news-category: M. Christopher White School of Divinity

Best-Selling Author and Professor Beth Allison Barr Speaker for GWU Lecture Series

A collage showing Beth Allison Barr and a photo of her book coverof

Historian, Pastor’s Wife and Mom of Two Will Discuss Biblical Womanhood

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Best-selling author and history professor Beth Allison Barr is the guest speaker for the Mary Washburn Wilson Lecture Series at 1 p.m. on Nov. 14 and 15 at Gardner-Webb University. Barr is the author of “The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth,” which is a USA Today Bestseller and Christianity Today 2022 Book Award Finalist in history and biography.

The lecture series, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Dover Chapel. Barr will speak on “The Cost of Complementarianism for Evangelical Women” and “The Cost of Complementarianism Beyond the Evangelical World.” A time of Q&A will be held after each presentation.

“Dr. Barr is not only a gifted, first-rate, and highly sought after historian and researcher, she blends her expertise as a scholar with a unique capacity of communication to broader groups than just the academy,” observed Dean of the School of Divinity Dr. Robert Canoy. “As a Baptist pastor’s wife and mother, she is very much at home in the local church and knows how to relate exceptionally well to persons of all ages and backgrounds.”

Barr is currently the James Vardaman Professor of History at Baylor University (Waco, Texas), where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. She has been a guest on NPR and featured in “The New Yorker,” and her bylines include “Religion News Service,” “The Washington Post,” “Christianity Today,” “The Dallas Morning News,” “Sojourners,” and “Baptist News Global.” She also continues to write regularly on “The Anxious Bench,” a popular religious history blog on “Patheos.”

“History forgets much more than it remembers, and what it remembers is often what people have chosen to preserve,” Barr offered. “As a medieval historian and a modern Christian, I argue that historical ignorance has paved the way for evangelical support of women’s oppression. I also contend that a lack of understanding about the broader cultural impact of these evangelical beliefs contributes to the continuation of oppressive structures outside of the church. Historical amnesia among evangelicals thus comes at great cost for not only women in the church but also for human dignity.”

Beth Allison Barr

Barr’s work is described as “smart,” “powerful,” and “a game changer” for women in modern evangelicalism. “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” was also named one of the best books about women in the Middle Ages by Sara M. Butler, the King George III Professor in British History at the Ohio State University in Columbus. 

With her ability to connect to both academic and lay audiences, Barr speaks at international and national venues—such as the University of Notre Dame, Duke Divinity, Sarum College in Salisbury, England, the University of Calgary, Parks Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, the Evangelical Free Society of Canada, Newbigin House in San Francisco, California, and Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas.

Barr received her Bachelor of Arts in History (with a minor in Classics) from Baylor University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has served as the president of the Conference on Faith and History and president of the Texas Medieval Association, as well as remaining an active member of the International Medieval Sermon Studies Society, American Society of Church History, Sixteenth Century Society, and American Historical Association.

Barr is also the author of “The Pastoral Care of Women in Late Medieval England” and co-editor of “The Acts of the Apostles: Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation and Faith and History: A Devotional.” Since receiving tenure in the Baylor history department in 2014, Barr has served as Graduate Program Director in History (2016-2019), received a Centennial Professor Award (2018), and served as an Associate Dean in the Baylor Graduate School (2019-2022).

The Mary Washburn Wilson lectures are supported by the Mary Washburn Wilson Visiting Scholar Endowment, which was established in honor of Mary Leigh Washburn Wilson (1922-2003) through a generous gift by her daughter, the Rev. Tillie Duncan, a member of the GWU Gallery of Distinguished Alumni, along with her husband, Shannon Duncan.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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