Richard M. Hannula, Radiant: Fifty Remarkable Women in Church History (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2015), 319 pages.
It is deeply encouraging to find Christian historians and authors beginning to recognize the important role played by women in the history of God’s people, and pen both popular and more academic studies of this important subject. This recent book by Richard Hannula, the principal of a Christian High School in Tacoma, Washington, is a popular approach written especially for young people. It sketches the lives of some fifty Christian women. Some are well-known, like Perpetua and Monica, Sarah Edwards and Edith Schaeffer, while others, like Erdmuth von Zinzendorf and Bilquis Sheikh, are little known. But all of them, through Hannula’s adroit hand, have something to teach present-day believers. The life of Lady Jane Grey, for example, reveals a “sturdy faith in Christ” and a robust grasp of the vital truths at the heart of the Reformation (p.132). Eta Linnemann, a twentieth-century German higher critic, who was converted from liberal theology, reveals the bankruptcy of such theology and the necessity of the new birth (p.304–307). Particularly helpful about the women chosen for this book is that they come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, a good representation of the globalization of the Christian faith in the past two hundred years.
While Hannula is very aware that his sketches only “scratch the surface” of these “women’s lives” (p.2), his brief chapters succeed in giving the reader a desire to know more about these notable women. “For Further Reading” (p.315–319) contains other books on these women for those interested, though not every woman in the book is represented. Some of the books listed are dated—for example, a 1909 study of Jane Grey is cited, not the much more recent study by Faith Cook—but these resources will by and large enable an interested reader to build on the good foundation in this book.
Michael A.G. Haykin
Professor of Church History
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary