Review: Defiant by Kelley Nikondeha

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Kelley Nikondeha speak a couple of times, first at the women’s’ retreat she mentions often in Defiant, and more recently at Evolving Faith. Having heard Kelley in person and experienced first-hand her heart for the women of Exodus, I was excited to read Defiant: What the Women of Exodus Teach Us About Freedom.


And oh, my word, this book did NOT disappoint. In fact, it might even be my favorite theology book of the year. And to be clear, regardless of how else this book might be classified, it is - at its core - a theological exposition of Exodus.

What sets Defiant apart, however, is Kelley’s imagination. She uses her holy imagination to fill in some of the gaps and to tell the stories of the women of Exodus. Her work is heavily researched and beautiful. Her stories make the women of Exodus come alive… So much so that they sent me running back to Exodus, eager to reread these character’s stories in Scripture, almost in an attempt to prove Kelley’s expository work wrong. (I never did. She and her work are SOLID.)

The other thing that sets Defiant apart is its justice bent. While I’ve long thought of Exodus as a story about liberation and justice, the way in which Kelley juxtaposes the stories of the women of Exodus onto modern day examples of women doing the work of liberation and justice is incredible. It left me feeling both hopeful and challenged to join in this important work of liberation and justice.

In short, I highly recommend Defiant. Regardless of how well you think you know the book of Exodus, Defiant has much to teach you. It will leave you wanting to join in God’s liberation dance.


I was honored to receive a copy of Defiant from Eerdmans and chose to review the book. All opinions are my own.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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