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The Bible and FeminismRemapping the Field$
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Yvonne Sherwood

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198722618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198722618.001.0001

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The Ancient Goddess, the Biblical Scholar, and the Religious Past

The Ancient Goddess, the Biblical Scholar, and the Religious Past

Re-imaging Divine Women

(p.495) Chapter 27 The Ancient Goddess, the Biblical Scholar, and the Religious Past
The Bible and Feminism

Francesca Stavrakopoulou

Oxford University Press

This discussion interrogates the ways in which the confessional, cultural, and ideological heritages of biblical studies have shaped and disfigured the scholarly analysis of ancient West Asian goddesses. Once dismissed as ‘deviant’ or ‘demoralizing’ elements of ‘nature religions’, goddesses have been (relatively) rehabilitated within biblical scholarship. But this article argues that problematic ideologies continue to underlie and frame scholarly discourse. In particular, the essay critiques the freighted interpretations of literary and iconographic portrayals of deities including Asherah and Anat, and challenges the essentializing, reductive tendencies of scholarship dealing with issues of gender, corporeality, and personhood. It is argued that the socio-cultural contexts of biblical scholarship directly index contemporary forms of Western androcentrism, heteronormativity, and constructs of gender, so that scholarly debates about goddesses and the ‘female’ body continue to limit, distort, and cheapen the assumed socio-religious and cultural value of divine women in their ancient contexts.

Keywords:   body, gender, goddesses, Bible, Western gaze, iconography, essentialism, reductionism

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