Goddess and God: A Holy Tension in the First Christian Centuries (paper)
In this volume, Dr. Abrahamsen shows that vestiges of the prehistoric Nature goddess, worshipped by Neolithic and other peoples for millennia, survived into the Graeco-Roman period, under different guises, and influenced the development of Christianity. She argues that, while a male-dominated religious ethos supplanted goddess religion in the West starting with the Bronze Age, goddess beliefs and practices persisted "underground" and could not be completely suppressed or ignored. Her evidence is drawn from the existence of goddess symbols in the catacombs, other early church art, and basilica art from the early Byzantine era; from extant folklore and folk traditions; from magic and other quasi-religious practices evident in the early Christian tradition; and from certain rituals preserved by the church.
"I am delighted that Valerie Abrahamsen's work is becoming available to students and scholars of early Christianity. Abrahamsen's archeological expertise and her training in Early Christianity enable her to do this creative interdisciplinary work. This book will give people a much fuller understanding of the importance of women's roles and Goddess imagery in the first Christian Centuries."
Joanna Dewey, Ph.D.
Academic Dean and Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr. Professor of Biblical Studies, Episcopal Divinity School
Dr. Valerie Abrahamsen, an independent scholar, is author of Women and Worship at Philippi: Diana/Artemis and Other Cults in the Early Christian Era (Astarte Shell Press, 1995). A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, she holds the Doctor of Theology and Master of Theological Studies degrees in New Testament and Early Christian Origins. She has published articles and book reviews in The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, The Journal of Higher Criticism, Biblical Archaeologist, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, and The Christian Ministry, among other venues. A long-time member of the Society of Biblical Literature, she has presented papers at its local, national and international meetings. She is listed in the 2000 Outstanding Scholars of the Twentieth Century, Who's Who of Biblical Scholars and Archaeologists, and Who's Who of American Women 1997-98. Dr. Abrahamsen has taught at the college level and in adult education settings. She is an academic administrator in southern Vermont and an active Episcopalian.
MPM 10: Goddess and God:
A Holy Tension in the First Christian Centuries
by Dr. Valerie Abrahamsen, ThD