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Publisher's Summary

Biblical womanhood - the belief that God designed women to be submissive wives, virtuous mothers, and joyful homemakers - pervades North-American Christianity. From choices about careers to roles in local churches to relationship dynamics, this belief shapes the everyday lives of evangelical women. Yet biblical womanhood isn't biblical, says Baylor University historian Beth Allison Barr. It was born in a series of clearly definable historical moments. 

This book moves the conversation about biblical womanhood beyond Greek grammar and into the realm of church history - ancient, medieval, and modern - to show that this belief is not divinely ordained but a product of human civilization that continues to creep into the church. Barr's historical insights provide context for contemporary teachings about women's roles in the church and help move the conversation forward. 

Interweaving her story as a Baptist pastor's wife, Barr sheds light on the #ChurchToo movement and abuse scandals in Southern Baptist circles and the broader evangelical world, helping listeners understand why biblical womanhood is more about human power structures than the message of Christ.

©2021 Beth Allison Barr (P)2021 eChristian

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So poignant for such a time as this!

This book plainly shows the need for teaching church history not only to seminarians but to the laity. Having grown up steeped in evangelical and complementarian culture, this book put to words and provided expalnations for every thought and question I had ever raised about my discomfort with complementarian teaching. it brought mw to tears. i am so so grateful to Beth Allison Barr for writing this book. This woman thanks you!

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Biblical womanhood is Christian patriarchy.

A powerful and fascinating historical look at women throughout church history. I am grateful for the research, the great storytelling, the restoration of some wonderful female witnesses of faith, and the clear call for something better moving forward. May we all go and be free.

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Wow

This book summarizes so much of what I had begun to pick up in my own journey of exiting complementarianism. Dr. Barr added so many insights and connections that I had never made myself. The narrator does an excellent job of reading this book. It has been powerfully affirming, cathartic and healing to listen to this audiobook.

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I wish I had this book when I was growing up

Absolutely loved it! The author made clear points and was incredibly informative. She pulled from history and reframed current beliefs simply by providing historical context. This book made me examine so much of what goes on around me and my own beliefs. I was constantly learning while listening to this. Every chapter had me on the edge of seat in amazement that these historical facts were new information to me. Definitely worth listening to!

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must read

Finished it in a day. I believe everyone should read this book. It will make you think.

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  • busymom
  • 2021-04-22

Fantastic thought provoking book

I’m so thankful to have read this book. So many passages written by Paul have troubled me, treatment of women in the church. This book helps me to see that I CAN fully accept the gospel and yet reject man made “biblical womanhood” which has been created by men and yet declared gospel truth.

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  • Catherine Barton
  • 2021-08-19

A Must Read for Every Christian

This is not merely a woman’s book written by a woman to women. This is an invaluable book for our current era as the Christian church in America. Barr as a historian and biblical scholar brings to bear her courage and knowledge acquired throughout both her personal and academic experiences to illuminate both scripture but also a sadly neglected past that few ever hear of and even fewer give real consideration. History, as we know, is written by the victors so it comes as no surprise that notable Christian women of centuries gone by have been given been little more than token acknowledgements and the rest forgotten almost entirely in our current Christian culture. When the reality of their lives and the cultural context are presented one cannot help but ask more questions as curiosity builds and the work of God is writ large through their lives. What a life-in-Christ affirming revelation!
Will we answer to the call of Christ, our creator, and our comforter, or will we naïvely or actively continue to conform our lives around a Christian cultural construct that tells us to leave our gifts on the table and to go bury them in the field? Or worse, will we continue to perpetuate the idea that the gifts don’t even exist?
Christ calls each of us out of bondage into his perfect light as we are equally valued in His kingdom. We are called as brothers and sisters to submit to one another and be known by our love for each other. As children of God no man made power hierarchy should stand between us and our high priest and yet in the absence of priests post reformation the original curse unrelentingly also reformed too under the guise of we contemporarily label biblical man and womanhood. What we’ve been taught as church history is a feckless attempt at stringing together half truths, blatant omissions of huge import, and flat out lies. The victors who are actively rewriting history when they open their mouths by intentionally omitting women of God and historical facts are losing their power over us when we learn the truth. You shall know the truth and it will set you free! Go and be free!

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  • Leigh-Ann Fenwick
  • 2021-04-21

This book is AMAZING!

I was raised as a strict complementarian, but after studying Scripture for myself, I became an egalitarian. It was so amazing to hear the same thoughts that I have had, given my very limited historical knowledge of the church, and humanity in general, echoed by someone so highly educated in this field. This is the best book that I have read, in any category, to date!

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  • Jessica
  • 2021-06-08

Good but Incomplete

The book was an interesting read. I thought she made several important points about the historical context of women serving God, but I found her support for egalitarianism thin in textual support from the Bible. I feel like she needed an additional chapter to address it more fully .

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  • Joshua Idachaba
  • 2021-05-16

The Making of Biblical Womanhood-Review

In “The Making of Biblical Womanhood”, Beth Allison Barr, by weaving personal experience and historical evidence, defines the current state of Biblical Womanhood as being a product of extensive patriarchal cultural influence as much as, if not more than, interpretation of Scripture.

Overall, Barr provides depth and breadth to evidence provided to support this definition, from the descriptions of early Christian women in Pauline texts, such as Junia and Phoebe, to more current accounts, such as those of Kate Bowler and Kristin Kobes Du Mez. From these, I could clearly see that Biblical Womanhood has been shaped by a complex set of influences stemming from sources even predating the early Christian church.

Barr’s personal journey from childhood to present, with all the trials and revelations that she and her family experienced regarding the evangelical church, brought a more personal tone to the book while also affirming her credibility on the subject of Biblical Womanhood.

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  • renaruth
  • 2021-09-17

I want to buy the hard copy so I can underline!

the content was compelling, and now I want to learn more. the reader was very good.

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  • Adam Shields
  • 2021-08-05

Historical look at Biblical womanhood

Right off from the start, I was not planning on picking up The Making of Biblical Womanhood. I am an egalitarian concerning women in Church leadership. I am for full ordination and full participation of women in the church in all areas. I do not need to be convinced that the modern emphasis on gender roles is modern or problematic. I have read fairly widely in this area and don't need to be convinced.

But there was a sale at audible and I needed to buy one more book, so I picked up the audiobook. I was frankly surprised by how much new information I learned. I think where The Making of Biblical Womanhood is the best is when Barr is pointing out the history of women serving in roles that today some consider inappropriate for women. By pointing out how there has been a constriction of role, or in the sections on the bible and theology, how earlier generations understood the bible or theology differently, Barr is rightly making the cases that while women have not previously been equally able to teach or preach or lead, the fact that some have means that it is not a universal proscription from various roles.

At the end of the book, I think it is unsurprising that many critiques are of what the book did not do. Barr is not primarily a biblical scholar and she does not primarily make the case for women in ministry from that background. There are plenty of other books that do that. It is a bit of a catch-22 situation. Many that are opposed to women in ministry cite the history of Christianity and a flat reading of a couple of passages as all that is necessary to make the case. To counter that case, there needs to be a much more nuanced reading of the scripture (which isn't the main focus here) and a retelling of the history of Christianity to show that there has been a history of women playing a larger role in the public ministry of Christianity. Barr focuses on the latter and the critiques are often that she does not do the former. But the former has many other examples and when those authors point out alternative readings of scripture, they are met with charges that, "well that is not how the church has historically read those passages and women have never served in that way."

I have been a bit surprised at some of the responses to the book that make it clear that many do not know the history of the ESV and many have not previously been introduced to some of the problems of translation theory. If you are new to discussions of biblical translations, and how no translation really holds completely to its guiding principles, I highly recommend One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? by Dave Brunn. I also think that hearing others telling how they were convinced to change their theology around women in ministry is helpful and so How I Changed My Mind About Women in Ministry is a helpful book.

I am fully convinced that history is an essential part of how we need to understand biblical theology. Because many Evangelicals do not have a good grounding in church history, we do not understand how history and culture impact our reading. Reading the Making of Biblical Womanhood in conversation with Jesus and John Wayne is a good idea as many have suggested. But a suggestion I do not think I have heard is to read it in conversation with Mark Noll's The Civil War as Theological Crisis and Vince Bantu's A Multitude of All People: Engaging Ancient Christianity's Global Identity. Those two books take very different tacts, but Noll's looks at the various ways that the social issue of slavery was impacted by the way that people read their bibles and the way that their biblical reading and theology were impacted by the social situation. And Bantu's book points out how Christianity has been whitewashed in a very similar way to how Barr is pointing out that women have been written out of Evangelical Christian history. The combination of these things paints a fuller picture of the ways in which our Christianity needs to be made more complicated.

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  • Tia Sylvain
  • 2021-05-21

Ground breaking

Must read! She cut it up! I literally will never accept complementation theology again. Women are free in Christ

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-04-28

A fresh perspective

Incredibly insightful history that we normally do not see presented by Church historians in this day and age. Many of my Evangelical friends would benefit from reading this book and opening up their minds to the call and the giftedness of women that minister in the name of Jesus in the body of Christ.

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  • tammy
  • 2021-04-23

Needed for our time

Excellent explanation of the change in the SBC, evangelical community of why and how the cult of domesticity infiltrated our church. Good presentation, engaging narration.

3 people found this helpful