The Telegraph asks the 7th in my occasional series of Theological Questions To Which The Answer Is No – based on John Rentoul of the Independent who has a series (mainly political) in the same vein.
The Telegraph has an article on a scholar with the by-line:
The BBC’s new face of religion is an atheist who claims that God had a wife
It starts off in good tabloid fashion:
Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou has been given a primetime BBC Two series, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, in which she makes a number of startling suggestions.
In fact they aren’t startling at all. She suggests that Eve has had a bad deal in theological history (true) and then the startling revelation that God has a wife:
The idea that God had a wife is based on Biblical texts that refer to “asherah”. According to Dr Stavrakopoulou, Asherah was the name of a fertility goddess in lands now covered by modern-day Syria, and was half of a “divine pair” with God.
Of course, what isn’t made clear in the article is that Asherah is NOT seen in the bible as a Jewish (or Christian) deity. It is precisely one of the gods of the near East like Baal and others that the people of God keep being told that they shouldn’t follow.
It seems that the Telegraph is trying to create controversy where really there is none. Why shouldn’t a knowledgeable atheist scholar talk about her area of expertise – the bible? People might learn something new.
One of the strengths of a good faith is that people are able to question and argue and debate it. The concern is when only the religious leaders are allowed to comment.
No idea if the series will be any good – too often they end up as damp squibs – but hey what’s the problem?
Came across an article by her that sees Asherah was seen as an earlier development along with Yahweh. I don’t see any real change here. We know that there was a lot synchronism around in early Judaism with other faiths – which the prophets railed against.
Update 16th march
Having watched it I have just reviewed last nights programme.
Update 23rd march
Have just reviewed the second programme Did God have a wife?
The review of the final episode – The Real garden of Eden