Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Woman Who Named God - A Review by jubilee

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)


Charlotte Gordon graduated from Harvard College and received a Master’s in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in History and Literature from Boston University. She has published two books of poetry and, most recently, the biography Mistress Bradstreet, which was a Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book. From 1999-2001, she taught at Boston University’s School of Theology. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English at Endicott College.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031611474X
ISBN-13: 978-0316114745


I am struggling to figure out how this is a Christian book. The introduction started out interestingly enough - it almost read like a novel. Which was what I thought this book was. I read three chapters and it chaffed the whole way through.

Certainly this book deals with figures/heroes of our Christian faith, but I would not characterize it as a Christian book. In fact there are statements and assumptions that I find illogical and irreverent.

Abram's . . . behavior is the first evidence in the Bible that he was indeed an extraordinary man. Somehow he knew to head toward the Mediterranean, perhaps in an unconscious attempt to finish the journey his father had never completed, perhaps because of his intuitive connection to God. The crucial point is that he made this decision of his own accord, since God had given him no clues about where to go.

Although Abram never seemed perturbed by God's lack of direction, it must have bewildered Abrams followers . . . Yet Abram made no attempt to justify his unusual behavior. And he evinced no remorse over what amounted to severing his relationship with Terah [his father]. . . Abram never sent word back home, and he certainly never returned to Haran
pg 21,22

Certainly, a compliment to the man, Abraham, but a slight to God at the same time. In fact in The Woman Who Named God, more awe is reserved for Abraham than Abraham's God. Just because the Bible does not record an event or conversation, doesn't mean it didn't take place. And yet by saying Abraham didn't talk with God (or about what God told him to others) or never spoke to his father again, that is exactly what the author is claiming. The Bible doesn't talk about what Abraham ate, but you can be sure he did eat. The Bible describes only one conversation between Abram and Sarah about their lack of children, but you can bet it was a hot topic and rarely far from their minds.

The Lord comes to Abraham and talks with him on several occasions, why, then, is there an assumption that there is no discussion about leaving Haran? And even if there was no further discussion, obeying God without needing all the details is what we call faith. Abraham had faith. But no mention is made of that in The Woman Who Named God.
He [God] issued a command and Abram, like the earth and the waters before him listened and obeyed. But after His failure with Adam and then Noah, . . . God had elected to try a different kind of creation, one predicated on cultivating a relationship with His chosen one.
pg 24

He certainly had a relationship with Adam and Noah. No citation and no evidence is given for the claim that He didn't. If He didn't have a relationship with Adam, why would He care that Adam hid himself in the garden? Why would He seek Adam out in the cool of the day?

And to call God a failure with Adam and Noah is a grievous error. A sacrilegious one to be sure. I believe that it was Adam who failed God. Not the other way around. And God was extremely happy with Noah, that's why He saved him and his family from the flood.

In the introduction it's clear that the book is not an endorsement of a particular religion or religious text and I can handle that, but I will not tolerate the not-so-subtle jabs at the Book I hold most dear.

I felt that in the description of this book we were lead to believe that this was a novel, a historical and fictional account of the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. The description on the back of the book "A brilliant and timely retelling of the biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar" even leads one to believe this is the case. Though, admittedly, in never uses the word novel. When I realized the error, I was still intrigued and read further because I am interested in the history and customs of Biblical times.

This could be called a retelling, in the loosest of terms. It is a gathering of information - a compilation, if you will - of beliefs and oral legends of many different books from many different religions culminating in what the author believes happened in the lives of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar.

But, again, it was difficult to dig through the criticisms toward God and jumps in logic just so I could get a feel for the history of Biblical times.

Also, just as much - and sometimes more - credence is given to the Koran and non-canonical religious books as the Bible itself. That may be laudable from a secular standpoint, but not mine. I prefer a Christian world view. And I filter everything through that.

My point is that I cannot give a positive review in terms of a Christian book. Because it is not. Even though there were interesting statements about culture and heritage.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that the author has an extensive knowledge of various historical and religious writings. And a great deal of work went into this book. And from a secular historical standpoint it's impressive.

But since I cannot trust the way the Bible and the God of the universe is handled in this book, who is to say that there aren't the same assumptions and mistakes in the researching of other parts of The Woman Who Named God?

I am not willing to take that chance.

1 comment:

  1. I've not heard about this one. But based on what you uncovered, I'm with you. I have a hard time sticking with books when I find things that I believe to be faulty foundational premises. Fiction, non-fiction alike. Thanks for the heads up.


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