I have quite a few friends who would love to (1) get a handle on the “biblical womanhood” issue, (2) better understand how conservative Christians think liberal/progressive Christians fall short in the way they handle Scripture, and (3) sharpen their own skills at interpreting the Bible.
Unfortunately, those friends find it hard to stay awake long enough to read a lot of what’s written on the subject these days — which runs in a vein I’ll call “scholarly” (my friends would say “deadly dull and impossible to understand”).
I have wonderful news for those friends: Kathy Keller has a review of Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” that will help on all three points.
You can tell from the title which side of (1) Mrs. Evans stands on, and suspect that Mrs. Keller comes down on the other side. From that, you can surmise they also take different approaches on (3). The good news is that you hit the trifecta with Mrs. Keller’s review, which is not only eminently readable but has the bonus of being understandable.
Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition offers the quotes below as an overview of the review, but you’ll want to read the entire article, which can be found here. And Mrs. Evans’ article, 5 reasons you should read my book before forming an opinion about it, ought not be missed, of course.
Mr. Taylor’s quotes from Mrs. Keller’s review:
“you began your project by ignoring (actually, by pretending you did not know about) the most basic rules of hermeneutics and biblical interpretation that have been agreed upon for centuries.”
“To insist that it would be ‘picking and choosing’ to preclude the Levitical code from your practice of biblical womanhood is disingenuous, if not outright deceptive.”
“In making the decision to ignore the tectonic shift that occurred when Jesus came, you have led your readers not into a better understanding of biblical interpretation, but into a worse one.”
“Throughout your book, you have ignored or even hidden from readers the fundamental principles of scriptural interpretation—including the difference between narrative and didactic, as well as the importance of placing commands in their context within redemptive history.”
“So ‘love’ is the reason you will reject some parts of the Bible and embrace others? But where do you get your definition of love if not from the Bible itself? And if you say, ‘Parts of the Bible express love, and other parts express power interests,’ you’ve clearly gotten your standard and definition of love from outside the Bible—specifically, from contemporary sensibilities—and these are your ultimate authority and norm.”
“You have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task.”