Author Rachel Held Evans dies at age 37
Rachel Held Evans, an author and blogger popular with theologically liberal Christians, died Saturday at a hospital in Nashville, Tenn., after a brief illness. She was 37. On April 19, her husband, Dan Evans, announced that doctors had placed his wife in a medically induced coma after she began “exhibiting unexpected symptoms” and “experiencing constant seizures” after being treated for an infection. Doctors, according to her husband, attempted to wean her off of the coma medication this week, but her condition worsened. He said that “extensive swelling of her brain … caused severe damage and ultimately wasn’t survivable.”
The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, a former Lutheran pastor known for her irreverent and profane writings, including her endorsement of porn, was at Evans’ bedside. “We were able to surround her last night. Offered her our touch and tears and song. I anointed her with oil,” Bolz-Weber tweeted Saturday. “She was and is well loved.”
Evans was raised in a conservative Christian home and attended Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., where she met and married her husband, but she began to question her faith openly and write about it extensively, gaining a large following in liberal Christian circles. In 2012, she wrote the New York Times bestseller A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master,” where she made light of traditional male and female roles prescribed in the Bible.
Evans was also a graduate of the World Journalism Institute in 2001. “While we disagreed theologically, she was a fluid and engaging writer,” said Robert Case, the former director of WJI, WORLD News Group’s program that prepares Christian journalists for work in secular and Christian media. “I found her to be compelling and, at times, prickly but always respectful and engaging. I was proud to call her an alum of WJI.”
Pastor, blogger, and author Trevin Wax shared his memories of Evans on Twitter: “The two of us sparred online—in public and in private interactions—over the years. She was always friendly even when we had sharp disagreements. I always felt like her pushback and our debates sharpened me as a thinker and a writer, and I was grateful for that engagement.” He added, “What an awful reminder of how fragile we are. Lord, be with her family.”
In addition to Evans’ husband, her two young children, a 3-year-old boy and a nearly 1-year-old girl, survive her.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include reaction to Evans’ death.
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