‘A book that blows the lid off one of the most ancient cover-ups in the world - the existence of a feminine deity every bit as important as the masculine Yahweh. This is a book that all should read - regardless of their spiritual bent. It's powerful, thought provoking and wonderfully contentious. And - an all too rare thing these days - the scholarship of the writers is evident on every page. So read on - and be prepared to be astounded and diverted. Your world may never look the same again.’
John Matthews, author of Temples of the Grail and co-author of The Lost Book of the Grail
‘Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince are two of most important history writers of modern times. They build a compelling case for the veneration of the goddess alongside the religion of Yahweh among the ancient Israelites and how its persistence lingered through to the age of Jesus. A page-turning read from start to finish.’
Andrew Collins, author of The Cygnus Key and Göblekli Tepe
‘Picknett and Prince, long known for profoundly unsettling religious and historical revelations, have excelled themselves with this story of the little-known Israelite goddesses - their rise, fall, and unexpectedly, their rise again. But now we are also faced with another deeply uncomfortable cover-up - that of the priestesses who celebrated the goddess even from within Christ's own circle. A major book and aa gripping read.’
Graham Phillips, author of The Virgin Mary Conspiracy and The Chalice of Magdalene.
‘What I like about this book is the referencing to external scholarship, and clarity of presentation.’
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Dr Robert Feather, author of The Secret Initiation of Jesus at Qumran and Where Moses Stood.
‘There's so much more to discover about the suppression of the sacred feminine in both Judaism and Christianity - even after The Templar Revelation and The Masks of Christ', say Lynn and Clive. 'This book takes the story back much further, to the very first days of the Israelite religion, then forward once again to early Christianity - and the discoveries we made along the way shed an extraordinary new light on the existence, suppression and curious reluctance to disappear of Jewish goddesses.’ So in a sense this book is a sequel - or possibly even a prequel - to their now classic works…
It starts at the very beginning: Genesis, with its mysterious plural term for ‘God’ (Elohim). Did this surprising pantheon also include goddesses - even God's own wife? Enter the splendid Asherah, much beloved of ordinary Israelites for millennia…
Lynn and Clive set the story of the goddess Asherah against the turbulent history of her people, stopping to rebuff the academic 'biblical minimalists', who dismiss the Old Testament for lack of hard archaeological evidence. Yes, it was all a very long time ago and nuts-and-bolts traces are now thin on the ground, but it's possible to show that some at least of the famous events did happen, though on a much smaller, less significant scale than the Bible would have us believe. However, what was greater than the Bible would have us believe was the influence of the Egyptian religion on the Israelites' worship of their god Yahweh (Jehovah).
Among this book's surprising - perhaps even shocking - revelations is the history of Yahweh himself, especially his relationship with other gods and goddesses. Perhaps astoundingly, the early Israelites were not, as most Jewish people and Christians today believe, monotheists. They were monolaters, believers in the existence of many deities, while choosing to worship one over the others. Yet Yahweh's consort Asherah was once deemed so important that she was officially worshipped alongside him in Solomon's iconic Temple.
Other goddesses were also worshipped by the Israelites, such as the scary war goddess Anat who, Lynn and Clive argue, was originally Yahweh's consort - before she was replaced by the less bellicose Asherah. Her veneration alongside Yahweh was perpetuated by Hebrew colonies in Egypt until at least as late as the 4th century BCE.
The book reveals the existence of a priestess-hood dedicated to Asherah, whose practices, astonishingly, included sacred sexual rites, as well as a line of prophetesses and wise women who were advisors to the Kings of Israel, even on matters of warfare.
Then we see how the near-eclipse of the sacred feminine took place. Asherah's days of overt glory were, of course, numbered - the prophets of the patriarchy denounced her worship in thunderous terms. And as ever, suppression of the sacred feminine also meant suppression of the everyday feminine.
However, with characteristic persistence the goddess tradition did manage to stagger on - even in a sort of coded fashion… She was embodied in the figure of Wisdom (Chokmah, later the Greek Sophia), although Lynn and Clive show this was just an attempt to tame the goddess by stripping her of her strong, independent sexual aspect - making her instead a pathetically subservient conduit to Yahweh. Apparently - and tragically - even once-great goddesses must know their place. But it was by no means the death of God's wife.
Outside the control of the Temple priests, the original cult of the Goddess survived, particularly in Samaria…
And it was from that vexed area that a man emerged whom history has denounced as being second only to Judas as the greatest threat to the integrity of early Christianity, and whose life and works were deemed nothing short of utterly disgusting, bestial and satanic. But did this, of all men, actually hold the key, not only to the survival of the goddess in Judaism, but also to Jesus and Mary Magdalene's own secret agenda?
For the first time in print the full - and at times shocking - implications of the presence of the goddess in Christianity are presented - because there has never been a better time to do so.
With careful reference to the latest historical and archaeological discoveries, Lynn and Clive present a painstakingly assembled jigsaw. The central image that emerges is of a great divine female figure, finally and lovingly restored to her central position in two great religions. She is holding out her arms to the millions of Judaic and Christian worshippers who, in our confused and turbulent 21st-century world, need to acknowledge and cherish her in their lives more than ever.
When God Had a Wife is published by Bear & Co. and is available in paperback and e-book. An audiobook edition is currently in production.
Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, where Asherah was worshipped alongside the Israelite God Yahweh for 270 of its 370 years: her presence in the Temple was the norm and not, as the Bible claims, an occasional aberration