Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book Review: The Prophetess

The Prophetess: Deborah's Story by Jill Eileen Smith

When I re-read the whole of the Old Testament a couple of years ago, there was a general observation and a couple of particular characters that struck and then stuck with me.  The general observation was that human beings haven't really changed; they did a lot of bad stuff back at the beginning and people do a lot of bad stuff today.  Families are messy, people are sometimes faithful and sometimes drive the other people they live with crazy!  The two characters of the Old Testament  that struck and stuck with me were Deborah and Jael (see the book of Judges).  Their stories seemed to be in stark contrast with the rest of the stories about women.  Deborah held a position of responsibility and honor and Jael's story was about violence perpetrated by her, not against her.  In a time and world where women were remembered for their relationships to the men in their lives, these two stood out as women remembered for what they had done.

I suspect Jill Eileen Smith was also struck by the recorded stories of these women, despite the brevity.  She reported it was a challenge to write a fictionalized account due to the dearth of information provided for us in the Old Testament.  I was intrigued to read what she imagined their lives to be like.  I was immediately drawn into the story.  Timeless themes of coming of age, and suitability of spouse kept me engaged with the characters.  Family themes of parent/child dynamics were also explored to good effect.  Do I know if the thoughts and speech are anywhere close to authentic for the time and culture?  No.  But I could relate to situations and they made me care about what happened to them. Smith even succeeded in keeping me in suspense despite knowing what happened in the end!

I would recommend this book as an interesting read, I have thought back to it many times since finishing and I always like a book that makes me think.

[I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.]

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