Women everywhere marvel at those "good girls" in Scripture-Sarah, Mary, Esther-but on most days, that's not who they see when they look in the mirror. Most women (if they're honest) see the selfishness of Sapphira or the deception of Delilah. They catch of glimpse of Jezebel's take-charge pride or Eve's disastrous disobedience. Like Bathsheba, Herodias, and the rest, today's modern woman is surrounded by temptations, exhausted by the demands of daily living, and burdened by her own desires.
Humorist and popular storyteller Higgs (Help! I'm Laughing and I Can't Get Up) takes a look at the vamps and tramps of the Bible, searching for the lessons these wicked women have to teach. She acknowledges that as much as she admires Sarah's faithfulness and Mary's innocence, she finds that her own life contains many of the shortcomings of women such as Rahab, Delilah and Lot's wife. When Higgs begins her study of Jezebel, she notes, "I understood her pushy personality, I empathized with her need for control, I tuned into her angry outbursts...but boy did she teach me what not to do in my marriage." She places the ten women in her study into four categories. Eve, she says, was the "First Bad Girl," for badness has to begin somewhere. Potiphar's wife (who tried to seduce Joseph), Delilah and Jezebel, Higgs says, were "Bad to the Bone": these women "sinned with gusto from bad beginning to bitter end." Women who were "Bad for a Moment," and who have forever been characterized by their "life-changing" mistakes, include Saphhira, Michal and Lot's wife (who was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back on her homeland against God's commands). Higgs says that Rahab, the prostitute who helped the Israelites conquer Jericho, the Woman at the Well and the Sinful Woman were "Bad for a Season, but Not Forever": these women "had plenty of sin in their past, but they were also willing to change and be changed." Higgs opens each chapter with a fictional retelling of the biblical story and then proceeds to a verse-by-verse exegesis and commentary on the biblical text. Each chapter closes with four lessons to be learned from the life of the bad girl and eight "thoughts worth considering." Higgs retells these biblical stories with rollicking humor and deep insight as she teaches about the nature of sin and goodness. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 17, 1999
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Excerpt from Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs
And when she was good
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Ruthie never saw it coming. His fist flashed toward her so fast she couldn't duck or turn away in time.
"Nooo!" Her cry echoed off the windshield of the Pontiac but went no further. Who would hear her in this parking lot anyway With trash cans and alley cats for neighbors, she could hardly expect some hero in a white Ford Mustang to drive by and rescue her, not at this late hour.
Hayden was leaning inside the open car window now, rubbing his knuckles as if to say, "There's more where that came from." As if she hadn't figured that out. As if she wasn't watching his every move.
Ruthie was nineteen, but she was nobody's fool.
She stared at the dashboard, feeling her cheek swell as the pain inched around her eye, along her nose, toward her temple. In her whole life no one had ever deliberately hit her. Even as a child, she hadn't been spanked at home or paddled in school.
She was a good girl. National Honor Society. State chorus. Editor in chief of her small-town high-school newspaper.
Nobody ever needed to hit Ruthie, for any reason.
So much for that claim to fame. She'd been hit now, and hard. Slowly, hoping Hayden wouldn't notice, she moved her jaw back and forth, grateful it could move.
He snorted, obviously disgusted with her. "I didn't break anything. But I could have. Now slide over or get out."
Not much choice there.
The time for making choices was behind her -- that was clear. Weeks ago she'd chosen to spend that Thursday night at the Village Nightclub, knowing the kind of men who went there. And the kind of women. Women like me. She'd chosen to drag Hayden home with her because he was the right size and the right age and in the right state of mind: drunk. Too drunk to care whether or not she had a pretty face. Her face wasn't pretty now, of that Ruthie was certain.