Kristin Kissell

Publication Date



Body, Spirit, Divine Feminine, Ancient Near East Goddess, Inana, Ishtar, Nephesh


This work addresses the question of what we can learn about body, gender, and sexuality from ancient Near Eastern goddess traditions in order to subvert binaries of body/spirit and male/female in Christianity. The methodology used is a feminist and comparative. Beginning with an analytic account of body in the context of antiquity and today, I highlight the importance of understanding body personification in different times and spaces; emphasizing the need to continually hold the body, embodiment, and experience in tension and mystery rather than certainty and categorization. I seek to expose the damage such binaries, language, and categorization inflict upon all persons, particularly women. Ancient Near Eastern people knew the importance of both feminine and masculine energy. Unfortunately, our Western culture has been molded primarily through masculine logic and reason. The idea that the feminine is less than divine leaves women feeling shamed and striving toward unrealistic perfection in a world that continually says they are not enough, and their sexuality is less than sacred. Deconstructing the language and assumptions made about goddess traditions is vital in order to reconstruct an honoring and empowering divine feminine spirituality. A retrieval of two ancient goddess hymns is a way to re-imagine and move beyond dualism. The result is a more robust, holistic, and embodied Christian spirituality that celebrates both divine masculine and divine feminine. By retrieving hymns to the goddess and uncovering hidden jewels of the divine feminine within the biblical text, women and those who resonate with the feminine energy can find strength, compassion, and divinity in their own image. The newly exposed divine feminine biblical texts, along with the ancient Near Eastern goddess hymns, can enter into dialogue with androcentric Christian traditions expanding and deepening our understanding of who Creator is.