Beth Allison Barr
The Making of Biblical Womanhood (Brazos Press, 2021)
Beth Allison Barr is Professor of History and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at Baylor University, where she specializes in medieval history, women's history, and church history. She is the president of the Conference on Faith and History and is a member of Christians for Biblical Equality. Barr has written for Christianity Today, the Washington Post, and Religion News Service, and is a regular contributor to The Anxious Bench, the popular Patheos website on Christian history.
"Throughout this book, Barr talks about how her world was transformed. Readers should be ready to have their worlds transformed too. The Making of Biblical Womanhood is about unmaking the harmful patterns of patriarchy in the church, society, and our own hearts."
--Jemar Tisby, CEO of The Witness Inc.; New York Times bestselling author of The Color of Compromise
"This fervent, bold, and sweeping history of Christianity and patriarchy is an absolute game changer. Any future debates will need to reckon with Barr's contention that the subjugation of women has nothing to do with gospel truth."
--Kristin Kobes Du Mez, professor, Calvin University; author of Jesus and John Wayne
"This book has the power to help Christians build a faith where 'there is neither male nor female,' to liberate women from patriarchal hierarchies, and to heal the pain inflicted by countless churches. I have waited my entire adult life for a book like this."
--Jonathan Merritt, contributing writer for The Atlantic; author of Learning to Speak God from Scratch
"It's time--no, it's way past time--that we take a critical look at how complementarians have been leaving women leaders and teachers out of church history books and expose the movement of 'biblical womanhood' for what it is. Read this book and be challenged and encouraged."
--Aimee Byrd, author of Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and No Little Women
"Barr's careful historical examples drawn especially from medieval history hold together a brilliant, thunderous narrative that untells the complementarian narrative. I could not put this book down."
--Scot McKnight, professor, Northern Seminary
"A powerful work of skillful research and personal insight."--Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
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 arose from 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 readers understand why biblical womanhood is more about human power structures than the message of Christ.