A Year of Biblical Womanhood
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A Year of Biblical Womanhood

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  4,806 ratings  ·  803 reviews
Strong-willed and independent, Rachel Held Evans couldn't sew a button on a blouse before she embarked on a radical life experiment--a year of biblical womanhood. Intrigued by the traditionalist resurgence that led many of her friends to abandon their careers to assume traditional gender roles in the home, Evans decides to try it for herself, vowing to take all of the Bibl...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published October 2012 by Thomas Nelson
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Crystal Starr Light
Biblical womanhood is a concept that any religious woman inwardly cringes at. It's this ephemeral picture of the ideal woman that seems to change depending on whom you are talking to. From my experience, it usually consists of the following:

+ Proverbs 31 woman (of course)

+ Submitting to your husband

+ Not taking a position of leadership in the church (elders, pastor, etc.)


+ Don't show too much skin! Don't want the boys to slip and fall into the abyss of their lusts!

I wish I could give it 3.5 stars, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. Let me say off the bat that her hermeneutical methods are shaky (how we apply the Old Testament after Christ and through the lens of Peter's vision regarding clean/unclean, etc.) so I am going to choose to stick with my complementarian worldview. For a good explanation of why I have trouble with her background assumptions, see Kathy Keller's review of the book (see blogosphere for that one.) However, the book itself is...more
In response to the “contemporary biblical womanhood movement” - largely organized around the proposition that “the only sphere in which a woman can truly bring glory to God is the home” - feminist and Evangelical Christian Rachel Held Evans set aside a year to explore and write about “biblical womanhood.” I wish she’d taken more time and done it right.

Rather than adopting the practices of any one group of women claiming to live biblically, Held Evans pulled bits and pieces of several faiths - in...more
Where to start with this one? I hereby resolve to finish the year 2013 without having read any more books by stunt-bloggers. Put this one on the pile with "Julie and Julia," "The Happiness Project" parts 1 and 2, "365 Nights," and the rest of this growing genre, and you'll have a pile tall enough for a nice coffee table.

I'll just put this out here: I'm a Unitarian Universalist, so I don't have a theological dog in this fight. Had I been Evangelical Christian, Jewish, Quaker, or Catholic, I would...more
Minyoung Lee
Despite being a Christian myself, whenever someone or a book about someone talks about "living and interpreting the Bible literally", a ginormous red flag comes up. Talking about Biblical womanhood is somehow a million times worst. It seems like most Christians who claim to be fundamentalist and/or come from a traditional/patriarchal culture (the Southern US, Korea, etc.) pretty much hate women or are addicted to this unattainable mirage of the Madonna/whore dichotomy. Women should submit to men...more
There are a lot of people who will love this book.

There are a lot of people who will hate this book.

And there are a lot of people who will never know which crowd they belong in because they are afraid to pick up this book.

The premise is simple: Rachel goes on a year-long quest to find out what true "Biblical Womanhood" really is. You know, to separate the fact from the fiction, and the rumors from the what the Bible really says.

During her year, Rachel took the Bible completely literally. She g...more
I can see why this offends conservative Christian sensibilities. But it is hardly extreme. She sets out to point out that conservative Christians cherry pick verses and interpretations as much as they accuse those of us who have more moderate viewpoints. And she succeeds admirably, all the while, also learning to understand various standards of womanhood with less judgment.

Her chapter on parenting was the most refreshing for me. Most women without children don't have any reason to notice, let al...more
Jenn LeBow
Yes, it's a controversial book. People seem to have lined up to love it or hate it based simply on their opinions of Rachel.

Here's the bottom line: if you can't read one person's story of approaching Scriptures literally, but with a sense of humor intact, avoid this book. Rachel, like many 20- or 30-something people in the U.S., mixes humor in with deeper or more thoughtful insights. That she does this in relation to the Bible and her view of Christianity seems to be objectionable to her critic...more
This is the kind of work that gets produced when exegesis and hermeneutics are thrown out and others' opinions are thrown in. I didn't know we were still living as if the cross had not yet happened in salvation history.

A very good treatment of this work done better than I can do, by Kathy Keller, found at:


Two fantastic reviews from Trillia Newbell at:


2.5/3 Stars

I somewhat liked this book, even though I don't agree with all of Evans thoughts or many of her views on theology... as most of her ideas go against how I view biblical teachings, and the lady has a weird hang-up against Mark Driscol.....I did love her humor, her very relate to you struggles with the Bible and some of the thought provoking ways she made me see culture and how rigid religion can place women in boxes. While I didn't love how she treated scripture, I did like her book pe...more
Terri Lynn
I have a close female friend who was strongly brainwashed into believing in Christian mythology. At some level she knows it is all just old myths and made up by sexist men but when the brainwashing goes on during childhood, there are fears that worm their way in.This is why I think proselytizing to children ought to be a crime punishable by prison time for child abuse. No one should mess with a child's mind in such a manner.

I love this friend like a sister and offer her lovely Atheist books t...more
I will be the first person to admit that if I was not already an avid follower of Evan's blog I never would have picked up this book. Having been wounded by my conservative Christian upbringing, terms such as "Biblical Womanhood" still provoke a visceral negative response despite the fact I do identify myself as a Christian. However, knowing and respecting Evan's blog, I eagerly snatched this book off the library shelf and not so much read it as devoured it.
What I appreciate most about Evans is...more
I was a little skeptical about the gimmick component of this project-- RHE spends an entire year trying to follow the Bible's commands for women as literally as possible-- but pleasantly surprised at the biblical analysis and personal revelations that came from it. The book was both funnier and more poignant than I expected.

The book doesn't break any new theological ground, but presents a wide range of views on women's role in the church in a conversational, easy-to-understand manner. I apprecia...more
Awesome book! I loved everything about it. The author spent a year going through the Bible and trying to live like a Biblical woman should. Through this process she really understands that there isn't just one way to be a Biblical woman. She laughs and cries and learns about her own relationship with God. Loved hearing her experiences with the different people she met through her year.
Perhaps it is due to my inherent distaste for "biblical womanhood", but I struggled with this book considerably.

I will admit that I picked up this book expecting a different story--one that highlighted the impracticality of following every single rule in the Bible, ultimately finding that the rules of living are flawed and no longer literally applicable to modern day life. You know, like keeping slaves from neighboring countries and mixing fabric blends...

It was not that book. Rather, it was an...more
Let me say, this book really grew on me and I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would in the first couple chapters. Evans has a very engaging writing style and her willingness to admit her own failures goes a long way to cover any insults to people who disagree with her. But ultimately, the goal of this book wasn't overcome by the writing. The premise, of course, is that she will follow the Bible's varied commands to women for a year. There are several problems with this, includin...more
Amanda Mae
When I saw this book in a catalog at work, I was more tickled at the idea. I've discovered over the last few years that I am fascinated by religion and religious culture - not just of my own faith, but of many others. I love learning how others interpret scripture, and how traditions are made and kept. I ordered this book for my library, and checked it out as soon as I saw it on the New Releases shelf. I found that the author is a liberal-leaning evangelical Christian, and was then REALLY intrig...more
I love when I expect a book to be one thing, and then it turns out to be something completely--and in this case wonderfully--different. I can tell you I really loved this book. I think it's probably a four star book, but I liked it so much and loved reading it so much (and will miss it) that it earned the extra five.

I consider myself Episcopalian--about as far from Evangelical as you can get. I can honestly feel my spine straighten when anyone talks about "submitting" and "a woman's place." So I...more
I find that I relate to Rachel a lot, as I'm sure many women who picked up this book do. I love my Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, but I struggle with the Bible. Not in a "throw it away, it's oppressing me!" way, but in the way that I frequently come across a chapter or verse that pricks at my soul and honestly confuses me and scares me. Rachel Held Evans has beautifully demonstrated how the Bible continues to morph itself to serve us and allow us to serve our God. Each challen...more
In the Evangelical subculture, the phrase 'Biblical Womanhood' is touted frequently as the answer to feminism. What is typically implied by 'Biblical Womanhood' is that being a wife and mother is a woman's highest calling and that women are not supposed to be in leadership over men, but are meant to follow men's leadership. This takes varied degrees of intensity depending on where in Evangelicalism one finds themselves.

So in 'A Year of Biblical Womanhood', Evans attempts to take the Bible's pass...more
I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I started reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I had only recently begun reading Rachel Held Evan’s blog and hadn’t followed her posts about her Year of Biblical Womanhood project. The blurb on the back of the cover doesn’t begin to do this book justice. Nor do the summaries explain what going along with Rachel on her one-year journey will do to your perspectives on so many woman’s issues.

The author spends a year trying to live out in practical w...more
If I were to believe the content of many Christian books on womanhood when they say that my "highest calling" as a woman is to be an excellent wife and mother, I would essentially be forced to conclude that, at (almost) 27 and unmarried, my life doesn't have any purpose yet. In addition to this, I would also be forced to conclude that I had been categorically wrong for the 20-something years that I have been going around thinking that my highest calling is to follow Jesus and aim to please Him i...more
I read this in a book club with close friends, but I highly recommend this book for every women’s bible study! Evans explores one attribute of traditional biblical womanhood each month: gentleness, domesticity, obedience, valor, beauty, modesty, purity, fertility, submission, justice, silence, and grace. She carefully and respectfully considers the different interpretations of each quality, ranging from Orthodox Jewish to conservative evangelical Christian to Amish to Quaker.

In our book club me...more
I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood with my book club. I was glad to see this book as one of our choices when a friend offered her suggestions for this month's read. I read Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions a few months ago and have been reading Rachel Held Evans' blog since then, so I think I would have gotten around to reading this book even without our book club. I'm thankful we read and discussed this book because I think that's one thi...more
If you don't want to pick up this book because you read Kathy Keller's review, I suggest you read Rachel Held Evans' response before making your final decision: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bibli...

So, that said. Very readable book, lots of variety in what she addresses. She looks at so many items that she doesn't get very in depth about many of them (but I acknowledge my definition of in-depth, having a master's in the subject and all, may not be normal) but what she does cover is generally...more
Amy Hughes
Rachel's accounting of her searching out if there might be such a thing as "biblical womanhood" is honest, clever, touching, and very amusing. It's an extreme (and even ridiculous) project but she approached it with humility and a sense of adventure. I especially enjoyed the chapters on purity and valor as well as her husband's journal entries during the project. Rachel invites us into her experience with such openness that we can go through it vicariously with her. Good thing too because I woul...more
There has been a lot of controversy from the "conservative evangelicals" about this book, but I loved it! It made me laugh and it also made me think.

I love the conversational style of the book and the ways Evans is able to laugh at herself and tackle deep hermeneutical questions about how we interpret the Bible, specifically as it applies to women's roles in the church, in the home, and in life in general.

As others have noted, there may not be new arguments here, but Rachel made the work of scho...more
A fan of RHE's blog, I knew I'd enjoy this long-awaited record of her year of living various scriptural commands/admonitions for women. She did not disappoint. From living in a tent during her monthly cycle to calling her husband 'master', she engages with scripture quite literally--all the while pointing out that we tend to see in scripture what we want to see, and we engage with the verses most convenient. She's not a theologian, nor does she pretend to be--she is a bright, capable, gifted, ar...more
Perhaps the most helpful piece of this book to me was the way in which Held Evans reclaimed the Woman of Valor from Proverbs 31. She had become a bit of a joke to me and some of my friends, a shorthand for the church's unrealistic expectations for women. However by recognizing that we've made this ode I to a checklist, Held Evans allowed me to see the ways in which I honor my family by doing the tasks before me, from laundry, to grading, to driving the minivan all over Beaver County. Eshet chayi...more
Courtney Joshua
This book chronicles RHE's attempt to spend a year taking biblical passages related to women (or extrabiblical, cultural practices – various Jewish traditions and holidays, etc.) as literally as possible.

Her stated purpose was to critique those who believe there is such a thing as “biblical womanhood.” Basically, she concludes that it's prideful and oppressive to assume we know what the Bible is teaching and what God requires of us in such specific ways, and that those who claim to be following...more
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“As a Christian, my highest calling is not motherhood; my highest calling is to follow Christ.” 21 likes
“...faith isn't about having everything figured out ahead of time; faith is about following the quiet voice of God without having everything figured out ahead of time.” 19 likes
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