“Go, be free!” concludes Beth Allison Barr in her recently released, best-selling book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women became Gospel Truth. In the intersection of her life in the classroom and the strictures placed on her by her local church, her beliefs about women radically shifted. Eventually, after a difficult conversation with the theologically unbending complementarian elders at her Southern Baptist Church, Barr and her husband, the youth-pastor, were asked to leave. “This book is my story,” she writes, “a white woman whose experiences as a pastor’s wife and scholar have led me to reject evangelical teachings about male headship and female submission. I am fighting against patriarchy for women.” Part medieval history, part personal narrative, and part examination of the condition of women in complementarian circles, Dr. Barr (a history professor at Baylor University) applies a feminist hermeneutic to Scripture and history, purporting to discover a malign patriarchal inclination, if not an actual conspiracy by complementarians to write women out of the Bible, out of the church, and back into their homes to their highest calling by God as wives and mothers. This a conversation with Journal contributing writer Anne Kenney about our in-depth critical review of The Making of Biblical Womanhood.
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