5 Reasons You Should Read My Book Before Forming an Opinion About It

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Note: Some of the links in the post are broken; we're working on it! Thanks for your patience.

Borrow it from a library or a friend if you must, but please read my book before you publicly praise or condemn it. Here are five reasons you should: 

1. Because it’s embarrassing to have to tell your friends you haven’t actually read the book in question after you’ve just engaged in an eighteen-minute diatribe about it at a dinner party. I know because I’ve tried this once or twice before and, take it from me, there’s no cool way to pull yourself out of that hole. (Your best bet: Pointing out the window and shouting, “Look! A binder full of women!” The conversation will then proceed to politics and no one will remember what you said.) 

2. Because I guarantee you will laugh out loud at least once while reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood. And I think we could all use a good laugh right now. 

3. Because the book is much more than the playful, humorous experiments in which I take “biblical womanhood” to its literal extreme—praising my husband at the city gate, growing out my hair, sitting on my roof, covering my head, etc.—activities that are clearly meant to be hyperbolic and provocative. The book is packed with research, stories, examinations of Hebrew and Greek, interviews, analysis, and perspectives from a variety of biblical interpreters as well as everyday women practicing “biblical womanhood” in different ways (an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, a pastor, a polygamist family, a Quiverfull daughter, etc.) . My goal is to make readers first laugh, and then think, about the ways in which we invoke the phrase “biblical womanhood,” because I believe both the Bible and womanhood are more complex than a list of rules and acceptable roles. Any inconsistency in my hermeneutic is intentional and acknowledged, meant to point to the inconsistency of a patriarchal hermeneutic. (See some of my past posts on the subject to learn more, especially "Better Conversations About Biblical Womanhood Part 1 and Part 2" and  "Complementarians are selective too.")

4. Because you will notice that most of the negative reviews have come  from outspoken complementarians/patriarchalists. If there is a divide then, it is not between those who value the Bible and those who do not, but between those who believe the phrase “biblical womanhood” belongs exclusively to a complementarian view of gender and those who think there’s more to it than that. I’ve been encouraged to receive positive reviews from biblical scholars like Ben Witherington, Peter Enns, Roger Olson, Daniel Kirk, and Brian LePort, as well as from conservative evangelical women who weren’t necessarily expecting to like the book or who may differ from me regarding some gender issues.  (See Amazon for additional reviews. I’ll share more on Twitter and Facebook.) Those who simply accuse me of not taking the Bible seriously are dodging the main argument of the book by refusing to engage its message and focusing instead on its format.   But by all means, read and engage reviews - both positive and negative - from folks who have actually read and interacted with the book. It is meant to be a conversation-starter; I'm open to a variety of informed viewpoints and criticisms!  

5. Because the sentence “I didn’t tell them they were my servant girls” really does need some context. 

A Year of Biblical Womanhood officially releases today, which means you can find it at just about any bookstore as well as online. And like I said, if you don’t want to buy it yourself, you can always check it out at a library or borrow from a friend. Just do me a favor and read it before you make me your hero or your villain, because neither a halo nor a Hitler mustache particularly suits me. I’m just another sinner, saved by the grace of Jesus. 

Note: I’ll write more about our adventure in NYC later this week. Looks like we will be here longer than expected. Prayers for those still stranded, out of power, or struggling to make sense of all the loss and thwarted plans that have resulted from this storm. May we hear God’s whisper above the wind. 

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