Interesting speculation today on the erasure of God's wife from the Old Testament. New research suggests the fertility goddess Asherah makes appearances in early versions of Biblical texts, and that she and Yahweh were worshipped together as a couple, but she appears to have been edited out.
Francesca Stavrakopoulou, senior lecturer in the department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, has been researching Asherah and her omission from modern-day Abrahamic religions. Clues to the goddess's importance have been found in ancient texts and on amulets and pottery discovered in modern-day Syria.
Stavrakopoulou references an eighth-century-B.C. piece of pottery found in the Sinai desert, which contains an inscribed petition for a blessing. The inscription addresses "Yahweh and Asherah" as a divine couple. The Book of Kings also includes passages describing a statue of Asherah being worshiped in Yahweh's Temple in Jerusalem. The name Asherah is often translated as "Sacred Tree" in English versions of religious texts — an interesting way to minimize the presence of a female deity in the evolution of the Hebrew text.
A three-part series based on Stavrakopoulou's research is now airing in Europe. It could be fascinating — there's a lot to talk about here, from the ways that translations move a text away from its original meaning, to how monotheism and manhood can rewrite religious history.