Rachel Held Evans – A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a couple of years, but when the author sadly died earlier this year, it moved up my to-be-read list after I heard so much about the author and the books she’d written.

The premise really intrigued me, trying out different aspects of biblical womanhood each month in an attempt to try and be the ‘perfect’ woman. You may have heard of things like the ‘proverbs 31 woman’, and this book is kind of like that tested to the extreme.

“Those who seek to glorify biblical womanhood have forgotten the dark stories. They have forgotten that the concubine of Bethlehem, the raped princess of David’s house, the daughter of Jephthah, and the countless unnamed women who lived and died between the lines of Scripture exploited, neglected, ravaged and crushed at the hand of patriarchy are as much a part of our shared narrative as Deborah, Esther, Rebekah and Ruth.”

As you can see, biblical womanhood is not all great, and it’s not just about being the ‘ideal wife’. It was also horrible and brutal and a lot of women were severely oppressed. Throughout the book, Evans tells these stories too, stories that we should remember so we can not repeat them.

We need to share those stories, and our own stories, so that the next generation can have it slightly easier than us, and so on and so on.

“I see myself as a woman who is traveling through a thick jungle with a machete. I can see where other women have forged a path for me, but there are still a lot of vines in the way. My goal is to cut down some of those vines, so that the next generation will have a clearer path.”

As I mentioned, each month the author tries a new dimension of biblical womanhood, from seemingly small things like covering her head and making her own clothes, to bigger things like camping outside while she was on her period. The book was full of laughter and fun, but also hard times and stresses.

She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and that really comes across in what is written, the author is able to laugh at herself and honestly talk about her failures as well as her successes.

From reading the book, it’s clear that the usual definitions of ‘biblical womanhood’ are outdated and not remotely sensible to live by, but it also shows that what the new modern take on being a ‘traditional’ woman is doing to female independence. Being a ‘biblical’ woman does not mean bowing down to every whim of your husband, and it surely doesn’t mean that you can’t preach in church, it means being a member of Christ’s family.

“When we turn the word Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word (like manhood, womanhood, politics, economics, marriage, and even equality), we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t fit our tastes. In an attempt to simplify, we try to force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone, to turn a complicated and at times troubling holy text into a list of bullet points.”

I definitely won’t be trying the things that the author tried over her year long experiment, but it was fascinating to read, and written with warmth and humour. I loved it.

My rating: 5/5Average rating: 3.99
352 pages. Published in: 2012
Read in Paperbackon 18th August – 7th September 2019

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