Why did I love this book?
Beth Allison Barr is both a medieval historian and a Southern Baptist preacher’s wife. Her mission with this book is to rock the foundation of the Southern Baptist Church’s dedication to complementarianism – the theological view that men and women have different but complementary roles within church and society. In theory, those roles are equal; in reality, women are relegated to a position as helpmate to their husbands and barred from teaching even children about the basics of their faith.
The SB Church argues that all of this is grounded in the Bible – but as a historian of medieval Christianity, Barr knows this is not the case. Using her training as a historian, Barr debunks this mythology, highlighting how women shaped early Christianity through their roles as mystics and theologians up until the Protestant Reformation, which wrought irreparable damage on women’s position in Christianity, enshrining their role as wife and mother. Most damning, Barr reveals how the strategic translation of scripture, in particular the rendering of gender-neutral language as masculine, has been manipulated to limit women’s role in Christian society.