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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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Mary and Wisdom in Protestant Mystical Millennialism

Mary and Wisdom in Protestant Mystical Millennialism

(p.220) Eight Mary and Wisdom in Protestant Mystical Millennialism
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Rosemary Radford Ruether

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the world of sixteenth-century Europe, in the German context of the Reformation. Here, we see the most extensive effort of patriarchal Christianity to repress all female symbols of the divine. Wisdom, Mother Church, and bridal soul, as well as Mary and female saints, are swept away by church Reformers in favor of an exclusive focus on God the Father and his crucified son. It is this Protestant history that stands behind the assumption of modern Western feminists that patriarchal religion normally seeks to purge all female symbols of the divine. This assumption has obscured the way in which patriarchal religions have continually created new (androcentric) goddesses. However, this view of a patriarchal Protestantism with exclusively male symbols is itself too simple. Protestants have failed to recognize, and to appropriate as part of their tradition, continual waves of mystical and millennialist Protestantism from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, which redeveloped the Wisdom symbol and re-created a vision of God and the human being as androgynous.

Keywords:   Mary, Wisdom, Europe, Reformation, Christianity, female symbols, Mother Church, Protestantism, patriarchal religion, God

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