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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Overview of Christian Women Throughout the Ages
When I initially flipped through the book my first impression was that Feminine Threads was a bit dry, but upon beginning the first chapter, this was not at all correct. The author, Diana Severance, PhD, Rice University, presents the information in the "Women in Church History" courses she taught. The book is assembled in an easy-to-read format, providing just enough...
Published on June 27, 2011 by HER Impressions

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing
On the good side, this book has plenty of good things to say about women in Christian history. On the other side, it only speaks to the Christian women that agree with the worldview of the author. I expected this to be comprehensive, but it was not. I'll pass this on to someone else, and look for a book that speaks to Christian women as a whole. There is a lack of women...
Published 11 months ago by Darcy Knight


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Overview of Christian Women Throughout the Ages, June 27, 2011
This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
When I initially flipped through the book my first impression was that Feminine Threads was a bit dry, but upon beginning the first chapter, this was not at all correct. The author, Diana Severance, PhD, Rice University, presents the information in the "Women in Church History" courses she taught. The book is assembled in an easy-to-read format, providing just enough detail to whet the appetite to learn more about church history and the ladies featured. I found myself desiring to learn additional details about some of the women in this book. Diana provides ample resources for those wishing to study these stories in depth. The bibliography is 22 pages in length.

The book weaves together the stories of women from all walks of life such as martyrs, mystics, homemakers, queens, and nuns. As it ties their stories together it reveals who influenced whom. It begins with how Jesus treated women: with honor, dignity and respect. Throughout the chapters this attitude of honor and respect for women and the importance of family and the sanctity of life are found in those who made the Bible their authority. Severance traces the threads of asceticism, Mariolotry, Antinomianism, feminism and the Social Gospel, in addition to many other doctrines. She shows how celibacy was revered during the Middle Ages and the Reformation caused the pendulum to be swung to the other end of the spectrum. The book is interspersed with direct quotes and bits of poetry and prose. I learned new information about doctrinal errors, church history and the beginnings of most denominations.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and my one complaint is that I wish it had an index. I read several sections to my husband, which is highly unusual. I couldn't read this book without a highlighter. Thank you, Diana, for an excellent read. I plan to eventually teach through this book with my daughter.

Disclaimer: Christian Focus Publications provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Thorough History of Christian Ladies, July 8, 2011
This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
This was actually a deeper read than I was expecting but found myself eager to keep reading. I zipped through it in all the spare minutes I could snag on vacation. An excellent survey on women throughout church history. As with the reviews above, I am grateful that while she faithfully laid Scripture next to unbiblical women, she did not muddy the flow of the book with her opinions but left readers to conclude the obvious failures of those women. The book covers a variety of useful ladies from all "stripes" of Christianity. Hundreds of women, hundreds of years, all a part of massive sovereignty--beautiful hope. For personal application, I was able to take way from the book a weight of realization of my little, God-ordained influence on the lives I serve and live with. The book also whets an appetite to further study these ladies in individual detail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starting Point & Reference, June 28, 2011
This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
Feminine Threads serves as a good introduction to and survey of women throughout church history for any reader. Although it is a book about women, it is not primarily a book for women. It begins with the New Testament era, highlighting women in Jesus' genealogy and closes with women from modern times, such as Joni Eareckson Tada and Elisabeth Elliot. While Feminine Threads includes many familiar names, there are also many with which most people will be unfamiliar.

Feminine Threads appears to be thoroughly researched, includes an extensive bibliography, is well documented, and notes resources (and web links) for further study. The author, Diana Lynn Severance, carefully selected many pertinent quotes, allowing the women "...to speak for themselves, from their letters, diaries, or published works" whenever possible (pg. 15).

Ms. Severance is balanced in her presentation of those who have gone before us; she does not merely write about the wonderful things they did but rather, like the Bible, is realistic about people's strengths and weaknesses. She also seeks to esteem God highly rather than elevating man and includes specific quotes where women have also sought to do the same.

One of the many strengths of this book is that Ms. Severance often brings Scripture to bear on the poor theology encountered in a study of this nature. While she does not go into great depth regarding specific errors, she is faithful to remark upon them and apply appropriate Scriptures, as needed. For example, Ms. Severance notes that many mystics began to interpret Scripture allegorically and placed more emphasis on their feelings rather than the truth of Scripture. Of this, she observes:

"The fire of the mystics balanced somewhat the aridity of the scholastic debate. Jesus had told the Samaritan woman (John 4) that worship was to be in spirit and in truth. Through the history of the Church the pendulum has often swung between one and the other. Exclusive focus on the truth at times produced an intellectual dryness that quenched the spirit. Exclusive focus on the spirit apart from the truth of Scripture led to heresy" (pg 128, 132).

Additionally, Ms. Severance "...aims to equip the reader to refute the distortions of women in Christian history" and combat unbiblical, feminist thought. Feminine Threads will serve as a good discussion starter about the importance of knowing Scripture and Biblical doctrine.

It is evident that Ms. Severance strives to remain true to the facts and does not appear to embellish or sugarcoat the truth. That being said, the factual nature of this book makes it better suited for reading in small segments rather than attempting to read large portions at a time. There are helpful headings within each chapter that allow the reader to easily navigate and take breaks, as desired. The facts are interesting but presented in a matter-of-fact manner, in spite of a narrative style.

Feminine Threads provides encouragement to persevere as Clothilda when she urged her husband to recognize the Christian God (96) and as Monica as she prayed for her son, Augustine (pg. 73). May we primarily identify with Christ as Perpetua (pg. 44) and share "a vision for the Eternal...so that this world and its delights became worthless" (pg. 74) as Augustine and Monica. May each of our families be "...a little church, consecrated to Christ and wholly influenced and governed by His rules" (pg. 223) as Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.

The apostle Paul said:

"Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself" (Philippians 3:17-21, ESV - emphasis added).

Through Feminine Threads, we are reminded of God's continued faithfulness and that He uses His children in spite of our many shortcomings. Of Christian women throughout the ages, Ms. Severance writes:

"They are specimens of the universal Christian life demanded of us all, lived by not a few; not perfect,...but being perfected; not...complete in any one; complete only in Him who is the Head and Life of all, and in His whole Body, which is the Church. Nor, thank God, are they records of a race and a life passed away. At this moment I could lead you into home after home around us now, blessed and hallowed by lives as Christ-like and humble and sweet" (pg. 10).

May we all strive to live such Christ-like lives because of the work of Christ on our behalf, because of His work within us, and because of all that awaits us in the coming Kingdom that Christ may not be reviled! May we "...not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9, ESV).

*Many thanks to Christian Focus Publications for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring History of Christian Women, January 12, 2012
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This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
This was the best book I read last year! Such an inspiring look into the history of women and their relationship with Christ. So fascinating to see how God has used women throughout history to continue His great love story towards His creation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feminine Threads, September 17, 2011
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This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
This book was excellent and it inspired me to live my life more for the glory of God.. It captivated me with the amazing stories of women of Jesus through the 20th century. I will read this book again and I think all Christian women should read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!, June 29, 2011
This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
Diana Severance's book is a crash course in church history, specifically the role of women in the historical narrative of the church. She traces specific women and their stories from the New Testament era through the end of two millennia, all in 300 or so pages! It is a quick and cursory look, to be sure, yet the pace does not hinder her objective but rather helps the reader gain insight into the broad spectrum of the contribution of women in church history, the big picture as it were.

Feminine Threads is chronological in its approach, beginning as I said with the New Testament era and the early church, weaving its way through late antiquity, the middle ages, and the reformation, concluding with chapters on the Puritans, the Victorians, and finally our modern culture. Severance explains her approach in the Introduction:
"Each chapter includes general background information important to understanding the historical era of the chapter. Within each chapter, stories of Christian women are grouped according to their most prominent roles during that period--wives, mothers, ascetics, queens, writers, educators, reformers, evangelists, or philanthropists, etc. Wherever possible, the women are allowed to speak for themselves, from their letters, diaries, or published works."

I confess I know little of church history and even less of the women whose narratives are highlighted in Feminine Threads. As one ignorant of much of what I was reading about, I thought it a fascinating and encouraging. From queens to slaves, women played an important role in the defense and spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the centuries of church history! Some modern historians have attempted to represent church history as demeaning and suppressive to women yet Severance asserts that "we do not need to create an imagined narrative out of speculative evidence." The evidence is there, as noted by Severance's thorough research and her extensive footnotes.

True, I may disagree strongly with various doctrinal beliefs or lifestyles of some whose stories are told in Feminine Threads. Yet I find it refreshing that this book
"...[does not] write histories--of commoners or of so-called elite--based on what we would have liked for them to have been. Neither do we seek to superimpose contemporary thought patterns and standards on earlier societies. Though at times the evidence might raise unanswered questions, or we might wish the facts to be different, the truth of the story of women in Christian history inspires, challenges, and, above all, demonstrates the grace of God producing much fruit through Christian women throughout two millennia of the Church."

It does indeed. I was inspired and challenged by the grace of God and the fruit of the gospel borne by these, my forerunners in the faith. I highly recommend Feminine Threads. It is an important and encouraging, not to mention engrossing, read, one that will benefit all believers. I'd like to thank Christian Focus for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Contributions by Women to the Church, January 2, 2013
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This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
"From commoner to queen, the women in this book embraced the freedom and the power of the Gospel in making their unique contributions to the unfolding of history. Wherever possible, the women here speak for themselves, from their letters, diaries or published works. The true story of women in Christian history inspires, challenges and demonstrates the grace of God producing much fruit throughout time." From Blandina and Perpetua all the way to Edith Schaeffer and Joni Eareckson Tada, this book spans the history of the church, showing how godly women have contributed to the Christian faith. Carolyn McCulley has a good overview of the book at her blog.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Encouragement through the ages, August 20, 2012
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Severance gives a broad and informative overview of the role women played in the spread of Christianity throughout history. In this work, she offers examples of women who risked everything for the gospel and made an impact on their communities and their world. While at times the work lacks objectivity in regards to theological and denominational leanings, it acknowledges the impact of women from all schools of theological thought. The book serves to encourage women to hold fast to their faith despite their current circumstances. The many historical accounts of women who fought for truth often against societal pressure and in opposition to their own families wishes supports the value of both men and women in the work of the kingdom of God. This is a historical text that informs the reader of the rich history of women of faith.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing, July 24, 2013
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This review is from: Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History (Paperback)
On the good side, this book has plenty of good things to say about women in Christian history. On the other side, it only speaks to the Christian women that agree with the worldview of the author. I expected this to be comprehensive, but it was not. I'll pass this on to someone else, and look for a book that speaks to Christian women as a whole. There is a lack of women who worked in leadership roles, which makes this book a bit of a disappointment.
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Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History
Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History by Diana, Lynn Severance (Paperback - March 20, 2011)
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