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I’ll never forget the first time a man asked me why I was in seminary. “Why don’t you just get married and let your husband teach you?” he quipped. I glared at him and responded, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that studying the Bible formally for three years of my life would be detrimental to my health!” Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time someone questioned why conservative women attend seminary, but that moment was the first time I really began to question why I matriculated—was I veering from a womanly path? Would I relinquish my womanhood upon gaining a theological degree? I wish I had Abigail Dodds’ new book, (A)Typical Woman: Free, Whole, and Called in Christ to speak truth and confidence into my first-year seminarian self. Dodds affirms that the entire concept of what it means to be a woman has been convoluted by the world and Christians alike, and draws us back to Scripture, using our union with Christ to anchor our understanding of what it means to be Christian women.
Part one reminds us of the importance of defining our terms. While some sources define what it means to be a woman by outward actions and attitudes separate from the human base, Dodds demonstrates that Scripture never divorces our humanity from our womanhood. God made us man and woman, not sexually-neutral bases infused with peculiarities. A second pass through this section helped me understand her point: there is no need to focus on what we can do to be women because God has already made us women: truly and completely, and his creation of us as women is not “dependent on our ability to live it out rightly” (37). She’s here addressing the fact that church and society have often put unnecessary and harmful burdens on women when...
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