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A Year of Biblical Womanhood

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  15,392 ratings  ·  1,585 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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Elyse Well very different because one is a man's experience and one is a woman's experience. If you've read the Bible or know anything about it, you know th…moreWell very different because one is a man's experience and one is a woman's experience. If you've read the Bible or know anything about it, you know that it's pretty different for men vs. women.(less)

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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!

Apr 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rachel Held Evans describes herself in this book as “curious, skeptical, and strong-willed.”

Well, what a coincidence. . . those are almost exactly the same words I'd use to describe myself (I might replace “skeptical” with “sassy.”)

So, we have that in common, but what is different is our backgrounds. While she was being raised in a Southern, evangelical Christian environment, I was being raised in a multi-cultural community in a non-religious household. I had a father who favored lively debates
Minyoung Lee
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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:
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jenn LeBow
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
JR. Forasteros
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Who would’ve thought that the next book to blow up the Christian publishing industry would be Rachel Held Evans’ attempt to live for a year following all the Bible’s rules for women? But gender is the most divisive issue in the Evangelical church these days, with some questioning whether a person can even truly be Christian if they don’t hold to traditionalist/complementarian gender roles!

As a woman who’s grown up in the Evangelical Church, Rachel was captivated by A. J. Jacob’s Year of Living B
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it

Christian women's ethics are a hot topic no matter what your background is.
And this book was written by a Christian claiming to be a fresh thinker bringing some much-needed Endust and a rag to some dusty topics. But truth be told, give me Gloria Steinem any day over Rachel Held-Evans.
I'm no feminist. But frankly, neither is RHE.
Rachel Held-Evans' "godly" woman is as lame as they come. She ignores the entire catalog of crazy God-fearing women and only defines herself by some random verses from
Sep 05, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
RHE died on May 4, 2019.

Kathy Keller to RHE: "Throughout your book, you have ignored or even hidden from readers the fundamental principles of scriptural interpretation—including the difference between narrative and didactic, as well as the importance of placing commands in their context within redemptive history."

Trillia Newbell: "As I read the book, it became increasingly clear to me of one theme: God’s word was on trial. It was the court of Rachel Held Evans. She was the prosecution, judge, a
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
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
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, but 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 branches of the religion, I did like her book personality.

For the most part I found her views interesting and even at times refreshing when it came to b
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting read! I didn’t agree with all of Evans’ conclusions, but she made me think many times. I especially loved her interactions with Ahava, her time in the monastery, and her trip to Bolivia. Evans is a witty writer. Her turns of phrase are great, & she made me smile often.
I just finished re-reading this book, and this part nearly took my breath away. At the end of the book, Rachel listed several resolutions, things she wanted to do as she went forward after this project. This was number 7:

"Champion women leaders in the Church. Whatever small influence I may have over the Christian community, I will use to advocate on behalf of my talented sisters who long to use their gifts to benefit the Church and the world. I will share my platform with women writers. I will l
Amanda Mae
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
May 05, 2015 rated it liked it
The amount of controversy kicked up by Rachel Held Evans never fails to amaze me. She says stuff I disagree with, stuff I agree with, and a lot of points in between that are just .... ideas. Not brilliant or heretical or life-altering. Occasionally perceptive, deep, and moving.

So it was with this book. After noticing how the mere mention of RHE turns many of my (otherwise nice, kind, normal) male Christian friends into raging assholes who feel the need to stomp all over my Facebook feed, I start
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. All of my friends love this book. It had the potential to discuss everything I hold dear - Christianity, motherhood, feminism and femininity. My favorite part about this book were the vignettes at the end of the chapters on Biblical women (particularly Junia, who I'd never heard of). But, in so many other ways the book fell short.

It bothered me how much of the book seemed to be "crowd-sourced" beginning with how she makes church ladies do her crafty projects and cont
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
As someone who has spent a couple of decades distancing myself from and trying to recover from the damage caused by The Church, I found this book personally healing. Rachel Held Evans' tragic death this week was what initially drew me into it and her story resonated with me very strongly. I admit that I was hit pretty hard about 2/3rds through with the grief of knowing that she wouldn't be there to challenge tired and selective patriarchal interpretations of scripture. I have a fair number of cr ...more
Meredith McCaskey
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
I remember when this book came out. I was still heavily immersed in the Reformed world and in that world a lot of people consider The Gospel Coalition the gatekeeper of Who Is IN (the Kingdom of Heaven, one presumes) and Rachel Held Evans was most definitely OUT. She was Not To Be Read, Not To Be Countenanced by anyone who wanted to be Holy.

I am sad now for myself that I didn't start reading RHE till after her death. It's kind of surreal to read something that caused such furor in the evangelic
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, faith
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
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 pas
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Rachel Held Evans was a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Faith Unraveled (2010), A Year of Biblical Womanhood (2012), and Searching for Sunday (2015). Hailing from Dayton, Tennessee—home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925—she wrote about faith, doubt and life in the Bible Belt.

Rachel was featured in The Washington Post, The Guardian, Christianity Today, Slate, The Huf

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“If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not "what does it say?", but "what am I looking for?" I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, "ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened." If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.” 108 likes
“I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.” 95 likes
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