"A Year of Biblical Womanhood" Genre Cheat Sheet

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Quick links: download in color (pdf) download in black and white (pdf) 

Although A Year of Biblical Womanhood released more than a year ago, a few new reviews have surfaced in recent days from folks who are concerned that “women might be confused” by the fact that my yearlong exploration of biblical womanhood involved following all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible, sometimes taking them to their most literal extreme.

Holding a homemade “Dan is Awesome” sign outside the Welcome to Dayton sign in order to literally praise my husband at the city gate (Proverbs 31:32) “disregards basic principles of interpretation,” they say, and is not how most Christians interpret or apply that passage. 

No kidding.  That was kind of the point. 

They are also concerned that I presented and explored a variety of divergent perspectives on what “biblical womanhood” means (from Jewish, Catholic, Amish, feminist, polygamist, Christian fundamentalist and complementarian viewpoints, to name a few), including some viewpoints with which they do not agree. 

Again, that was kind of the point—to show that “biblical womanhood” is not as straightforward as some would make it seem. 

This gentlemen sums up my frustration well: 

As does this smart lady: 

I’ve responded to these sort of critiques before, and will post an article next week addressing the charge that I misrepresented complementarianism, even though I never even use the word in the book (except one time when I was quoting someone else). 

But in the meantime, Dan put his own frustration to work and created this handy “Year of Biblical Womanhood Genre Cheat Sheet” for those who may be confused by literary genres and do not know the difference between, say, satire and biblical exegesis.  

A Year of Biblical Womanhood Genre Cheat Sheet (PDF)

download in color (pdf) 

download in black and white (pdf) 

 Praising my husband at the city gate with a sign, for example, is hyperbolic satire. Doing a New Testament word study on the Greek word “praus” in order to better understand what Peter means when he instructs women to have a “gentle and quiet spirit” in 1 Peter 3:3-4 is biblical exegesis. Interviews and quotes fall under the nonfiction category, and working my way through Martha Stewart’s Cooking School clearly belongs in the apocalyptic genre. Wearing a head covering…well, that depends on who you ask. 

I had perhaps naively assumed that this would all be rather obvious from the outset. (The Amazon reviews and the response of audiences when I give presentations suggest most readers have not needed clarification; they seem to know when to laugh.) But arguments over whether I really needed to camp out in a tent during my period sure have provided a convenient way to avoid engaging the substance of the book, most of which subjects common assumptions regarding “biblical womanhood” to an examination alongside the actual biblical texts and explores how hermeneutical biases are at work in our interpretation of this concept.  

Unfortunately, it seems the best way to avoid engaging what an author actually says is to passionately disagree with what she didn’t. 

Special thanks to Dan who both conceived of and executed the Year of Biblical Womanhood Genre Cheat Sheet. (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s pretty awesome.) 

See also: Biblical Womanhood and the Illusion of Clarity: A Response to Kathy Keller

And A Year of Biblical Womanhood is just $2.99 on Kindle/Nook this week. 


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