Mary and Wisdom in Protestant Mystical Millennialism

Rosemary Radford Ruether

in Goddesses and the Divine Feminine

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780520231467
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940413 | DOI:
Mary and Wisdom in Protestant Mystical Millennialism

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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

Chapter.  11648 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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