7 Women & The Secret of Their Greatness: A Book Review
“Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”
This is the question that Mother Theresa famously asked everyone she came into contact with. Most of us are somewhat familiar with the legacy of Mother Theresa. But what does Mother Theresa have in common with Rosa Parks, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie Ten Boom and Joan of Arc? These women span different generations and cultures, yet they are all women who did something beautiful for God. They lived their lives in surrender and in turn were agents of change in their generations, influencing thousands for the Gospel.
‘Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times bestseller Amazing Grace, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask), Everything Else You Always Wanted to Know About God, and thirty children’s books. He is founder and host of Socrates in the City in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Marks Hill Review, and Fist Things. He has written for VeggieTales and Rabbit Ears Productions, earning three Grammy nominations for Best Children’s Recording’ .
I haven’t read 7 Men, the first book by Eric Metaxas in this series – but I have enjoyed his book on Dietrich Boenhoeffer, and having a keen interest in history, when ‘7 Women’ became available to review I jumped at the chance. I’m familiar with the lives of Hannah More, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Susanna Wesley, but some of the other women included in this book were new to me, and I was intrigued to learn of their influence.
7 Women is a historical rather than theological account of the lives of seven influencers of culture, and it is a greatly encouraging and interesting book. I was fascinated by the details of Susanna Wesley’s life, and was encouraged by her faith and commitment to Christ despite the innumerable hardships that she faced. Imagine losing nine children in infancy, and three in adulthood. In fact, all the women included in this book experienced significant suffering. A compelling read, but perhaps the book could also have included application questions in each chapter that are relevant for us today. This book has much material that could be used for devotional purposes.
This book is a gift to the literary world and to the church. If you are someone who likes reading about historical figures, you would probably enjoy this book.
Here is a little taste of this book: ‘One reason I find St. Maria of Paris rather compelling is because of the striking similarities between her life and that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both were brilliant and grew up in an elite intellectual atmosphere; both shunned religiosity and pietism and both smoked and drank. Both were profoundly enamored with Jesus being fully incarnate and with his humanity he connected us to God…Both wrote brilliantly and both knew their writings meant nothing if they didn’t live them out. Both were less interested in meeting the expectations of their own church denominations, [St Maria’s was Orthodox], than meeting the expectations of God Himself. Both understood it was the duty of every Christian to stand up for the Jews being persecuted by the Nazis, and both were murdered in concentration camps just weeks before the war ended…Finally, I wish to include this great woman because many of us know Christian heroes from the Protestant and Catholic traditions, but few of us know of the heroes of the Orthodox tradition” (Eric Metaxas, 7 Women, Nelson Books, 2015, pp. 86, 87).