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Goddesses and the Divine FeminineA Western Religious History$
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Rosemary Ruether

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231467

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231467.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Rosemary Radford Ruether

University of California Press

This book deals with goddesses of the ancient Near East and Greece. It expresses a critique of theories of ancient matriarchy, while at the same time affirming the movements that seek to reinterpret those roots today for a feminist-ecological spirituality. It looks at four major goddesses of the ancient Mediterranean world: Inanna/Ishtar, Anat, Isis, and Demeter; it explores how goddesses and female symbols of the divine functioned in two major movements that sought religious salvation in the context of Greco-Roman society, the mystery religions and gnosticism; it traces female symbols in early Christianity from the first to the fourth century; it describes the world of sixteenth-century Europe, in the German context of the Reformation, where the most extensive effort of patriarchal Christianity to repress all female symbols of the divine took place; and it comments on contested gender identities which took a more strident form with the emergence of feminism in nineteenth-century western Europe and America.

Keywords:   Near East, goddesses, feminism, Greece, matriarchy, spirituality, mystery religions, gnosticism, female symbols, Christianity

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