First things first, I love The CEB Women’s Bible. It is not simply a re-covered study Bible with “women’s” in the title put out by whatever Christian publisher you may want to name who has done that kind of thing. Since there are publishers who have done that kind of thing, I wish there was a way to distinguish The CEB Women’s Bible from those kinds of Bibles. I don’t have a better name. Everything I can think of would push away the very women I want to draw nearer so I am stuck doing the very best I can to give as much “good word” as I can.
What makes this different? To state the obvious: all of the Editors and contributors are women. Many of them hold PhDs. Several of them are PhD candidates. Some of them are Pastors serving churches. The front matter explains better than I can who they all are. That their Study Notes will be different than a “re-cover” does not go without saying; there are things to say!
The next thing that only shows if you look for it is that there is a variety of denominations represented. Not everyone bothers to read the front matter of the Study Bibles being carried around from Bible Study to Bible Study. The front matter discloses who writes the Study Notes. The variety of denominations, the academic training, pastoral experience, and the expectation of women reading the notes shows in the study notes. The CEB Women’s Study Bible hasn’t given up the academic notes. It does both! From the very beginning of Genesis the tone is set with the book introduction, reflections, sidebar articles, and portraits.
There are portraits are not necessarily more information about the Biblical character. The portrait may be a reflection influenced by a certain Biblical woman or something to consider regarding a particular woman’s situation. All woman, named and unnamed, are indexed in the back both with Biblical reference and page number if there is a reflection for her. They are also indexed in Biblical order. The detail of having all the indexes is thoughtful, thorough, and helpful.
A devotional guide based on Lectionary Readings is included. There are reflection questions for one scripture for each week of the Lectionary for the whole three year cycle.
When it comes to topics that are hard, The CEB Women’s Study Bible does not duck. Adultery, Divorce, Rape are all handled authentically, Biblically, and pastorally. The topics are placed in context. The index helps with looking up topics if needed for a ready reference. Adultery and Divorce are on facing pages in Matthew and pair well together. The entry on Rape is across from the portrait of The Levite’s Secondary Wife both in Judges 19. Neither of these contributors avoid the violence of this text. The weakness of this Study Bible is the soft pedal by the contributor regarding the violence, rape, and portrayal of God in the minor prophets of Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai. At minimum, I would have liked for her to have given a cross reference to pp. 316-317 (Judge 19) where no one ducked the hard topics. Overall, that is the exception and should not be held against the whole.
The maps in the back are excellent. What I appreciate most is having maps stay the same scale over periods of time for comparison sake (map 14 Jerusalem (David & Solomon) Map 15 Jerusalem Jesus).
The CEB Women’s Bible is a terrific resource! I received a free copy in exchange for a review. I am glad to have this Bible in my library and will not hesitate to recommend it to others. You can purchase it on Amazon here