A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Written by: Rachel Held Evans
Published By: Thomas Nelson
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
A year or two ago, a friend sent me a book called The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, an interesting experiment in which the author attempted to live both the Old and New Testament as literally as possible. My friend recently sent me a new book experimenting with the Bible called A Year of Biblical Womanhood, in which the author, Rachel Held Evans, has decided to try to live by the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments as they pertain to women. What an appropriate book to read at this particular time in history!
When one listens to various persons interpreting the Bible and its teachings about women, two things happen: if you are a woman, you often find yourself cringing. Let’s face it, some folks’ interpretations of the Bible would set women back quite a bit. If you are a man, you might be nodding your head and agreeing, hoping that your woman would behave like the interpreted versions. An Evangelical, Rachel Held Evans decided to discover what was really meant by what was written in both testaments about women.
She began by not cutting her hair, cultivating a quieter spirit, quitting gossiping, etc. The funnier moments come in when she decides it is important to repent of her sins on the rooftop of her house as is spoken of in Matthew: “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” There were episodes in which her cooking experiments, aiming to please her husband with food, turned into sobbing, fetal-position-induced disasters. There were times when calling her husband “master” drove even her husband crazy. Her attempts to be the perfect woman supposedly spoken of in Proverbs 31 were a trial to be endured with humor.
But there were also some enlightening moments during her year long journey. Delving into research and learning from women who follow the Bible closely in accordance with their own very different religions, Rachel Held Evans has learned that many of the interpretations out there are used to serve one particular group’s needs rather than an accurate interpretation of what was meant by the written passage. She learned that women were often revered in the Bible and that at least one was actually an apostle (though after a certain age, the written text was interpreted differently to make the female a male – see what I mean about interpretations).
While we had quite a few funny moments to read about, there were just as many teachable moments here as well as we learned about very inspirational women in the Bible and their roles in shaping who we are as people. Though some of the passages are written in a way that would suggest that a woman should be subservient to a man, there are just as many ways that you could interpret these passages to mean that woman was meant to be man’s partner in life, aiding him in his efforts to be closer to God. These are women of valor. Rachel Held Evans reminds us of each one and celebrates the women she meets on her journey to discover what biblical womanhood is all about.
As I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I found myself really liking this author. We are not of the same religion, but we seem to have a very similar take on what the Bible is about and how other people’s interpretations can shape the Bible into what they want it to be. Rachel Held Evans is a very down to earth woman and it was refreshing to see her spend time understanding what it might have been like centuries ago for other woman and what it is like for women of orthodox religions now. I loved that she was able to find positivity in a book in which others find such negativity towards women. She was able to find hypocrisy in the ways some of its passages are interpreted by others to get what they want, while other segments of the Bible are ignored by these same people because they chose to not follow those sections. I loved that she shared some very personal moments of enlightenment and those personal moments of despair.
I found that we felt the same in regards to the Bible’s intentions and the positive and empowering things women can take from its passages. I felt a kinship with this woman and felt I was traveling the journey with her…though I wouldn’t camp out on the front lawn to ensure that I didn’t spread my impurity through the time of menstruation (her husband’s reaction to all of this is hilarious, by the way). The book was written extremely well and kept me thoroughly intrigued throughout. And perhaps because of this, it was an incredibly fast read.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood was an educational as well as entertaining read and I am very thankful to my friend for having sent it to me. I’ve been verbally recommending it to everyone I talk to and am ecstatic to recommend it to my readers here at G-POP.net. This is a book every woman should read…perhaps out loud to every man they know!