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I suppose one does not have to know me for very long to know the things I care about deeply. Community. Adoption. Oh, and gender.

I spend a lot of time thinking and studying about what people and the Bible says about gender roles because in my heart of hearts I believe most what Paul says in Galatians – “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ.” (emphasis mine) So, when I stumbled upon Rachel Held Evan‘s book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood – I was ready for a little hope and a little more digging into this idea. 

If you’ve ever read Rachel’s blog, then you know that she is thoughtful and well research (two of my favorite characteristics in a person), so I knew that this dense little book would be more than an exercise in gimmicks to sell books. What I did not expect was to find a book that was as freeing as it was. Rachel’s honesty and research continually point back to the Bible, but does so in a respectful way. I would feel comfortable suggesting this to some of my more complimentarian friends because – although she disagrees with some of their tenets, she does so in a way that does not alienate and I think the very way she tries to live out some of those tenets invites a conversation that I think it important to keep having.

But, my favorite part? The part that had me crying and praying hallelujah? That would be reclaiming the Proverbs 31 woman. Rachel befriends an Orthodox Jewish woman, Ahava (wife of a Rabbi), and when she gets to her month on Proverbs 31, she turns to Ahava for advice – as Proverbs 31 has become an exhausting to do list for Rachel and many other Christian women. Ahava’s response is liberating. That idea of a valorous wife (eshet chayil) is a blessing. In Jewish cultures it is the men – not the women – who memorized Proverbs 31, so they can sing it as a blessing to the woman. How beautiful!

So, basically, buy this book. It will make you think. You will add no less than 12 books to your Amazon wishlist as you go through the footnotes. And you will become a fan of the thoughtful, bright, hungry voice of Rachel Held Evans.

 

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