“Bathsheba, Bathed in Grace: How Eight Scandalous Women Changed the World”
Posted by addisethiopia on October 16, 2013
The description on the back of this fascinating book reads:
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 fiancé…Sarah gave Hagar to her husband and Rebekah masterminded a grave deception. How well do you really know the women of the Bible?
The names are familiar: Eve, Rachel, Bathsheba, Hagar, Sarah, Tamar, Leah, Rebekah. Their stories are also familiar, yet the stories that lie beneath the familiar words of biblical text give a new perspective and new appreciation for them and the lessons they reveal.
Carol Cook, author of the book “Bathsheba, Bathed in Grace (How Eight Scandalous Women Changed the World),” has delved into these buried secrets of the Bible, gently peeling back the layers to bring each woman to life. As her story unfolds, the woman’s strengths, trials and challenges are revealed to serve as a testimony of God’s love and an encouragement to their modern daughters.
Cook found facets of her own personality in each of the eight women. She said, “When I wrote about Eve, I thought, ‘I’m Eve. I’m lost in perfection. It’s never enough, there’s always something wrong.’ Then I wrote about Sarah and I thought, ‘That’s me. I’m so controlling. I have instances in my life that caused me to feel unprotected and I have trust issues. In my family, I have been rightly accused of being controlling in every situation. Then with Hagar, I identified with her because I have felt invisible. … I identified with each of the women. I’ve had jealousy, I’ve had unforgiveness. God is helping me overcome that, and I think that’s the biggest gift in doing with Rachel.”
Cook had spent much time in philanthropic pursuits in Phoenix, helping raise funds for causes in which she believed.
“There came a time when that just wasn’t enough,” she said. “I read a scripture from the new testament that the older women should help the younger women, so I sort of segued into mentoring from my philanthropy.”
Cook led a Bible study each year for about 30 weeks on different courses of study.
“Bathsheba, Bathed in Grace” is the first of three books, each dealing with eight women of the Bible. Cook said she strived to stay true to the biblical text even though the stories themselves are fictionalized versions of the Scriptures.
When women read the book, she hopes they will come away with the knowledge that they are enough just as they are.
“Society and the world keeps telling us that we are not enough,” she said. “Scripture says we’re not perfect, but we’re enough, not because of us, but because of God. … The driving desire of my heart is that women can look back to see how to move from victim to victory as these women did.”
A well-executed debut historical novel that melds biblical history with steamy romance, intrigue and high drama.
In this book’s introduction, Cook writes of how she researched and presented living-history characterizations of biblical women in her Scripture-study classes, which she turned into this compelling collection of eight short stories. These “scandalous women,” who, as the subtitle notes, indeed changed the course of history, include extraordinary princesses, ordinary women, and even slaves and concubines. In these stories, sisters battle one another over societal rank as viciously as their male counterparts clash over territory, and Cook’s diverse cast conveys detailed, emotional insight into a panorama of human history. Bathsheba has an affair with King David and hastily marries him. She’s a shrewd operator who gains her own degree of political power, and she gives birth to the peaceful King Solomon, author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes and builder of the protective shrine for the sacred Ark of the Covenant. After David’s death, as Solomon’s mother, she becomes the first queen mother of Israel. Leah and Rachel each tell their side of a story that pits the two sisters against each other in a marriage-bed battle over Jacob, and Abraham’s wife Sarah, a princess, recounts how her faith journey led her to become the mother of Isaac at age 90. (Curiously, the story doesn’t include Sarah’s reaction to Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac.) Cook also gives voice to the lesser-known Hagar, Sarah’s servant slave, who, under Sarah’s orders, bore Abraham’s first son, Ishmael; in a fit of anger and jealousy, Sarah banishes both Hagar and Ishmael. The novel’s range of emotions and viewpoints make it a worthwhile read; each woman, no matter her rank or her hardship, learns the same universal lesson: Love conquers all, and mercy and forgiveness are at the heart of it. Eve, the mother of all humanity, tells her story in the book’s final chapter, a fitting closure for an exceptional narrative.
A highly readable historical novel, with enough period detail for biblical purists and enough drama and romance for secular readers.