Introduction to Jerram’s New Book

This is the entire introduction from Jerram Barrs’ new book, Through His Eyes; God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible.

I have been deeply troubled in our churches by the way much teaching on women begins with the restrictive passages in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 and 1 Timothy 2 and
often ends there. It is not that those passages are insignificant, but
I have been eager to ask a more foundational question: How does the
Lord see women? I felt the best way to answer this question was to look
at particular women whose stories are told in the Scriptures and to
reflect on what God has to say. What does God think about women, and
how does he treat them? My passionate desire and prayer is that the
book will be an encouragement to women and a challenge to men to treat
women with the same honor that the Lord himself shows. I originally
gave these studies to about two hundred women in the setting of a
women’s ministry at a local church. They were greatly encouraged by the
studies, and it was these women who urged me to write this book.One particular example that stands out in my memory was that the study of
the rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon encouraged women to be able
to talk for the first time in their lives about sexual abuse they had
endured, a couple of them fifty or sixty years before. Many other
personal responses were greatly encouraging on a whole range of issues
– singleness, motherhood, marriage, work, career, etc. Overall I think
many of the women felt it was the first time in their lives that they
had heard from Scripture about women being treated with dignity and
graciousness by the Lord. Since then I taught a class covering this
material at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and it was well
received by both female and male students. This past year I preached on
the rape of Tamar at the Seminary as part of a conference on sexual
abuse. Again the reception and consequences were very moving to me. I
have preached sermons from some of these chapters in many different
kinds of churches (Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal, black, white,
Korean, Chinese) and on every occasion have been overwhelmed by the
response. One time in a setting that was very hierarchical the women
stood up and cheered for several minutes in response to what I said
about Jesus’ treatment of women and what it ought to mean for men (this
astonished the men, as you might imagine).

This book begins at the beginning with the story of Eve and, in three chapters, considers
her at creation, at the Fall, and as the bearer of the promise of redemption. Throughout the book I will put the woman’s name first (Eve and Adam or Sarah and Abraham) simply because this is a book about women through God’s eyes. We turn next to look at the lives of several very different women: Sarah, the mother of all God’s people, both Jews
and Gentiles; Tamar, a woman of faith who disguised herself as a
prostitute to ensure that God’s calling of her was fulfilled; Rahab,
the prostitute in Jericho who came to faith in the God of Israel and
who at great danger to herself sheltered the Israeli spies; Deborah, a
chief justice, military leader, and prophet; Ruth, an alien from Moab,
the hated enemy of Israel, who joined herself to God’s people and
became an ancestor of Israel’s greatest king, David; Hannah, a troubled
woman whose prayer for a child was marvelously answered by God;
Abigail, a wise and beautiful woman who had to act quickly to overcome
the awful consequences of her husband’s foolish behavior; Tamar, a
desolate woman who was raped by her own half-brother and whose life was
ruined but who will shine with honor in the kingdom of God; Esther, a
courageous Jewish girl who became a member of a despot’s harem. We also
look at the portrait in Proverbs 31 of a woman of strength and see in
her some of the characteristics that God values in his people.

Turning to the New Testament we study the life of Mary in some depth, asking
the question: What should it mean for us that all generations are to
call her “blessed”? We also look at several examples from the Gospel
records of how Jesus relates to women. Then we turn to the Day of
Pentecost and the fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “Your daughters
shall prophesy” and consider what this should mean today for all God’s
people. Finally we reflect on the image by which God chooses to
describe his church–the bride of Christ–and rejoice in the honor that
God shows to all women with this title.

This book is a happy exposition of the dignity and glory that the Lord showers on women. Its aim is to encourage women to delight in their creation, redemption, and
calling and to challenge men to honor women as does the Lord himself.
My hope is that many men, especially pastors and teachers, will read
this book and be challenged by it, in addition to the book giving great
encouragement to women. My special prayer is that younger women who are
becoming disenchanted with the church and with the Christian faith will
be sufficiently encouraged by the book to embrace their faith much more
wholeheartedly. I long for men to treat their wives, and women in
general, better.

Many women experience discrimination and poor
treatment in their churches and in their homes. In conservative circles
this is sometimes defended and justified by specious appeals to
Scripture. I am thoroughly conservative in my approach to Scripture,
but I passionately believe that Scripture teaches our equality and
mutual dependence. Some will be troubled that I do not devote a chapter
to the so-called “restrictive” passages (1 Corinthians 11 and 14 and 1
Timothy 2) and to the issue of who should be pastors and elders with
teaching and ruling authority in the churches. I have taught on this
subject in many settings, and if anyone wishes  to know my views on
this, they can find them in a series of lectures on “Women in Church” and “Women in Society” that are available on Covenant Seminary’s website (

However, my aim in this book was not to address that issue, a subject
on which many volumes have been written, but to look at the far more
extensive material in Scripture about God’s love and respect for women,
material that is often neglected. My prayer is that the Lord will use
this book to be an encouragement to both women and men, for we all need
to see women through God’s eyes.

Wow. I know that was
long, but I felt it was important to give everyone a true flavor of
what this book intends to be. I’m looking forward to reading it.