Fox News anchor Shannon Bream’s favorite portion of her book about women in the Bible is retelling the story of the “unclean” woman found in Mark 5:21.
“We’re told that she comes before (Jesus) trembling and in fear falls down before him to confess everything,” Bream explains. “So instead of Jesus saying, ‘You’re unclean, how dare you be out here? And how dare you reach out to me?’ Even if you didn’t believe he was the son of God, he was an esteemed religious teacher or rabbi. He doesn’t say any of that. The first thing he says to her is, ‘Daughter.’”
She continues: “I love, love, love that because again and again, in his word, (Jesus) shows compassion. He shows acceptance. Even when he’s meeting people who are caught in sin — there are plenty of male examples, but females, too. The woman who was going to be stoned after being caught in adultery, he says to the men there, ‘You without sin cast the first stone.’”
Talking about the New York Times best-selling book, The Women of the Bible Speak, Bream comes across like a Bible teacher as much as a journalist.
She grew up in a Christian home and attended Christian school and later graduated from Liberty University before earning a law degree at Florida State University. That combination of life experiences makes sharing her Christian faith a natural expression.
Her hope for the book — now in its fifth week on the Times bestseller list for advice, how-to and miscellaneous books — is to “expose people who may not pick up a Bible but would pick up this book and hear these stories about these women and find encouragement and hope.”
The volume tells the stories of 16 biblical women, offered in eight pairs. Each chapter includes Bream’s interpretation and commentary on the biblical stories, followed by a few discussion questions.
Women featured include Sarah and Hagar, Rachel and Leah, Tamar and Ruth, Deborah and Jael, Hannah and Miriam, Esther and Rahab, Mary and Martha, and Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The book concludes with a chapter on Jesus and women.
The book is not a scholarly treatment but a popular one, designed to lead readers to dig deeper into the biblical text themselves.
She cites her work as a journalist as motivation for researching and writing the book.
“I think part of it’s the investigating — the wanting to find out more of the story, wanting to find out more about people, about circumstances of the women,” she explained.
“I’m really open about the fact that I’ve had some really dark valleys, but God has been faithful through all of it.”
And through that investigation, she found hope and renewal herself, she said. “I’m really open about the fact that I’ve had some really dark valleys, but God has been faithful through all of it. Whether it was my mistake, whether it was life circumstances, medical, financial, hardships, whatever it’s been, God’s been faithful through all of it.”
Her message of hope is this: “God can still work through our messes. And so all of that just was refreshed and renewed for me in the process in investigating and studying these women.”
She understands that by reporting the news nightly — which she loves doing — she can cut through the pervading despondence and heaviness found in so many news stories with a gentle dose of hope. And she sees her role as a news anchor as being different than other talking heads on the network.
“You know, once you reach the level of screaming over each other, then nobody’s learning anything,” she said. “And certainly not from each other, which is when I know that I have to call technical foul and maybe cut someone’s mic off.”
On her program as well as in the book, she hopes to bring the noise level down and offer insight to her audience and readers.
She preaches a kind of faithfulness that will see anyone through if they decide to give their problems to God. The stories of these 16 women are proof to her that God can turn any story around.