I’ve noted two negative reviews of Rachel Held Evans’ new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, but we would do well to note the appearance of three positive reviews as well. They are written by scholars of the Bible, and each of them generally commends Evans as a reliable guide to the interpretation of Scripture. They even suggest that she has a more sophisticated hermeneutic than her complementarian critics. In their own words:
Ben Witherington – “Rachel Held Evans is not just another woman using the Bible to write about women’s experiences. She actually is quite adept at Biblical interpretation and has done some good reading and research and exegetical spade work when she is dealing with any kinds of Biblical texts, including the so-called ‘texts of terror’. Whether you agree with her interpretations or not, they are always possible, and often plausible and fair and deserve respect and close scrutiny.”
Peter Enns – “Evans is not mocking the Bible, but exposing the illegitimacy and randomness of a literalist reading of the Bible; the book is an exercise in biblical hermeneutics.”
Roger Olson – “Evans uses a lot of Scripture to show that anyone who tries to take it all literally will simply fail. She says ‘The Bible isn’t an answer book. It isn’t a self-help manual. It isn’t a flat, perspicuous list of rules and regulations that we can interpret objectively and apply unilaterally to our lives.’ (p. 293) “
It will come as no surprise to most of you that my reading of Evans’ book is not leading me to the same conclusion that these three have reached. In fact, the book’s most glaring weakness is its treatment of scripture. More on that later. In the meantime if you want to read some reviews by biblical scholars who appreciate and affirm Evans’ approach to the Bible, read the three linked above.