• Baylor history prof’s new book, “The Making of Biblical Womanhood,” cracks Amazon’s top 50

    Cover of "The Making of Biblical Womanhood" and photo of Dr. Beth Allison Barr

    Readers browsing Amazon for new books in mid-April found a Baylor professor’s new release among the overall top 50 on the site — a week before it was even officially released.

    The title? The Making of Biblical Womanhood, by history professor (and Baylor alumna) Beth Allison Barr (BA ’96). Reviewing both the Bible and centuries of church history, Dr. Barr makes the case that Biblical passages used to justify “complementarianism” are often shaped more by culture and translation than by the Scripture’s historical and social contexts.

    “It’s no surprise we find patriarchy in the Bible, because that’s the world the people of the Bible lived in from Old Testament to New,” Barr told Religion News Service. “What is surprising is how much resistance to patriarchy we find in the Bible. The Old Testament raises women up — women like Rahab. She’s a prostitute, and she gets (named) in the line of Jesus. In the historical, patriarchal world, there is no reason to even mention her name. We see this continuous thread where women are lifted up, and women are given authority like Deborah. And then, of course, in the New Testament we see women holding surprising positions of authority… The world offers patriarchy, and Jesus offers us something better.”

    The Making of Biblical Womanhood has been featured by such diverse media outlets as NPR and the Baptist Standard, and more than a week after its release, it still ranks among Amazon’s top 300 books, coming in at No. 2 in Christian Church History and No. 3 in Christian Evangelism. The book has a 4.76 (out of 5) rating on Goodreads, and 94% of reviews on Amazon have been five stars.

    It’s Barr’s fourth book, but the first written for a wide audience. After graduating magna cum laude from Baylor in 1996, Barr earned master’s and doctoral degrees from North Carolina before returning to Baylor in 2002. She’s worked her way up from lecturer to post-doctoral fellow to assistant and then associate professor, along the way also taking on duties as director of the Baylor history graduate program. Since 2018, she has served Allen and Dawson halls as faculty-in-residence, living just down the hall from students along with her husband, Jeb Barr (BA ’97) — a pastor at First Baptist Church Elm Mott — and their two children.

    Sic ’em, Dr. Barr!