Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God's Wife

I happened on biblical scholar Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou on the BBC today as she was discussing the notion that God had a wife who has been scrubbed from the Bible.

In ancient Hebrew God was the original "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named." You could call him "Lord" or by his initials (YHWH). Of his various pseudonyms one, curiously, is plural. 

Elohim, meaning multiple "gods," is one of the earliest titles given the Hebrew God. Psalm 82 shows Him as the chairman of the board on a committee of gods. Later monotheistic preachers have had to twist the bible into knots explaining how the word "gods" does not, in fact, refer to gods.

Hidden away in the dark recesses of the Old Testament is the name Asherah. A fertility goddess, she shows up occasionally as an object of worship in the Hebrew temple.

One school of thought is that in early Old Testament times there was a struggle between Elohim priests who worshiped a god family and Yahweh priests who insisted on a single, masculine patriarch god. The Genesis creation story, for example, is told twice. Once from an all powerful single god perspective and again from a collective polytheistic, "in our image" perspective.

Eventually, the monotheists won. God got a divorce and has been an bachelor deity ever since.
Ironically, when gentiles got a hold of the religion they restored polytheism with an urban jungle of angels and devils, saints and demons.  While God had sex a farm girl and made the Virgin Mary a goddess he didn't do the right thing by her and so Christians are forced to venerate her as an unwed mother.

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