It took me awhile but I finished the compilation of Francine Rivers’ stories of 5 women from the Bible titled A Lineage of Grace. It’s not a small book, but it read fast. The stories brought into light the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although Rivers used as much info as the Bible provides on these ladies and her knowledge of the times the ladies lived in, she used her own creativity to paint a landscape around their lives that made them more relatable at least to me. Rivers created content for their thought life, gave structure to their day-to-day activities, and brought color into these ladies relationships. Of course Rivers doesn’t claim what she wrote is what occurred, but she provides for us the ground work to consider what may have taken place.
Starting with the story of Tamar, I was impacted by how closely tied a woman’s worth and existence was to their ability to have children, especially in ancient times. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to marry so young and have no say as to who you would marry. Of the five stories, I felt the most pity for Tamar’s character. She just seemed to be a pawn in the lives of those around her yet in the end God was faithful to her specifically.
No woman aspires to be a prostitute but due to their circumstances, limited ability to see their God-given potential, and desperation I imagine these women do what they feel they have to in order to survive. Rivers provided a back story to Rahab’s station in life, her hope for something better, and ultimately how she started a totally new life.
I was impacted with the sense of duty to one’s family seen both in Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi and Boaz’s sense of responsibility as a close male relative. It was interesting to consider the events from Boaz’s perspective with regards to business dealings, friendships, and marriage. What a great love story!
Rivers weaved a story that gave David and Bathsheba more of a history that made me think..yes, I could see that happening. Affairs don’t typically happen between strangers which is how this story is commonly portrayed, so the idea that they had interaction prior to their sexual sin filled in a lot of the blanks. This story also gave a bit of insight into the challenges in remarriage and blended families.
Mary’s story is probably the one that has the most detail in the Bible so I was not expecting to really gain any further insight into her life, but I did. Did every Jewish woman wonder if they would be chosen to give birth to the Messiah? What would it be like to raise a perfect son as an imperfect parent? How does one live with the knowledge that their son IS the messiah but can’t talk about it?
In conclusion, all of these stories are rich in realistic characters and interesting ideas. Again, I do not take Rivers’ ideas as ‘gospel’ but it will certainly impact how I read these accounts in the future.