I’m going to wrap up my review of Rachel Held Evan’s book A Year of Biblical Womanhood with some of the quotes that made me think. Quite a few of these quotes open up whole cans of worms that I may explore in future blog posts but I can’t get all my thoughts straight just yet.
Evans doesn’t shy away from dealing with some of the more difficult stories and passages dealing with women in Bible. At one point in the book, she and a friend hold a simple ceremony to commemorate some of the women victims of violence we read about in the Bible (the concubine for Judges 19, Hagar, Tamar in David’s household etc). She writes,
“Kristine and I talked for a while after the ceremony was over – about our doubts, about our fears, and about how sometimes taking the Bible seriously means confronting the parts we don’t like or understand and sitting with them for a while . . . perhaps even a lifetime.”
These are ugly, horrific stories and I appreciated Evans pointing out that they’re allowed to be just that. Sometimes I think we gloss over these narratives because we’re so uncomfortable with them being there, as if we need our Bibles sanitized and white-washed. Our discomfort should prompt us to wrestle with these stories rather than ignore them – even if we never do feel like we understand them.
Ahava, Evan’s Jewish friend explains the word “help-meet” to her as the Jews define it:
“For the record, in Bereshit (Genesis by you) where it talks about the ‘helpmeet,’ the Hebrew is not just Ezer, but Ezer k’gnedo, which means ‘the help that opposes.’ The Rabbis explain this term like two posts of equal weight leaned against one another. They stand because of equal force.”
Evans looks at the various passages that warn women about dressing modestly and notes that, “it seems that most of the Bible’s instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism, not sexuality.”
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The project may seem gimmicky and silly, but she learns valuable lessons about herself, about womanhood, about God and the Bible. She was respectful of all the people she interviewed and I appreciated her take on the New Testament passages that deal with submission and silence – subjects that seem to be so touchy in the North American Evangelical world – as you can tell if you start reading more reviews of this book!
If you’ve read it as well – what were some of the quotes that made you pause and think?