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Book Review: What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School

What You Didn’t Learn in Sunday School: Women Who Didn’t Shut up and Sit Down. Shawna R. B. Atteberry. Wipf & Stock Publishers, February 6, 2013, Trade Paperback and Kindle, 102 pages.

Reviewed by Marcie Hill.

This pint-sized book is packed with information about women in the Bible who stepped out of their “women roles” to protect or influence their families, homes, communities, and even their countries, using their voices, their courage, and their positions of authority.

While a couple of the women included are familiar to readers of the Bible, most are relatively unknown historical figures, like Daughters of Zelophehad and the Prophetess Huldah. This is not because their actions were not relevant. The two most likely reasons for the readers' ignorance of these women are: 1) Women’s subservient roles in society, and 2) Men wrote the Bible. In Biblical days, women were supposed to be “submissive and under the authority of men in all aspects of life.” This possibly contributed to their lack of a more prominent presence.

Rev. Atteberry notes “only eight verses out of over 30,000 verses in the Bible talk about female submission and silence.” These verses are found in 1 Corinthians and I Timothy, which are expounded upon in chapters 10 and 11. To counter these inaccuracies, she wrote about women who didn’t shut up in Part 1, women who didn’t submit in part 2, and women in authority in Part 3.

Each chapter introduces the women by name and provides scriptures on what each woman did, as well as the impact of each woman's actions. The author provides questions to gauge a reader’s thoughts on each situation.

This book is an enlightening and educational read. However, there are a couple things I think would improve the book. First, the title could be improved to have more impact. Second, the chapters could be set up differently to give readers an understanding of why these women would not sit down or shut up. Finally, it would help if the author provided more insight into the authority these woman exercised. I think a brief description of each woman’s role or impact should immediately follow her name and would add understanding for the reader.

I appreciate Rev. Atteberry for bringing the stories about these women to our attention, since people have read the stories of the Bible thousands of times and have likely overlooked or ignored the women in the stories. It was interesting to learn how the actions of women who had the courage to speak up affected their families, homes, communities, and countries.


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