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A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master"

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

33 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

An honest, humorous, and touching engagement with the Bible

I received an advance Reader's Copy of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" for review, much to my delight. I've been looking forward to the release of this book since I learned of Rachel Held Evans' bold project. I was very interested in the idea of living for a year accordi...
I received an advance Reader's Copy of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" for review, much to my delight. I've been looking forward to the release of this book since I learned of Rachel Held Evans' bold project. I was very interested in the idea of living for a year according to as literal a reading as possible of the Bible's texts pertaining to women. I was not disappointed. Having been introduced to Rachel's writing on her blog, I already found myself drawn in by her generously inclusive style and her ready wit. I assumed, rightly so, that the book would be more of the same. While I don't agree with every one of Rachel's conclusions, I appreciate that she doesn't leave closed doors. She invites conversation, including disagreement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Rachel's adventures. Among my favorites were her not-quite-right apple pie, her front lawn camp-out, and her experience with a mutinous electronic baby. I equally appreciated her more thought-provoking accounts of her interactions with a wide range of people with whom she met in the course of the project. Readers will meet all sorts of quirky and interesting women, from Rachel's Orthodox Jewish correspondent in Israel to the woman who broke down the barriers to preaching in Texas to the women working to build better lives in Bolivia. When it comes to Rachel's thorough examination of Scripture, I found myself most appreciative of three things: First, each chapter contains an account of a woman whose story can be found in the Bible. I had often seen these women as "perfect," the women who did exactly what God wants all good and faithful women to do--the same things that we are supposed to do today. Instead, Rachel demonstrates how many of these women defied what modern Christians expect; this was a refreshing take on passages I've read many times. Second, I deeply appreciate Rachel's examination of Proverbs 31, the Wife of Noble Character. I had always seen the Proberbs 31 wife as an enemy, because she was an ideal I could never match. Rachel expertly demonstrates why we don't need to fear the reverent poetry in the text and why each one of us, in our own way, is Eshet chayil--a woman of valor. Third, I enjoyed Rachel's fresh insights into what the words of the Bible came to mean for her during each phase of her project. This provided a welcome change from the hard-line "commandment" view of a woman's role within the community of faith. Although there has been much talk about Rachel being irreverent, "ignoring" Scripture or tradition, or making a mockery of the Bible, not one of those things is true. It is obvious that Rachel's love for the Bible grew as she worked her way through the year. It is vital that anyone who wants to understand her perspective must read the book, even if the end result is confirming disagreement with Rachel. I believe this book is one of the most important books of our time. I highly recommend this book to anyone, even those who take a less progressive view of their Christian faith and those who (like me) are considerably more liberal than Rachel herself. Be warned, though, it may change your perspective and soften your heart.

posted by wifie29 on October 22, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

53 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

The word ¿biblical¿ in this book¿s title has to be taken with a

The word “biblical” in this book’s title has to be taken with a grain of salt – maybe the entire shaker. This author’s approach to the Bible is, to put it mildly, unorthodox. Like every liberal – and that is what she is, despite her hanging on (for obvious economic re...
The word “biblical” in this book’s title has to be taken with a grain of salt – maybe the entire shaker. This author’s approach to the Bible is, to put it mildly, unorthodox. Like every liberal – and that is what she is, despite her hanging on (for obvious economic reasons) to the label “evangelical” – she gets all weepy about rules, which apparently were given by God to make us guilt-ridden, exhausted, and confused.” Really? What is confusing about “Do not commit adultery”? If her husband ever commits that sin, he can plead that he was “guilt-ridden, exhausted, and confused.” It never once – never – occurs to her that the purpose of rules is not to produce guilt, exhaust, and confuse us. Being immature, she looks at rules as a child does – they make you feel bad and keep you from feeling good. God gave us rules the same reason parents impose rules – to keep us safe. Typical of feminists, she sees God as the Great Self-Esteem Enhancer, not as the loving Father who makes rules because his children NEED rules. Her conception of God is utterly unchristian.

According to her, the Bible is supposed to be “conversation-starter” and not a “conversation-ender.” I would love to listen in on her Bible study group and what they do with “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Wellll, I feel love, sometimes, but what if I want to spray my neighbor’s entire yard with Round-Up?” “Great question! Let’s talk about that! What do you think, Wendy?” Get a group of magpie types in a room together and they could get quite creative, couldn’t they? Since she’s so sure that rules are in place just to make us feel guilty, exhausted, and confused, who’s to say the group wouldn’t heartily approve of spraying the neighbor’s yard with Round-Up? (“At first I felt it was wrong – then it hit me: I’m not comfortable with a religion of rules, that doesn’t fit my image of God.”)

For this author, what’s already in your head is more important than what the writers of the Bible were trying to communicate. (They were patriarchal, plus those nasty literalists “abuse” people with the Bible’s words.) The Bible, for her, is a tool to be used as she likes, not the Word of God that believers are bound to honor. When she spends time trying to apply the purity laws in Leviticus to her own life, she is in fact making fun of the Bible, saying to the reader, “See how ridiculous we are trying to let the Bible guide our lives.” In fact, Christian women have never, ever, applied the laws of Leviticus (in fact, no part of the Old Testament Law except for the Ten Commandments). For a time she abides by the kosher food laws, even though the Gospels and Paul’s letters in the New Testament make it clear that Christians are not bound by those laws. The author is using a typical liberal ploy: pick some forgotten parts of the Old Testament, apply them to life, show how ridiculous it is, then draw the conclusion: Why bother to live by the Bible - after all, Christians don’t actually follow it ALL to the letter anyway. She never deals with the fact that Christians have put aside the ritual laws (food, animal sacrifices, etc) but retained the moral teaching

Her take on Paul’s words about husband and wives is “spun”: she claims that since Paul told slaves to obey their masters, and since slavery no longer exists among Christians, that his words about wives being submissive to their husbands no longer apply either. That is faulty logic, since marriage was and is a universal institution, whereas slavery is not. Again, this is a familiar liberal ploy: point out an isolated verse from the Bible that Christians no longer observe, and jump to the conclusion that there is no point in being guided by the Bible at all.

Naturally she mentions the famous “Junias or Junia?” debate that has gotten feminists fired up in recent years, and she takes the feminists’ side, i.e., the claim that Paul in Romans 16:7 refers to a woman relative named “Junia” as one of the apostles, but that later Bible scholars (all nasty sexists) added an “s” so that the apostle “Junias” is male. In fact, the issue is far from settled, though she assumes her readers’ will gladly swallow her assertion that poor “Junia” was victim of a patriarchal conspiracy. To her the issue shows “the lengths to which some will go to try and silence a strong woman.” In other words, there WERE female apostles, though it’s curious that, if that were so, Junia is the ONLY one mentioned in the Bible. Most scholars (the ones without a feminist bias) have reached the conclusion that probably Romans 16:7 should read “Junia, who is esteemed by the apostles,” but the author does not accept this.

This book apparently was not edited. Non sequiturs abound – for example, “Right now thirty thousand children die every day from preventable disease.” She cites this in a long list of “data” designed to support her point that women “prophets” are being silenced in the churches. What exactly the death of children has to do with women’s role in churches is beyond me. Just when you think the author has, for several paragraphs, been making sense, along comes some “paranoid burp” like this, as if she has to assure the reader, “Yes, I’m a feminist, and I’m full of data that show how cruel men are!”

posted by TerriKin on February 16, 2013

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  • Posted February 16, 2013

    The word ¿biblical¿ in this book¿s title has to be taken with a

    The word “biblical” in this book’s title has to be taken with a grain of salt – maybe the entire shaker. This author’s approach to the Bible is, to put it mildly, unorthodox. Like every liberal – and that is what she is, despite her hanging on (for obvious economic reasons) to the label “evangelical” – she gets all weepy about rules, which apparently were given by God to make us guilt-ridden, exhausted, and confused.” Really? What is confusing about “Do not commit adultery”? If her husband ever commits that sin, he can plead that he was “guilt-ridden, exhausted, and confused.” It never once – never – occurs to her that the purpose of rules is not to produce guilt, exhaust, and confuse us. Being immature, she looks at rules as a child does – they make you feel bad and keep you from feeling good. God gave us rules the same reason parents impose rules – to keep us safe. Typical of feminists, she sees God as the Great Self-Esteem Enhancer, not as the loving Father who makes rules because his children NEED rules. Her conception of God is utterly unchristian.

    According to her, the Bible is supposed to be “conversation-starter” and not a “conversation-ender.” I would love to listen in on her Bible study group and what they do with “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Wellll, I feel love, sometimes, but what if I want to spray my neighbor’s entire yard with Round-Up?” “Great question! Let’s talk about that! What do you think, Wendy?” Get a group of magpie types in a room together and they could get quite creative, couldn’t they? Since she’s so sure that rules are in place just to make us feel guilty, exhausted, and confused, who’s to say the group wouldn’t heartily approve of spraying the neighbor’s yard with Round-Up? (“At first I felt it was wrong – then it hit me: I’m not comfortable with a religion of rules, that doesn’t fit my image of God.”)

    For this author, what’s already in your head is more important than what the writers of the Bible were trying to communicate. (They were patriarchal, plus those nasty literalists “abuse” people with the Bible’s words.) The Bible, for her, is a tool to be used as she likes, not the Word of God that believers are bound to honor. When she spends time trying to apply the purity laws in Leviticus to her own life, she is in fact making fun of the Bible, saying to the reader, “See how ridiculous we are trying to let the Bible guide our lives.” In fact, Christian women have never, ever, applied the laws of Leviticus (in fact, no part of the Old Testament Law except for the Ten Commandments). For a time she abides by the kosher food laws, even though the Gospels and Paul’s letters in the New Testament make it clear that Christians are not bound by those laws. The author is using a typical liberal ploy: pick some forgotten parts of the Old Testament, apply them to life, show how ridiculous it is, then draw the conclusion: Why bother to live by the Bible - after all, Christians don’t actually follow it ALL to the letter anyway. She never deals with the fact that Christians have put aside the ritual laws (food, animal sacrifices, etc) but retained the moral teaching

    Her take on Paul’s words about husband and wives is “spun”: she claims that since Paul told slaves to obey their masters, and since slavery no longer exists among Christians, that his words about wives being submissive to their husbands no longer apply either. That is faulty logic, since marriage was and is a universal institution, whereas slavery is not. Again, this is a familiar liberal ploy: point out an isolated verse from the Bible that Christians no longer observe, and jump to the conclusion that there is no point in being guided by the Bible at all.

    Naturally she mentions the famous “Junias or Junia?” debate that has gotten feminists fired up in recent years, and she takes the feminists’ side, i.e., the claim that Paul in Romans 16:7 refers to a woman relative named “Junia” as one of the apostles, but that later Bible scholars (all nasty sexists) added an “s” so that the apostle “Junias” is male. In fact, the issue is far from settled, though she assumes her readers’ will gladly swallow her assertion that poor “Junia” was victim of a patriarchal conspiracy. To her the issue shows “the lengths to which some will go to try and silence a strong woman.” In other words, there WERE female apostles, though it’s curious that, if that were so, Junia is the ONLY one mentioned in the Bible. Most scholars (the ones without a feminist bias) have reached the conclusion that probably Romans 16:7 should read “Junia, who is esteemed by the apostles,” but the author does not accept this.

    This book apparently was not edited. Non sequiturs abound – for example, “Right now thirty thousand children die every day from preventable disease.” She cites this in a long list of “data” designed to support her point that women “prophets” are being silenced in the churches. What exactly the death of children has to do with women’s role in churches is beyond me. Just when you think the author has, for several paragraphs, been making sense, along comes some “paranoid burp” like this, as if she has to assure the reader, “Yes, I’m a feminist, and I’m full of data that show how cruel men are!”

    53 out of 98 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2012

    An honest, humorous, and touching engagement with the Bible

    I received an advance Reader's Copy of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" for review, much to my delight. I've been looking forward to the release of this book since I learned of Rachel Held Evans' bold project. I was very interested in the idea of living for a year according to as literal a reading as possible of the Bible's texts pertaining to women. I was not disappointed. Having been introduced to Rachel's writing on her blog, I already found myself drawn in by her generously inclusive style and her ready wit. I assumed, rightly so, that the book would be more of the same. While I don't agree with every one of Rachel's conclusions, I appreciate that she doesn't leave closed doors. She invites conversation, including disagreement. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Rachel's adventures. Among my favorites were her not-quite-right apple pie, her front lawn camp-out, and her experience with a mutinous electronic baby. I equally appreciated her more thought-provoking accounts of her interactions with a wide range of people with whom she met in the course of the project. Readers will meet all sorts of quirky and interesting women, from Rachel's Orthodox Jewish correspondent in Israel to the woman who broke down the barriers to preaching in Texas to the women working to build better lives in Bolivia. When it comes to Rachel's thorough examination of Scripture, I found myself most appreciative of three things: First, each chapter contains an account of a woman whose story can be found in the Bible. I had often seen these women as "perfect," the women who did exactly what God wants all good and faithful women to do--the same things that we are supposed to do today. Instead, Rachel demonstrates how many of these women defied what modern Christians expect; this was a refreshing take on passages I've read many times. Second, I deeply appreciate Rachel's examination of Proverbs 31, the Wife of Noble Character. I had always seen the Proberbs 31 wife as an enemy, because she was an ideal I could never match. Rachel expertly demonstrates why we don't need to fear the reverent poetry in the text and why each one of us, in our own way, is Eshet chayil--a woman of valor. Third, I enjoyed Rachel's fresh insights into what the words of the Bible came to mean for her during each phase of her project. This provided a welcome change from the hard-line "commandment" view of a woman's role within the community of faith. Although there has been much talk about Rachel being irreverent, "ignoring" Scripture or tradition, or making a mockery of the Bible, not one of those things is true. It is obvious that Rachel's love for the Bible grew as she worked her way through the year. It is vital that anyone who wants to understand her perspective must read the book, even if the end result is confirming disagreement with Rachel. I believe this book is one of the most important books of our time. I highly recommend this book to anyone, even those who take a less progressive view of their Christian faith and those who (like me) are considerably more liberal than Rachel herself. Be warned, though, it may change your perspective and soften your heart.

    33 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    This is a book of honest questions ¿ about what it means to be a

    This is a book of honest questions – about what it means to be a woman who follows Christ, how we choose to interpret Scripture, how we limit and bless one another.

    This book is not a step-by-step devotional on becoming a better, more “biblical” woman (which we don’t need another one of anyway). This book is the journey of one woman pressing in to what the “biblical” woman looks like and discovering instead “that there is no such thing.” (pg 294)

    This book is full of surprises. Do you, after all, expect a “liberated woman” to find her voice in silence (chapter 11), strong roots in gentleness (chapter 1), and a tear-inspiring blessing in Proverbs 31 (chapter 4)?

    I was already a fan of Rachel Held Evans (and received an advanced copy of the book to review), introduced to her writing through her blog. Her honesty, wit, and occasional snark make for lively, delightful reading. I don’t always agree with her. I am always challenged by her to think, to consider, to grow.

    My favorite experience with this book is the journey you take with the author. Searching for things like valor, modesty, submission, justice, and grace changes a person. You’re rejoicing in the myriad of different ways women can express their faith, that there is no one mold to which we must conform.

    I finish this book simultaneously wanting to practice lectio divina and centering prayer, while beginning to live more justly, while working out my calling to creativity and communication, all while calling up multiple friends to bless them with the words eshet chayil (“woman of valor”) for expressing faith and courage in whatever context they’re living. The author is not the same at the end of the book, and neither should the reader be.

    In this book there is freedom to be who God is calling us to be.

    There is grace for those of us doing it imperfectly.

    There is laughter and delight for the journey ahead.

    22 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    I expected to learn from *A Year of Biblical Womanhood*. Rachel

    I expected to learn from *A Year of Biblical Womanhood*. Rachel Held Evans knows her Bible, and the premise of trying to literally obey all of its instructions to women provides plenty of scope for investigation and education. In addition to studying and explaining the history, culture, and language behind many of the Bible's most well-known (and most misunderstood) passages regarding women, Evans interviews or corresponds with women representing quite a diversity of views on biblical womanhood: a sister-wife, an Amish grandmother, an Orthodox Jewish woman, and a woman raised in a Quiverfull family, to name a few. Presented in a very accessible, personable style, interviews and exegesis join forces to convey so much new information that I will most likely end up reading this book again—some parts more than once.

    What I didn't expect to do was laugh as much as I did. Of course, I anticipated chuckling occasionally at some of Evans' more extreme antics, such as living in a tent for the first part of her period or calling her husband "Master" so she could be like The Proverbs 31 woman (who turns out to not be a real person). But Evans also sneaks a generous amount of snark past her "contentious woman" filter—nearly always directed at herself or society as a whole, and never at the lovely people she meets along her journey, disagree with them though she may. When she griped about a man getting all the glory for a successful Christmas (Santa, of course) or informed the reader, on rising for her first morning at a silent monastery, that "The Prophet Jeremiah is the last person you want to hear from at six o’clock in the morning", I burst out laughing in a room full of people.

    And whether she's making you laugh or making your head spin with new knowledge, Rachel Held Evans still makes you feel so very comfortable. She invites her readers into her life for a year, and experiencing the highs, lows, pitfalls, triumphs, joy, and peace of her journey is ultimately the most rewarding experience of the entire book.

    19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2012

    Some Christians who hold to what they call "literal" i

    Some Christians who hold to what they call "literal" interpretations of Scripture were convinced, upon learning of this book, that the authors' purpose in undertaking this project was to make fun of them, and even to make "a mockery of God and Scripture" itself (as one of her critics is quoted as saying on p. 285).

    While I doubt that any attempts to convince the nay-sayers that Evans isn't trying to make fun of them will be entirely successful, I do appreciate how one blogger points out that Evans actually goes through a considerable amount of pain and struggle in her yearlong effort: "People don't go through this much pain for the sake of mocking something."

    So, what does Evans achieve in this book? For starters, she demonstrates that to attempt to live by a literal interpretation of Scripture is not just difficult, but that no one, no matter how traditional, manages to do so fully. In fact, recognizing that such "literal" interpretations are not the normal lens through which Evans reads Scripture, she gets help from a number of diverse sources, including an Amish grandmother, an Orthodox Jewish wife, a member of the "Quiverfull" movement (which opposes any form of contraception as immoral on the belief that children -- as many as possible, and without regard to any other consequences -- are a blessing from God), an Evangelical (not Mormon!) polygamist, and even (recognizing how important traditional homemaking is to many Evangelicals) Martha Stewart! Each group emphasizes a particular aspect of what the Bible teaches, but no group even attempts to cover it all.

    But Evans isn't just trying to prove a point. She also goes into the effort in an honest attempt to learn more about what it is to take the Bible seriously. While her journey does not end up with her wholeheartedly adopting most of the "literalist" interpretations of Scripture she takes on, she nonetheless does decide to continue some of the practices she learns after the year is over. A list can be found in the final chapter, but it includes such items as "try a new recipe every week" (no small change for a woman who didn't even know how to cook before the experiment) and spending more time in contemplative prayer.

    As to those accusations of "mockery," it is certainly true that A Year of Biblical Womanhood is peppered throughout with a sense of humor, but Evans directs nearly all of it at her own failures (both perceived and, in more than a few cases, real). Despite clear disagreements with many of the people she interviews or references as espousing literal interpretations, the jokes are hardly ever directed at them. Indeed, I believe that most of those people, were they to pick up Evans' book, would at least be able to say that she describes their positions fairly, even as they will no doubt disagree with many of her conclusions.

    All in all, this book is less about what "biblical womanhood" might look like, and more about what the Bible itself is, and perhaps even more importantly, about what we as believers often make the Bible out to be, even when our assumptions about the Bible do not stand up to the scrutiny of the Bible itself. This is therefore not just a book that should be of interest to those who have a position on what the "biblical" role of women should be, but for anyone who cares about letting the Bible be the word of God as it is, and not simply what we would like the Bible to be.

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Reading Rachel Held Evans is like having a meaningful talk with

    Reading Rachel Held Evans is like having a meaningful talk with a very well informed, caring, insightful friend who is attentive to your interests and whom is not afraid to let her heart be known.  Her vulnerability is disarming and invites the reader to let her/his defenses down enough to test the waters of such openness.  Her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town, was my first exposure to this woman who was brave enough to ask the questions before her and courageous enough to wrestle with them until she, like Joseph wrestling with God, was blessed (and often broken) by the answers.  As one reads this book (and/or Evolving . . . .) it quickly becomes obvious that Ms. Evans, like Joseph, is struggling for her Birthright.  
    Ms. Evans decided, as she evidently she has too little tension in her life, to live a year in “strict” accordance to what the Bible understands to be “womanhood.”  The first task in this endeavor was to define “Biblical Womanhood.”  There is a wide variance on that answer from: religious tradition, culture, era, there is even wide differences according to what translation of the Bible is being consulted!  She does an honest job of seeking to find how to best fulfill this quest and the definition becomes clearer as the year progresses.  She does not cut corners (or her hair) and maintains her commitment to experiencing Biblical Womanhood even when it brings difficulty to herself, her extended family, including her loving, long suffering, husband, Dan.
    Choosing to follow twelve different “biblical woman traits,” spending a month immersed in learning and experiencing that particular attribute.  The qualities addressed were: Gentleness, Domesticity, Obedience, Valor, Beauty, Modesty, Purity, Fertility Submission, Justice, Silence and Grace.  Each chapter ends with a study of a biblical woman that “fits” the particular issue examined.  The author uses humor, sound Biblical study (context, language, exegesis) and her own experience to discover what it means, for her, to be a “Biblical” woman.  
    As trained journalist, Ms. Evans does a first-rate job of writing a cogent, well-balanced argument for the topic in each chapter.  She writes as a woman, to a female audience but the book is not limited to that gender.  She is a feminist in the truest since, she desires that all would live life to its fullest and that cannot happen when one group seeks to oppress, discounts or denies the rights of another.  It has become progressively distressing for me to witness an increase in the marginalization of women in many of the Revivalist Tradition Churches.  Having read this book, I realized a (very modernist) reason for the Apostle Paul’s instruction for women “allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men . . .” (I Timothy 2:12, a verse that is a major weapon used against women in the church); the reason men resist women teaching is they are largely afraid of the power women (can) possess and are frightened by the Truth they can speak.  
    The book ends with the author noting some of the things she learned in her year of biblical living.  She was changed, largely because she lived intentionally, pushed the limits of her comfort, dared to do something scary and approached the whole year with a sense of humor.  She finds the change was not so much physical (although she did gain eleven pounds) as it was a matter of depth.  Having read this book, I feel I have been offered the opportunity to join her in being likewise stretched. 

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2012

    Though I am an avid reader of Rachel Held Evans¿ blog and apprec

    Though I am an avid reader of Rachel Held Evans’ blog and appreciate her perspective on gender issues, I must confess that I had given up the ‘fight’ as regards the equality and dignity of women, in home and in the church, and, for that matter, in the public sphere. Reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood has re-ignited a passion for women’s full flourishing.
    As a college student, I fiercely defended both egalitarian marriage and women's ordination. It seemed unfathomable to me that women could be relegated to submission and silence in view of what Jesus has done to empower us by the Holy Spirit. This view wasn't entirely influenced by my pneumatology, which I am grateful to the Nazarene Church I attended in middle and high school for imbuing me with. It was also profoundly rooted in my social situatedness. I grew up in Northern California, certainly not a bastion of conservatism of any kind. I attended a church with a heavy emphasis on the work of the Spirit and with a history of ordaining women. I confess my view of women and their flourishing is also rooted in anger and ambiguity related to growing up in a largely single mother home. My father was - and is - not abusive, at least in the physical sense of the word. In any case, his less than stellar respect for and verbal treatment of my mother was in no wise motivated by his understanding of male headship, since he opposed religion and did not situate himself within the Christian tradition. My mother did an excellent job of raising my sister and I with very limited financial resources, a lack of social capital, and a disjuncture in academic training and past job experience. Indeed, a woman of valor! I don't believe I was ever explicitly anti-male; rather, the environment in which I lived was filled with strong examples of strong women, which I celebrated, and so emphasized. I grew up in my formative teenage years without a father or male role model and without, ever, a brother.
    As a result of these things, and perhaps, with a sense of my calling toward the Church and/or the Academy, I understandably defended women's full participation in whatever spheres of life they find their vocation in. I was perhaps, at first, rather unsympathetic to female friends that wanted to become homemakers and homeschooling moms. I am happy to say that I have softened in this regard and indeed have deep respect for women who honor God in these spheres and find plenty to admire.
    To complicate all of this, my mom became drawn into a conservative Mennonite community while I was in college and taking courses such as "Women in the Bible". I composed a paper on the Biblical context of head coverings in an effort to prove to her how head coverings are culturally contextual, and not, ahem, biblical.
    I was not sure when reading this book, what I would learn as I felt that I had exhausted this subject in previous study and conversation. However, I was pleasantly surprised with scholarship Rachel shared that I had not engaged with previously.
    At the same time, she treats her subject matter and the people she interviews with profound respect and care. As someone who has lived in or near PA Dutch country, I especially enjoyed Rachel’s foray into the Amish world. I am always nervous when people come from outside, without a basic understanding of and care for the Amish community. I thought Rachel treated her Amish dialogue partners with much humanity and fairness, and it actually enriched my understanding of Amish views of ‘plainness’ and ‘honesty’.
    This book also moved me profoundly. As Rachel recounts the ceremony she held for the ‘forgotten’ women of the Old Testament, I was struck by how many women are not ‘remembered’ either in and out of their suffering and in fact consigned to oblivion. Surely this was not our loving Creator’s intent, when He made male and female in His image and died to redeem what had been marred in the fall.
    Held Evans’ chapter on the Proverbs 31, was, in a word, ‘liberating’. That eshet chayil is meant to be an unconditional blessing, and is routinely sung in Orthodox Jewish homes on the Sabbath from husband to wife, is a wonderful testament to the ‘warrior’ like nature of women and the diversity of literary expression in the Old Testament.
    All this to say, I am grateful for what Rachel has contributed to the conversation on gender in the Church in her newest book. Her scholarship, humor, and grace are all evident in A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and I thus heartily recommend it.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Funny and insightful.

    Great read! I was both entertained and enlightened. Rachel Held Evans is funny and her writing kept me engaged the entire time. Her investigation of the Bible and how other faiths interpert it's teaching was really interesting. Loved it! I've already started following her blog.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2013

    I did enjoy this book. It was educational. It made me think.

    I did enjoy this book. It was educational. It made me think. I must wonder how the writing may have changed if she waited several years to write it, though. I got a little tired of her tantrums on the kitchen floor and listening to her go on about how awful her hair looked. Otherwise I really liked it.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Highly recommended

    At first I was a bit wary--was this going to be another treatise on the role of women by someone who had found true freedom by calling her husband "Lord," or worse, a long rant about how absurd to suppose the Bible has anything to say about today's women.

    It is neither.

    One tiny quibble on my part is that she spoke positively of The Red Tent, a book I consider man-hating heresy. (It's probably obvious that I'm not wishy-washy in my opinions)

    Other than that, I have highly recommended the book to women I know.

    6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    Must read this book - Highly recommend

    This was a funny, as well as educating book! Rachel Held Evans really put you inside her world and helped me understand the bible and the world we live in now. Almost makes me want to live a year of biblical womanhood......almost. :) Loved this book and would recommend all women read it!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 16, 2012

    I'm a huge fan of Rachel Held Evans and this book does not disap

    I'm a huge fan of Rachel Held Evans and this book does not disappoint. Well-written and humorous, she takes tough passages in the Bible, related to women, and explores what modern life might look like if we lived those passages literally. I know there's been a lot of hoopla about how she misconstrues the Bible, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. She has done solid research and simply lays out a different way to view Biblical passages.

    This book would be a fantastic small group study for so many different reasons. You could decide to talk about the things she experienced, you could reflect on the Bible passages she includes, or - perhaps my favorite part of the book - you could look simply at the stories of overlooked women in the Bible included before each chapter.

    Whether or not you agree with what she has to say, this book DOES make you want to dive into your Bible and really look at what it says about being a woman. There aren't enough books out there that do that. That alone makes this book worth buying and reading.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2013

    Knowledgable and interesting viewpoint

    This isn't my usual book type, but as a woman in the military (male dominated), this intrigued me. I was drawn in with her great sense of humor and I read the book quickly. She is very knowledgable about the Bible, and also about current stereotypes and misrepresentations. I encourage every woman to read this - there will be something in it for everyone, including some good laughs!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Great piece

    This book was a great piece of modern women's lifestyle literature with special emphasis on the spiritual. I think that any woman could and should read this, because it does call you to challenge ideas.

    While this was probably not the intention of the book, I think there was an excellent story with her continued and evolving relationship with her husband. I think it is beautiful that he supported her thick and thin, through strange trials, and still be his own person. It seems so rare that each individual uplifts one another - even in circumstances that are uneven (like her calling her husband "Master" or asking his permission to do things). That difference - and the fact that no person takes advantage of the disparity, transcends this book into making one evaluate relationships - not just the relationship with a spiritual element.

    Small criticism - I think the conclusion was a little rushed, and maybe that feeling stem's from Rachel's desire to end the experiement. Overall - charming book for rainy mornings.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2014

    highly recommended

    very interesting to read. I read it like a novel. Rachel had a serious year, but there were many moments of humor from the writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Refreshingly honest

    I'd read a few posts on her blog so I was familiar with Rachel's perspective and style. I'm so glad I read the book and feel like it would be a great small group Bible study option.

    I learned lots of cultural context for the Bible, more than I wanted to about brand name chocolate, and a great appreciation for life as a woman in 2014 versus sometime BC.

    Very funny, insightful and honest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013

    Amazing

    Evans is a phenomenal writer with insight like no other woman around. She gives a perspective that is so refreshing from what the church tells us we should be. I laughed and cried and read it twice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Should you read this? Yes!

    If you are a Christian woman between ages 18 and 35, this is the book for you! Rachel makes so much sense, and her style of writing is a pleasure to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2013

    Thoughful and Thought-provoking

    This book delves into why the Bible says what it does and what that means. It goes way beyond a pick-and-choose interpretation of the Bible. Using humor, historic context, and unexpected sources, the author casts a wide net to discover what Biblical womanhood means. Her conclusions offer a refreshing and reaffirming look at what it means to be a Christian today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Great book!

    Very funny and spiritual! It inspired me to become closer to God as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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