My Heroine

”This is my heroine” I said, pointing at the image of the woman on the projector screen, provoking the interest of my thirty students of my Religious Studies course. The reason for this spontaneous homage was the fortunate acquaintance I made just a few nights ago when I absentmindedly stumbled into the second episode of the BBC series ”The Bible’s Buried Secrets”.

For a couple of years I’ve been arranging the Old Testament section of my course in Religious Studies around the book ”The Bible Unearthed” by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman and the book ”Did God have a Wife?” by William Dever . We’ve been comparing passages from the Old Testament with the Ugaritic cuneiform tablets. We’ve been assessing archeological and philological evidence for the idea that the editors of the Old Testament wanted to camouflage the fact that the different names for God originally referred to separate gods. We’ve been assessing the evidence for the idea that the same editors wanted to obscure the original role played by the goddess Ashera.

And now before me on the television screen a mysterious feminine shape materializes from the limestone monoliths, elaborating brilliantly on the very same ideas…

I later learned that the name of my heroine is Francesca Stavrakopoulou and she’s a Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter…

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