Book Review: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

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Author: Rachel Held Evans

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

http://rachelheldevans.com/biblical-womanhood/

Published: 2012

Book Review

A few days ago, I perused the local library “new” section for any good reads. To my surprise, I saw a book titled “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” and I picked up the bright yellow covered book off the shelf. Hmm, don’t see many books like this these days! The description held my interest, so I checked out the book and took it home to read. If our church women’s bible study group had not already picked Esther to study, I would have definitely recommended this book!

Rachel Held Evans takes a highly controversial topic (roles of women from the perspective of the Bible) and turns it into an enjoyable account of a woman with sufficient biblical study to properly research and act out portions of the Bible relating to roles of women. Her attitude is both humorous and serious in that she works at keeping the book an enjoyable read while sticking to her goal of emulating biblical principles for women. A number of desirable qualities were chosen for study, divided into months of the year and one virtue per month.

One of the sections I liked best was March: Modesty. Deuteronomy 22:5 states, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Rachel discusses issues such as whether Deuteronomy refers to cross-dressing (Hmm, hadn’t thought of that before…) or if it means women shall not wear pants. (Side note, I watched a biblical show that illustrated Bible scenes, and all the men were wearing robes similar to what the women wore, so I’m curious what the difference in dress would have been in those times? What made a man look different than a woman if they both wore long loose dress-like robes? Good research question.)

1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” Much of what Rachel researched revealed more concern with inner appearance than outward appearance. Many women might really be surprised to study the subject, that God really does prefer smart, kind girls!

My two remaining comments after reading the book are this:

  1. I had some confusion between actual Biblical rules for women vs. Jewish laws and laws made by other religions that may not be 100% Biblical (made outside of or in addition to those specifically given by God). I know Rachel was trying to “act” out “biblical” womanhood for the purpose of her book, but a good follow-up might be a book on practical biblical womanhood from the New Testament perspective, sticking to only what the Bible specifically says about roles of women. For example, I was surprised in our church Bible study about the biblical rules regarding marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:1-10, Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The Bible says something different than what people might commonly believe! Or, let’s just say, the rules are not clear cut.
  2. Rachel discusses nicely the issue of some traditional families taking to the extreme (and often, well beyond what the Bible indicates) the “submission” of the wife. Let me just say, read her book and June has the topic of Submission. What do you think?
  3. I have to say, the majority of Rachel’s arguments or observations I could agree with or got me to thinking further on the subject. (Which is why this would make an excellent topical Bible study for women!) In the chapter August: Silence, however, in the section regarding women pastors, I was not able to see her reasoning why women can biblically be pastors. I think in a debate, the side on why women should not be preachers would have a much stronger argument!

In conclusion, I find this book to be worth buying, as it provides a good starting point for women desiring to know better God’s plan for how women should act. I am going to take my questions and study the Bible on my own to research the topics further. Any book that can inspire further study of the Bible is a help and benefit!

Have you read the book? What’s your opinion? 🙂

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