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Amy Abdallah: The Book of Womanhood

Amy F. Davis Abdallah, The Book of Womanhood (Cascade Books, 2015 / The Lutterworth Press, 2016), xviii + 203 pages, ISBN 9781498221344/9780718894245.

When does a girl become a woman? What does it mean to be a woman, as opposed to a girl? Likely, there are a variety of answers to these questions and perhaps just as much confusion. The author, not fitting the stereotypical pattern of married with children like the majority of women in church she knew, wanted to understand what it meant to be a woman when she didn’t identify with these particular life choices. Amy Davis Abdallah discovered the answers for herself and developed a rite of passage to help young women discover their own answers. This book is the fruit of her research and serves as a kind of workbook for women in all walks of life.

Rites generally are intended to transition individuals from one position or place in society to another. “The role of a rite of passage into womanhood is to create opportunities for girls to gain knowledge, skills, and the disposition that seeks maturity and development in these relationships” (p. 6). Moreover, Abdallah writes, “Mature Christian womanhood is realized through relationship, since the rites [emphasize] relationship with God and others” (p. 6). The premise of both the book and the rite is that a Christian woman should know when and how she becomes a woman. Thus, the rite of passage is for girls becoming women, but is also particularly helpful for women who are unsure of when they can call themselves woman. Nevertheless, the book isn’t intended just for women but also for men who want to understand and empower the women in their lives.

Women must decide what is important to them and put their energies into cultivating and living those values.

The book is divided into an introduction, four sections, and a conclusion. The four sections concern a woman’s relationship with God, self, others, and creation. The chapters include quotes from participants in the Woman rite of passage at Nyack College, questions for reflection to be answered in community with others, and a prayer before moving on to subsequent chapters.

Being a woman is not about success or failure. It’s a journey that lasts a lifetime in community with others.

Section one deals with God’s image in us and the Bible’s depiction of women, using examples of Mary, the mother of Jesus, Huldah, Deborah, and Martha in their different roles in the community. Section two covers self-care and understanding the needs, emotions, and biology of being a woman, including sexuality, taking care of one’s health, and developing one’s confidence and voice. Section three concerns healthy relationships between males and females, as well as female to female relationships. Abdallah asserts women and men can be “just friends” without any problem of sexual temptation. Topics, such as being like Jesus and interdependence, are also part of this section, and readers learn it is possible for women to live successful single lives. The final section shows how women should relate to creation. Human beings are called to Sabbath rest. They are called to be stewards of creation, and they are called to be creative. This section encourages women to find the balance between rest and purpose.

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Category: Fall 2017, Living the Faith

About the Author: Michelle Vondey, Ph.D. (Regent University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), has more than twenty years’ experience working in non-profit organizations. Her interests are focused mainly on developing followers in their roles in organizations. She teaches courses in leadership, critical reasoning, and Christian discipleship. 2012 dissertation LinkedIn

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