Q&A: Lindsay Hardin Freeman, author of Bible Women

Women of the Bible have been trapped in dry and dusty literary caskets for centuries—but no more. In a groundbreaking book, author Lindsay Hardin Freeman identifies every woman who speaks in the Bible, providing their words, context, and historical background. This beloved book has recently been expanded to feature new ways to use and study the words and wisdom, updated content for today’s context, and 93 prayers—one for each woman who speaks in the Bible. Learn more about Bible Women’s expanded edition in this author Q&A.

What inspired you to make a 2nd edition of Bible Women?

I’ve had the good fortune to meet with women’s groups across the country since the original book came out: ECW (Episcopal Church Women) meetings, book clubs, students, Zoom meetings, and various Bible study groups. They, and Richelle Thompson, Forward Movement’s executive editor, have inspired me to write this second edition.

I’m amazed at how deeply women will share joys and sorrows in small groups with people they might not have ever met before. We all have mountains to climb and deserts to cross, and it makes such a difference when we don’t do that alone.

Seeing women use the book to get at deep faith issues is huge for me. Being at the intersection of contemporary women and Bible women — seeing the continuing commonalities —is a really inspiring place to be — and the renewed interest in the book shows that Bible women are never outdated.

How does the 2nd edition content differ from the first?

Much has happened on the world scene since the original book came out: the war in Ukraine, more desperation at the Southern border, an increased number of mass shootings, the murder of George Floyd, and political instability at the national and international level.

We’ve added 120 pages, with deeper questions for discussion, revised chapter content to will help readers consider what Bible women might have to offer in light of such events, provided additional suggestions for use, and added a more intentional meditative focus with a prayer for each of the 93 women who speak in the Bible selected from scholars, saints and theologians across the ages. Ninety-three women, so ninety-three prayers.

How has writing the 2nd edition been different from the first?

To add those prayers for each woman’s chapter — a prayer that would make her contributions ring even louder — took another kind of work. My dining room table was covered for months with books and scraps of paper as more ancient voices seemed to ring out. Voices from long ago from people searching for the truth and for God’s presence right alongside Bible women is an amazing experience. It wasn’t easy — there were long, hard and crazy hours, but I’m proud of the way the whole project turned out.

What is your hope for this book?

The Holy Spirit is the one doing the heavy lifting, of course, but my hope is that my words will help deepen the faith of contemporary readers. Writing is my vocation — it’s what I do — and I hope this book will be a bridge between God’s people of the past and God’s people of the present and future.

The first edition of Bible Women has been out in the world for a while now, and I know it has been a hit with readers. Do you have a favorite reader story you’d like to share?

I was leading a retreat on Bible Women in New England, and I there was a woman there who seemed angry with me. I wondered what I had said that caused such a reaction. It turned out that her daughter had died four years earlier, and she had lost her faith. But she was there — sharing her deep sorrow with other women. And she told me that weekend was the first time she’d taken Communion since her daughter died. There was healing, a drawing closer to God because of  sharing with other women at her table, sparked by Bible Women — and I’ll always treasure that.

Do you have a favorite Bible Woman? Or one who is particularly inspiring you right now?

My favorite woman in the Bible has always been Rahab — the prostitute who took Hebrew spies into her home, lied about their presence to the King’s guards, and then helped the emerging nation of Israel cross over into the Promised Land. She was a survivor, and so many of us are. She had to make a decision on a moment’s notice and she did. She looked out for others, and God blessed her.

During this Epiphany season, though, I’m always inspired by Elizabeth, who prayed at the temple in Jerusalem for some eight decades, waiting to see the Messiah. Her wish and prayer were fulfilled and she is a stunning example of how prayer works.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I am not alone when I do this work. The Spirit is right beside me, cajoling me, guiding me, leading me. Our research team has worked together for twelve years now; we have a chaplain that prays for us and for readers continually. Forward Movement has been incredibly helpful — and most of all, my poet-priest husband Len Freeman is with me each step of the way to make all this possible.

The expanded second edition of Bible Women is available on the Forward Movement website. Read a sample or order your copy today.