Why a women’s devotional Bible?
A note from Erika Allen, managing editor of the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible.
Several years ago, when this project was in the earliest stages, a couple things stood out as we were researching what was currently available for women in terms of devotional material and Bible study helps. The most important was just how little Bible-based, gospel-driven material, written specifically for women, was out there. Much of the devotional material available was only loosely tied to Scripture, if at all. And quite often the projects included only excerpts taken from preexisting works.
With this in mind, we have sought to set a new standard of excellence in devotional Bibles. Contributors were instructed that all material must be 1.) based explicitly on the text of Scripture and 2.) created specifically for the Women’s Devotional Bible. The goal is that after reading all the devotionals for a particular book of the Bible, the reader will have a good grasp of the overall message of that book and its place in the history of salvation. In order to help accomplish this, we chose which passages contributors should focus on based which passages most clearly cover the key themes of each Bible book.
The purpose of the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible, then, is to nurture women in their relationship with the Lord by encouraging daily, prayerful Bible study and by deepening their understanding of the Bible through theologically rich content that inspires practical application of Scripture to every aspect of life.
The question naturally arose concerning how the project would be targeted to women, specifically, and to what extent the Women’s Devotional Bible would focus on the issues of biblical womanhood and gender distinctiveness. Since many of the contributors are women, the project will, in a sense, be inherently accessible to women. Features such as articles and character profiles will be clearly geared toward women, as will the Bible’s design. That said, the primary goal of the devotionals should always be to explain the text and show how it can be applied in any believer’s life. In those passages where there is direct and clear application for women in particular, that should be highlighted and expounded on. However, we would never want to force this on every passage. The most important thing should always be a clear exposition of Scripture.