HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: God’s Woman: The Place of Women in the Social and Religious Life as Revealed in the Bible
Author: C. R. Nichol
Publisher: Nichol Publishing, 1938
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Nichol, C. R. God’s Woman: The Place of Women in the Social and Religious Life as Revealed in the Bible (published in 1938 by Nichol Publishing Company, Clifton, TX). The subject of women’s role in the church has been a topic of debate in the religious world generally and even in churches of Christ specifically for many years. It goes from one extreme of women preachers to the other extreme where women are to be seen but not heard period. I purchased a copy of C. R. Nichol’s book God’s Woman in 1973 when I was in college. Charles Ready Nichol (1876-1961), author of the well known and popular Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia, was born at Readyville, TN, and grew up in Murfreesboro, TN. He attended the Nashville Bible School in Nashville, TN; Southwest Kentucky College at Winchester, KY; Vanderbilt University at Nashville, TN; and Transylvania University at Lexington, KY. In 1892, Nichol came to Texas and served as minister of the church at Corsicana for two years. From Corsicana, he moved to Clifton, TX, where he was minister of the church for another two-year period. In 1948 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Abilene Christian College in Abilene, Texas. Most of the remaining years of his lifetime, and until his health became impaired, Nichol engaged in evangelistic endeavors among churches of Christ throughout the United States and in many sections of Canada. From1944 to 1946, he taught advanced Bible classes at George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles, CA.
In God’s Woman, Nichol opened with a discussion of “Some Women of the Bible,” beginning with Miriam and Deborah down to Philip’s four daughters. Then he applied the principles learned from these examples to women’s work, dress, customs, subjection, place in the home, and teaching. Three chapters deal with special passages on women, namely 1 Corinthians 11:4-5, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and 1Timothy 2:8-14. There is a chapter devoted to “Deaconesses.” It may have been designed for a women’s Bible study as there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter. A friend of mine used the material in the book on Miriam to develop a lesson on Moses’s sister. Nichol was criticized by many in his day because he argued that the woman’s wearing of a covering in worship was just a custom rather than a commandment and that women could teach children in the local church’s Bible class program, whereas many churches and preachers, especially in the Southeast, believed that women must wear a veil in the assembly and are not permitted to do any teaching in a Bible class even of children. I happen to agree with Nichol on these points. Because there is such a diversity of views on these topics, various individuals may find areas of disagreement with some of Nichol’s observations. I myself do not fully concur with some of his comments on “deaconesses.”
In spite of this, the book contains much useful information, and even where one might disagree, Nichol’s arguments are well thought out and worthy of consideration. In all things, Nichol upholds the Biblical principle of subjection (Colossians 3:18). He certainly did not have sympathy with nor give approval to women preachers and elders, even though some “change agents” in the church like to portray him as doing so. One reviewer noted that Nichol had a very high view of the authority of Scripture and said that he “firmly believed that God designed men for the role of leadership at creation. He also was convinced women were to be in a submissive role among God’s people. Women were not allowed to usurp man’s authority. But he is also convinced that women are often called to teach and even lead men without violating their authority….Nichol does not in any way diminish the responsibility of male leadership, but he also has a very high view of women as well. So do I. Women are to be submissive, but they are not inferior. Therefore, Nichol does not take an egalitarian view of woman, but I did find his comments credible, respectable, and quite refreshing.” I agree with another reviewer who wrote, “It might have been written several years ago, but so has the Bible and this is one great book to learn what the Bible teaches!!!!” The book has been reprinted, at least once I think by the Gospel Advocate, but does not now appear to be in publication.