Ever since I was a little kid I always asked why, way past the normal age. I was an inquisitive little girl who wanted to understand how the world worked. This need to always understand the undercurrents behind the things in my life has always left me with more to learn.
I don’t just like a band, I know all the members, who their label is, when they started, how they were formed, and any sort of interesting factoids that go along with them. I can’t watch a tv show without internet access because I always need to be able to check IMDB in order to figure out where else I know the actor from or what day the original episode aired because I’m curious when an actor had time to fit that appearance into their busy movie schedule that year. I need to know more than just the surface level information in order to truly understand any subject. I hate superficiality, especially when it comes to subjects I’m passionate about. I’m not afraid to get my metaphorical hands dirty and do the hard work myself if it means by the end I’ll know things I didn’t know before. This tendency has shown itself in many areas of my life, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that there was one area where my love of learning had never taken me: studying the Bible.
I’m not sure if this is just my experience or if it’s a common story among young women in church, but I felt like I never achieved the depth and seriousness in bible studies that I was craving growing up. Any time I was presented with an opportunity to participate in an extra study on top of the basic Sunday school or Wednesday night youth group lessons it was some fluffy, feelings based girly study. We would spend our extra time talking about good choices in dating and guarding our hearts while reminding ourselves that we were precious princesses of the King. Studies were always topical and would pepper in bible verses from all over the New Testament that functioned more as self-help books than true Bible /study/.
In the last year I realized that I don’t really know much about the Bible or theology or Biblical history because for some reason women aren’t prepared in the same way men are in church. I’m assuming it’s not intentional, but men get deep, academic studies where they learn theology and the context behind stories and more often than not probably just study a book of the bible with older men who are trying to train them up to be the spiritual leaders of their future families. This is all great, but why don’t women get the same upbringing? When did we decide that because women are the nurturing, emotional, future mothers of families that they don’t need the deeper Biblical knowledge? Chances are if a teenager came up to you and asked for a Christian book recommendation, you’d tell a young man to read something by C.S. Lewis like Mere Christianity and a girl would get a recommendation for something like Captivating. Are you seeing the discrepancy with topics right away? One is apologetics and theology while the other one is basically Jesus-flavored fluff on being a woman. I spent a lot of my time in church and didn’t learn a whole lot about the Bible in Bible studies, just how to live a life where all the good Christian girl boxes would get checked.
I like history and understanding complex stories and situations. I LOVE to learn. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a huge nerd who loves to read for hours and will forget to feed myself if I get too sucked into a project. I have a degree in history and I don’t know a fraction as much about the Bible as I do about any period in US or World History. That’s a true shame if you ask me considering I was raised in the church and have called myself Christian for as long as I can remember. I recently came to the conclusion that I needed to take it upon myself to learn what I missed out on previously, so I got myself a commentary and started on the great adventure of actually reading the Bible. But not just reading it to find out what it said about me—“you are loved, you are precious, you are a child of God, you are redeemed” etc. All of these things are true, but that’s not what the Bible is about. The Bible isn’t a self-help book meant to be read in order to find a passage that will make us feel better or find out what it says about us. It’s a story about God and all his miraculous works throughout time. It’s about him, not us.
Because of this, I’ve started the monstrous task of trying to read the Bible from cover to cover and learn about the ancient culture and reasons behind the words we’ve all been told since it doesn’t appear that girls ever are taught about these things without attending seminary or something similar. The stories of the bible are rich and engaging and scandalous and every time we read them at face value with our modern, western, suburban eyes we miss a great deal of the content that the original hearers understood immediately because they were immersed in the culture. I want to learn all I can to get the most out of these stories by understanding about the people involved and cultures in which they took place and the general geography where they occurred.
God gave me a brain and a love of learning; it’s only appropriate that I apply those qualities to learning more about Him and his works rather than just filling my mind with random facts about musicians and actors and historical figures from my textbooks. If that makes others think that I’m crazy or an overachiever or someone to be looked up to, I promise there’s no reason to think any of those things. I’m just trying to use the tools at my disposal and the skills I paid my college a lot of money to learn to make the Bible come alive to my context based, history buff mind. I will be investigating the “why” behind a ridiculous number of stories I don’t understand. My knowledge of ancient civ and Biblical history is about to grow exponentially. It’s time to dig deeper and start treating the Bible like any other historical content area I’m licensed in. I couldn’t be more excited.