Rachel Held Evans Is Going “Biblical”

By Chaplain Mike

Friend of IM Rachel Held Evans has announced the project that she will be undertaking over the course of the coming year, which will result in her next book.

Right now, she’s calling it “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

I will let her introduce it via this video:

The book won’t be published until 2012, but you can follow Rachel’s experiences through the year each Friday on her blog, where she will post weekly updates, photos, reflections and videos.

If she will oblige, you can count on an IM interview during this next year as well.

25 thoughts on “Rachel Held Evans Is Going “Biblical”

  1. I’m not sure I remember where in the Bible it talks about wearing an apron and waking up before dawn to make breakfast.

    I like the idea–gimmick or not–but I hope she doesn’t play to the caricature of the biblical woman. That, I believe, would be really unhelpful.

    Though it’s a great idea in a way, I think we all know how it’s going to turn out. She will come out of the experience having overall positive things to say while tempering her experience with notions of her and our modern sensibilities. I could be wrong, but that seems to be how these things play out.


  2. I think it shows that truth is not the same as literalism, and I expect that’s one of the points Evans will make in her book.

    Mere literalism often obscures the story that scripture presents, which is where the great truths reside.


  3. wow…..dont’ let her see the question about adolescent kids…..that would make her a mom at 12 or 13…. I know she’s from the south (sort of) but…….



  4. When someone sets out to follow the Bible literally, and public opinion thinks it’s a gimmick, that says something about the Bible.

    It’s easy to call the Bible the Word of God, and make irrefutable theological arguments to prove it (based on the Bible, of course).

    But when the rubber hits the road, and someone tries to actually live in accordance with the Word of God, we immediately realize it’s impossible. Suddenly it’s obvious that the “Word of God” is as much a product of ancient Hebrew writers and their view of society as it is of God.

    Suddenly it’s obvious that even those who take the Bible to be the literal inerrant unchanging absolute truth are picking and choosing from it, making interpretations, using their reason whether they realize it or not.


  5. Of COURSE it’s a gimmick, but what are the rules? Are we following the 613 Commandments as laid down by rabbinic tradition? Cherry-picking (or durian-picking) the ones that seem like they would be funny to write about in the book? When Jesus says “Give to all who ask,” is she going to try that?


  6. I looked over her site and there is much to agree with. I too don’t like some of my religious past (more fundamental evangelical).

    I get the feeling she is living more out of a postmodern reaction to her evangelical past than an impulse to chase deeply the things of Jesus.

    The difficulty with that is it does not necessarily land someone any closer to Christianity, but instead a 21st century adaptation to the spirit of the age.

    I hope I am dead wrong and she is scraping aginst my prejudices, but I felt like she was being self-promoting.


  7. I’m right with her in being a lousy evangelical, but this still feels a little gimmicky to me. However, I’m willing to wait and see .

    As a parent of teenagers, I’m also randomly wondering if she has any adolescent children and, if so, will she stone them for being rebellious? After all, what teenager can go a whole year without a little rebellion? šŸ™‚


  8. Her husband might be able to get a new boat if he sells her into slavery. I would like to see his reaction (assuming she is married).

    I immediately thought of Beth Moore Bible Studies and Men’s Fraternities.


  9. Mark, what you are saying is the same as what I was thinking when I said I didn’t find her project “helpful.” We can define ourselves by opinions and define others by stereotypes, but when it comes down to it, being a faithful Christian is very hard and “the Kingdom of God is taken by violence,” that is, violence against our own pride and passions. I see what she is getting at, and I don’t like it. I think it is a mockery of sincere devotion to God. Hopefully I am wrong, but this wreaks of a publicity stunt. We’ll see.


  10. Yeah, I dare say I agree with the overwhelming majority of the stuff she has written. She and I would probably be in agreement on 95 percent of these things but I will confess to being irritated by the whole “I thank thee God, how I am not like these other evangelicals” schtick. I mean, maybe I’m way out of line here but that stuff is easy, it’s just the flip side of your Family Christian Bookstore and Creation Museum BS. It bores the snot out of me. Our dear departed founder, Michael of blessed memory, used to nail it when he would call BS on alot of this evangelical nonsense without ever giving a whiff of condescenion, just grace.
    Again, I’m sorry if this irritates anyone but that whole list of reasons why I make a bad evangelical on Rachael’s blog, yeah that’s easy to do. Living as Christian in the midst of all the bS out there, that’s hard, damned hard.

    Which reminds me, I really miss Michael šŸ˜¦


  11. It’s clever, but I wouldn’t call her approach a gimmick. I’d encourage you to read what she has written on her blog about this. She’s approaching it thoughtfully, and interacting with people from various perspectives who are trying hard to live “biblically.” Though she’s having some fun with it, I think she too is seriously trying to understand how to read and live the Bible as a female follower of Jesus.


  12. I’d encourage you to read her blog, Jodie. Rachel’s project is about starting a conversation, and she is interacting with a whole host of people from various groups who have their own ideas about what it means to be “biblical.”


  13. As a Christian woman, I don’t find this idea helpful. I do find it somewhat mocking though – I hope I’m wrong. I’m going to follow along and see how it pans out. I think that if you are taking on someone else’s religious practices for the sake of writing a book, if you are performing religious rites, but not doing them from your heart, you are in danger of doing something very blasphemous.


  14. I think it follows on the heels of these two books:

    The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A. J. Jacobs (2007)

    The Year of Living like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do, by Edward G. Dobson (2009)

    Gimmick? Probably. *sigh*


  15. Well, she could probably just go visit some ultra-Orthodox families in Israel or New York City. Or maybe the surviving Samaritans in the Middle East. šŸ™‚

    On a related topic – i.e., women and the Bible – I am reading The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own by Cullen Murphy. Most of us here who are interested in womens’ position in the church vis-a-vis men have read a number of books or articles on the subject by Evangelicals, but this book exposes the reader to scholars, both male and female, who are mostly non-Evangelicals, and who did a lot of the heavy lifting in the early days of feminist Biblical interpretation. But this book is by no means dry and scholarly; Murphy knows how to do good journalistic writing, and you’ll enjoy the bits of knowledge, as well as sources of authors and books to further explore, that you’ll pick up while reading it. And he doesn’t just take you on a visit to the halls of academia. One chapter you may be in a university setting, but then he’ll take you straight to the archeological fields in Israel. It’s one of those books that is as fun to read as it is enlightening. Another thing I like is that he not only lets the scholars speak for themselves, but he also presents their critics’ counter-viewpoints. http://www.amazon.com/Word-According-Eve-Cullen-Murphy/dp/0618001921/ Look for it in a used bookstore (which is where I found my copy).


  16. Good luck, Rachel! Just make sure you don’t commit adultery….we don’t want to see you stoned! šŸ˜‰


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