much of it is glossed over or skipped.

I also thought it was strange when Bathsheba says one of her favorite of Solomon's writings was Ecclesiastes 3, since I pretty sure they weren't divided that way until much later in history.

I know the story is a novella, but the wasn't much to it and I didn't care for it. I never connected with the story, there wasn't anything brought out in it that stuck with me.

Sarah - 2 1/2 stars
The story begins with Abram and Sarai travelling to Egypt and continues until near the time of Sarah's death. It was a little more enjoyable to read than Bathsheba's story, but not by much. I honestly couldn't tell a difference between Bathsheba's and Sarai/Sarah's "voices", if not for the fact that the locations and people surrounded them were different I would have mistaken them for the same person.

I read a book about Sarai/Sarah a little over a year ago that made a huge impact on me, and has stuck with me since. The book was Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith and it is FANTASTIC!

Hagar - 4 stars
At first, some parts of Hagar's story seemed to contradict Sarah's, but then I realized that it was how it was from each woman's perspective.

This was one of the best stories in this book. It was moving and very interesting. Hagar's "voice" is definitely different than the first two. I can't imagine having to be in her shoes, having someone order you to have relations with someone and having no choice in the matter.

This story gave me a deeper understanding of Hagar and I would have loved to have had a full novel just about her.

Rebekah - 1 1/2 stars
After the first third of Rebekah's story it seemed more as though I was reading a story about Jacob & Esua than about their mother. Plus, I think the story gave Rebekah too much foreknowledge, that she had a feeling something important was going to happen at the well so she rushes to beat every other girl to it and greet Abraham's manservant just didn't feel right to me.

I know there isn't much to work with when telling Rebekah's story, but even so it just wasn't that good.

Leah - 3 stars
This story was well told, yet so much was added to her story that I had a hard time recognizing it.

It's nice to think that the sisters were close before Jacob came into the picture and that later in life they made up, but I don't see any evidence of that and personally find it hard to believe that they ever would be close again.

Rachel - 2 stars
This story felt very redundant of Leah's, since it covers almost completely the same timeline just from a different perspective. This wouldn't have been a problem if her perspective had been more interesting or different, but it felt and sounded almost identical to Leah's which made it kind of boring. Overall, still an okay read.

Tamar - 4 stars
With some of the key parts of Tamar's story being on the edgier side (Onan spilling his seed and Tamar impersonating a prostitute), I was curious and slightly concerned how they would be portrayed. I thought they were welled written, with just enough details given so I understood what was happening but not too much to make me uncomfortable.

The reason this story isn't receiving five stars is it made it sound as though Onan & Tamar were together only once before the Lord killed him for his disobedience, when the Bible says "Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, "Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother." But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother's wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. But the LORD considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the LORD took Onan's life, too." Genesis 38:8-10 (NLT)which very much sounds as though it happened more than once.

Overall, it was still a very enjoyable story and one that made me think deeper about these people - which is always great.

Eve - 1 star
This was by far my least favorite in this book. Eve came across as a simple-minded person, she didn't know what tears were and the way she interacted with Adam was just strange.

The eating from the tree scene was interesting, with the way the author portrayed the serpent, but even this wasn't that good and didn't help my opinion of this story.

I know the Bible doesn't give specifics on when and how many daughters Adam and Eve had, but when Cain left with his wife, whom I personally believe was his sister (otherwise where did she come from?), I thought it odd that Eve was only mourning the loss of her two sons, Abel in death and Cain is his exile, not her daughter.

Overall, I didn't care for this story.

On the whole I give Bathsheba Bathed in Grace 2 1/2 stars.

 ***I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.***

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