Eve and Mary are Christian household names, but for many the list stops there.
BYU graduate Rebecca Greenwood recently released “Scripture Princesses,” a children’s book published by Cedar Fort that highlights the female role in the scriptures.
According to womeninthescriptures.com, there are 176 named women in the LDS Standard Works and hundreds more that remain unnamed. That is roughly 566 female references throughout the scriptures; yet most Primary children can probably only name a few.
“Growing up, I always wanted more stories for girls,” said Greenwood, who graduated from BYU with a degree in visual arts. Greenwood illustrates 15 women from the scriptures in her book, which targets girls ages six to twelve.
Greenwood said she is passionate about getting stories for girls and women that are written for them. “When you read the scriptures, often it’s like, ‘This guy did this, this guy did this, oh there’s a girl over here,’ and I wanted to show girls that yes, there are women in the scriptures, and you can learn from their lives,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood made a goal to instill in young girls that even though women can sometimes be overlooked, their actions do affect generations and what they do is important.
“There are women in the scriptures that (girls) can be inspired by,” Greenwood said. “Stories are to learn from — we can learn empathy, see how other people lived and how they dealt with their problems. So … this is how they dealt with their problems — you can deal with your problems, too.”
BYU church history professor and women’s studies member Mary Jane Woodger said she believes there is an explanation for the large ratio of scripture stories featuring men versus women.
“Prophets are types of Christ, so the role model for all of us is Christ,” Woodger said. “I think you teach the scriptures the same to a man or a woman because the role model is Christ. The women that are in the scriptures, you of course look at that woman and ask yourself, ‘Why is she included?’ They represent characteristics of Christ that you want to emulate.”
Provo Primary president Suzanne Gourdin said it’s always good to learn more about people in the scriptures, whether it’s about a woman or a man, but she is unsure whether introducing more women characters to Primary-aged children would make a difference.
“(Primary children) are young, they are very accepting of the things that we talk to them about, and I don’t think that they would even notice that we are talking about something different from what we had talked about before,” Gourdin said. “They don’t have much experience at church, so it wouldn’t be this really novel thing. It would just be, ‘We’re talking about women now.'”
But some believe women are already prevalent in church discussion. Diana Bryson, a Provo Stake Young Women’s leader, believes there already is enough of an emphasis.
“I feel like we talk about women in the church all of the time,” Bryson said. “I personally have given lessons on women in the scriptures to girls of all ages … so much is said in a short story. That’s the same as the women in the scriptures. It doesn’t matter the size or the length of your story. It matters the impact of what it is or what they did.”
Woodger said women in the scriptures serve as a pattern. She said there are “definitely amazing stories” about women that are included in the scriptures.
“In all scriptures you look at you say, ‘Well, what did they do? How did they build their testimony and build their faith? That’s how I can too,'” Woodger said. “And that is a great blessing … I think those stories that are placed there, the Lord placed there because they are the stories that women will relate to.”
The book can be purchased on Amazon.com.