Not In His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief
by John Lamb Lash, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2006, 430 pagesThis fascinating, well-written book about gnosis is scholarly yet understandable, while it contains more than one theory that some may find stretches credulity. John Lamb Lash’s research includes more respectful attention to Goddess materials than is common in many academic books, yet the central gnostic Sophia mythos Lash presents may not be entirely pleasing to Goddess feminists.
If you think that gnosticism is an early form of Christianity, think again! Lash sees the Gnostic view as growing out of classical Paganism, particularly in Greece and Egypt, and fed by earlier Paganism stretching back to the Neolithic. His Goddess and spiritual feminist sources include Riane Eisler, Marija Gimbutas. Barbara Walker, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Raphael Patai, and Merlin Stone. Of Gimbutas’ Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974), Lash writes:
Not in His Image will be especially appealing to ecofeminists and to people highly critical of Abrahamic doctrines and actions that suppressed (and still suppress) Goddess worship. Lash says that his primary reason for writing this book is that
This single book provides the most complete and reliable framework for tracing the rise of patriarchy, and presents solid archeological evidence of widespread existence of human-scale Goddess-based societies millennia before the rise of urban civilization.
Gnosis, taken as a path of experimental mysticism, and Sophianic vision, taken as a guiding narrative for coevolution, can provide a spiritual dimension for deep ecology independently of the three mainstream religions derived from the Abrahamic tradition.Lash begins with the story of the murder in 415 CE of Hypatia, one of many highly educated Alexandrian Pagan noblewoman, but one of the few who drove her own chariot. Said to be beautiful and intelligent, she was a civic official who didn’t oppose prosecuting Christians who viciously attacked Pagan doctrines. One day in March, as she drove her chariot through the public square, a crowd of Christian converts, led by a fellow called Peter the Reader, blocked her path. Calling Hypatia a heretic and witch, the mob used her robes and scarf to pulled her down. The Christian crowd then pelted her with tiles, stripped her, beat her to death, tore off her limbs and continued beating her dead body, then scraped the flesh from her bones with oyster shells and burned her bones to ashes. Hypatia, head of the university mathematics department and also known for her expertise in philosophy, theurgy, and applied science (she invented to prototype of the astrolabe) is considered the last known teacher in Mystery Schools, which Lash says were sources of gnostic learning about the Sophia mythos. Lash writes that "historians have long regarded her death as the event that defined the end of classical civilization in Mediterranean Europe. It signaled the end of Paganism and the dawn of the Dark Ages." Lash defines Paganism as "the generic term for pantheistic religion in the Western classical world." (p. 5)
The ‘Redeemer Complex’
Lash maintains that Abrahamic faiths are based on the "redeemer complex," which has four components:
creation of the world by a father-god independent of a female counterpart;These constructs, Lash says, result in a "victim-perpetrator bond" in society and comparable to the psycho-social family pattern in which abuse is perpetuated by those who have been abused.
the trial and testing (conceived as a historical drama) of the righteous few or "Chosen People";
the mission of the creator god’s son (the messiah) to save the world);
and the final apocalyptic judgment delivered by the father and son upon humanity.
According to Lash, the redeemer complex originated with a small extremist group of Jews that he traces back to the time of Abraham and calls the Zaddikim (or sometimes, Zaddikite). It should be noted (as he does) that this is his term, which he derives from the Hebrew zaddik, which is usually a complimentary term and means righteous or upright. (The -im is a Hebrew masculine plural ending.) It’s here that I started raising my eyebrows because as far as I know, there isn’t just one extremist group (he intimates this is, at least partially, a secret group) that can be identified beginning with Abraham’s time – although there may well be several different oppressive groups among the early Hebrews, Israelites, and Judeans. Certainly one of them can be identified as the Deuteronomists, whose suppression of Goddess culture is described in the biblical Deuteronomy. But this is a much later time historically than Abraham.
Lash also doesn’t hold back in his criticism of Christianity, whose (to him, destructive) salvationist doctrine he claims grew out of the Jewish Zaddikim views. Lash is no friend of Jesus, who he sees as a Zaddikim leader. But his criticism of Judaism is so strong that he apparently felt the need to devote a later chapter to telling us that it shouldn’t be taken as anti-semitic. I want to believe him, and I sympathize with the difficulty of expressing justified criticism of a persecuted group. This tenuous position makes it even more important that our facts be as pristine as possible. I will come back to this further down, but first I want to point out what I consider the strong points of this book, which include his clear explanation of the redeemer complex and victim-perpetrator bond, his clear explanation and distinction between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library, and last but certainly not least, his clear and extensive explanation of the Sophia mythos.
Lash explains that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in Hebrew and Aramaic on treated leather between 250 BCE and 70 CE by the "Zaddikite" (whom others call the Essenes). The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were concerned with what later grew into the Christian doctrine of salvationism and, consistent with the third and forth elements of the "redeemer complex," presented an apocalyptic program of final retribution. The scrolls were found in the ruins of a monastery at Khirat Qumran, about 30 miles east of Jerusalem, in 1948. Lash writes:
The Zaddikite sect of the Dead Sea presents the larval form of the global terrorist syndrome of today.In contrast, the Nag Hammadi Library (NHL) has 13 leather-bound volumes containing 52 documents written mostly in Coptic by various sects between 150 and 350 CE. They were discovered in a red clay jar in a cave in the cliffs of Egypt in 1945. Lash disagrees with the common assumption that NHL is early Christian literature. He takes issue with Elaine Pagels’ calling them (in the title of her book) "Gnostic Gospels." Lash argues that the New Testament Gospels are written in a form called "Hellenistic romance, a novella full of miracles, supernatural signs, cameo scenes with stock characters plus aphorisms..." The the material in the NHL is not written in this form, rather the collection is written in various forms that are "wildly diverse, often presenting contradictory elements jumbled into a single document" and further, most of the documents reject and refute "the salvationist message of the Evangelists...in ruthless and often lacerating terms." (pp. 107-109)
The Sophia Mythos
Sophia is Greek for Wisdom. Lash writes:
The Universe already exists when Sophia’s story begins, and it has never not been there...nor will there ever be a moment when it ceases to be.His use of the term "singularity" in explaining the central gnostic mythos, or sacred story, is not the same as the singularity at the big bang. In gnosis, its meaning is closer to "emanation," which I wish he had used because using "singularity" is confusing, especially since he tries to tie in much of what he is propounding with science.
The central gnostic mythos, or sacred story, tells how the deity Sophia (deities are called Aeons in gnosticism), becomes the Earth. Lash feels this myth connects strongly with contemporary Gaia theory. Here is a summary of the 9 episodes of the Sophia Mythos, with parts of particular concern to spiritual feminists bolded:
(1) A singularity arises within the Divine that carries the potential for novelty in the Universe. It is called Anthropos and eventually includes humans.
(2) Aeons Sophia (Wisdom) and Christos (the Anointed One) configure the singularity. Lash explains the difference between Jesus Christ and the gnostic Christos:
..the hybrid God-man Jesus Christ is not a genuine Gnostic teaching and can never have been one....In Mystery teaching, the Christos is not a divine redeemer for humanity, but an intermediary whose intercessory act affects all the animal kingdoms on earth, not the human species exclusively.Lash emphasizes that the gnostic Christos doesn’t incarnate in human form
(3) The singularity emanates from the Divine as a whole (called the Pleroma) into the realm of "outer chaos" so that it can unfold in emerging worlds.
(4) Sophia becomes fascinated with what might happen as Anthropos emerges into a world of its own. She is drawn into "dreaming," the cosmic process of emanation, which results in creation. But she is alone, without a male counterpart, in this creation process. In gnosis, this is inconsistent with the cosmic law of polarity. Consequently, dreaming Sophia drifts away from the cosmic center (Divine) and plunges into the outside realm of external chaos.
(5) Sophia’s fall from "the Godhead" unexpectedly produces inorganic beings called Archons, considered deviant entities that can hinder human development. The Archons gather around their central "deity," called the Demiurge, who mistakenly believes he is the creator of the Universe. He builds a "celestial habitat" for himself and the other Archons, which consists of all planets in the solar system, other than Earth. (Lash and many other gnostics identify the Demiurge with the Abrahamic father-god.)
(6) Sophia challenges the Demiurge, telling him that the Anthropos (including humans) will be smarter than the Archons because Anthropos emanates from the Divine (whereas the Archons arose outside of the Divine cosmic core). The Sun, which has been part of the realm of the Demiurge, chooses to align instead with Sophia against the Archons. Sophia, whom Lash calls, "the fallen goddess," produces from herself "in her own likeness," the life force Zoe (the Moon), who unites with the Sun, now considered the "mother star" of our planetary system.
(7) Sophia becomes Gaia, aka the planet the Earth, which, though it’s organic is captured in the "inorganic system" of the Demiurge, which includes all the other planets in the solar system.
(8) Sophia’s emotions (grief, fear, and confusion) transform the Earth and biosphere; life arises on Earth. But Sophia is unable to manage the various species. The deities sense her difficulties and send the Aeon Christos to help her. In what is known as the "Christic intercession," he brings order to Sophia’s world, leaving "a kind of radiant afterimage in the biosphere, then recedes from Earth" and returns to the realm of other Divine beings.
(9) Sophia remains in the Earth she has "dreamed," as humanity emerges. As Gaia, she is synonymous with, and immanent in, the Earth. The goal, however, is reorientation of Sophia/Gaia to the "cosmic center"–that is reunion with other Divine beings. Whether this is successful may depend on how humans live out their "novelty." The story of Sophia is ongoing and she co-evolves with humanity.
Lash says that the Sophia mythos was central to the Greater Mysteries celebrated in autumn in the Near East, Egypt, Greece and elsewhere in Europe. The exact details of the Mysteries have long been considered, well, a mystery, but we do know that they included worship of various goddesses, and Great Mothers, emphasizing their identity with nature. In the period Lash is discussing, c. 320-30 BCE, he says the primary deity in the Mysteries was Sophia/Gaia and the initiation which occurred included the information that Sophia’s "primary body" is light and her "planetary body is Earth." Lash writes: "The practice of Gnosis was full-body illumination in the presence of Sacred Nature clothed in animated currents of white light."During the Mysteries, initiates received instruction from (or in) light, also referred to as Organic Light, Supernal light, Mystery light, Divine light, etc.
How does this sound to you? A female deity at the center of gnosis that is immanent in the Earth (making Earth literally a living being, similar to the contemporary Gaia hypothesis), who "co-evolves" with humanity. Sounds pretty good?
Perhaps it is "pretty good," but it could be better. First we need to understand that this mythos apparently emerged about 2000-2500 years ago during an era when patriarchy had established itself not only in Abrahamic faiths but in Pagan religions as well. The Ancient Near East, Greek and Roman myths of this time are full of goddesses whose power has diminished from earlier times to the point that it is derived from male gods, rather than there being an equal male-female pairing or, as in some cultures 3500 or more years ago, the female deity being primary. Some examples: In Greek mythology, we have Athena springing from the brow of Zeus, a reversal of the birth process. In what is generally considered the earliest written myth, the Bronze Age Sumerian Inanna -Eriskegal myth ,the male god Enki must intervene before the Goddess Inanna can be rescued from the Inanna’s sister Goddess Eriskegal, Queen of the Underworld, and this is only accomplished when Inanna’s consort, Dumuzi, agrees to take her place in the Underworld for half the year. The mother-daughter bond in myth of Demeter/Persephone (Kore) was central to the the Eleusinian Mysteries. The best known version of this myth, in which the male god Hades rules the Underworld, involves abduction and rape of the Daughter. This apparently is a rewriting of an earlier myth, which doesn't contain abduction and rape, and in which both the Mother-Daughter bond, as well as the individual Goddesses, are stronger (See, for example, Christine Spretnak’s, "The Myth of Demeter and Persephone" in Weaving the Visions, ed. by Plaskow and Christ (1989). These mythologies are all from a time when cultures had undergone changes in which goddesses who once were primary even if they had consorts, transitioned to being goddesses who were required to share their power, and continued changing to goddesses whose derived their power from gods.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that although the Sophia mythos retains a Goddess and may remain close to nature, patriarchal assumptions have crept in. Do you see them?
If not, let me help ;-). In much earlier creation myths, including those involving Wisdom goddesses, female deities created parthenogenically, no problem! No one complained that they were bad girls because they hadn’t bothered to get a male partner before creating the Earth, the world, the Universe. It was logical to everyone that the initial creation would "emanate" from solely the Great Mother. (See, Asphodel P. Long’s In a Chariot Drawn by Lions.) In the Sophia mythos, Sophia gets so distracted by the "dreaming," (a creation process that doesn’t originate with her but rather from a "Godhead" or larger Divine, of which she is part) that she becomes part of the process, part of the "dreaming." She doesn’t bother to stop to get her male counterpart, Christos, with whom she earlier planned certain outcomes. Because she has the ovaries to continue the process on her own, she is separated from the whole of Divinity and "plunges" or "falls" into chaos. The bad guys of the Universe, the Archons, result from Sophia’s uppity activity and are led by the baddest guy of all, the Demiurge, who falsely asserts he created the Universe. (The existence of the Demiurge is also a result of Sophia’s creating without her mate.) Sophia continues to fall and becomes the Earth, and so paradoxically, if Sophia hadn’t illegitimately created on her own, the Earth would not be home to immanent divinity. Yet problems persist with Sophia/Gaia’s creation because she is overly emotional. Sophia recruits the Sun and creates the Moon, who are seen as female/feminine, to help her get it together, but she is still unable to properly direct what she has created. It’s not until Sophia’s male mate, Christos, intercedes that the species behave properly and humans emerge. After Christos straightens things out, he goes back to the Divine core, but Sophia remains immanent in the Earth as Gaia. Will she ever return to the Divine Core with the rest of the Aeons? Stay tuned for the rest of eternity to see. And remember, at least part of the results up to us humans, as we now co-evolve with Gaia/Sophia.
People familiar with Jewish Kabbalah and the later Hermetic Qabalah may see similarities between some of kabbalistic mythology and the Sophia mythos. Perhaps this is because Jewish Kabbalah developed in the same era as gnostic Sophia. It’s certainly not far-fetched, in fact I think likely, that there was some cross-pollination between gnosis and kabbalah. Or perhaps it occurred as part of Jewish gnosticism (See Gershom Scholem , Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition,1965). Centuries later, participants in (non-Jewish) Hermetic Qabalah were acquainted with gnosticism as well as many other forms of mysticism. Lash mentions Kabbalah a few times, but oddly doesn’t mention these similarities and issues:
Shekhinah is synonymous with the emanation (sefirah in Hebrew) called Malkut in Jewish Kabbalah. Malkut is the sefirah closest to Earth and is considered the feminine part of the Godhead. The Shekhinah separated from the rest of the Godhead to dwell on Earth with humans and to accompany and protect Jews whenever they go into exile. Through a process called in Hebrew, tikkun olam, humans are supposed to take part in the repair of the Earth which also repairs the rift between the Shekhinah and the rest of the Godhead (or sometimes just the masculine part of God, or sometimes specifically the masculine sefirah called Tifaret, considered Shekhinah's mate in some versions of Kabbalah.) To me, Shekhinah and the gnostic Sophia have much in common. Both are part of a more extensive "Godhead," both separate from that Godhead, Shekhinah to dwell on Earth with humans, Sophia to be immanent in the Earth; both are involved with humans in repairing a cosmic catastrophe.
In Jewish mysticism, this "catastrophe" is perhaps best described in the doctrine of "Breaking of the Vessels" in Lurianic Kabbalah, a form of Kabbalah that emerged in the 16th century, and in which the 10 containers for the emanations (sefirot in Hebrew) are seen as feminine because they are receptive and because they are located in the "cosmic womb." At the first attempt of creation (or first phase of creation, depending on your point of view) only the highest sefirah, Keter, is able to contain the emanation(s). The rest shatter and fall into the world of creation. This catastrophic event changes creation and creates the Adam Kadmon (primordial man). At a second attempt (or phase) of creation, bolstered by the Adam Kadmon, the first three vessels (Keter, Hokmah, Binah) are able to contain the emanations, but the vessels between Binah and Malkut (the lowest vessel) completely break. Malkut only partially breaks. (See also Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 137-141). To me, this is reminiscent of the catastrophe that occurs when Sophia enters the dreaming (creative emanation). In the Sophia mythos, Sophia falls into chaos and then is unable to control what she has helped create on Earth. In Lurianic Kabbalah, the feminine vessels are inadequate to hold the emanations but do better when bolstered by the masculine Adam Kadmon. In the Sophia Mythos, Christos rescues creation when Sophia is unable to control it. In both the female/feminine is source of cosmic catastrophe.
Hermetic Qabalah coalesced in the late 19th century from Christian, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek and other metaphysical sources. In Europe, the foremost advocates of Qabalah were members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD), centered in Britain. In the GD rituals, the biblical Eve was often referred to as "Mother of all" and "the Great Goddess." In the GD version of Qabalah, Eve is seen as "shirking" her duty to support pillars holding the sefirot when she is diverted by the serpent and apple. Eve’s diversion brings about "the Fall " (See R.G. Torrens, The Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn, 1973.), in the Christian sense, original sin and the separation of humans (and the natural world) from the divine. This is a more familiar, more literal, and probably even more misogynistic version of the "female brings disaster" story we see in Lurianic Kabbalah and earlier in the Sophia mythos.
Other Questions & QuibblesAs long as we’re talking about Kabbalah/Qabalah (both different transliterations of the same Hebrew word), let me mention more about Hokmah, which is Hebrew for Wisdom and thus the equivalent of the Greek Sophia. Although Lash discusses Kabbalah briefly and mentions the sefirah Hokmah, I find it curious that he doesn’t mention what is to me the oddest aspect of Hokmah in Kabbalah: after being personified as female for centuries, including in the Hebrew scriptures, in Kabbalah Hokmah is personified as male! (For more about this and a full analysis of gender in Jewish and Hermetic Qabalah, see Judith Laura: Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century).
Backtracking to the Shekhinah, in another oddity, Lash maintains that the Shekhinah was "excised from Judaism" (p. 145). I believe this is misleading. Though she wasn’t a Goddess in antiquity, Shekhinah has been a part of Judaism to the present day. In the bible the Shekhinah is understood to be the "presence" of God," sometimes described as a cloud or chariot. This "presence" is understood to be with the Jews whenever they are in exile, including the exile from Egypt in Exodus 26-28, where the Shekhinah is called "glory." The description of Shekhinah as the "feminine face of God," or the "feminine aspect of God" is post-biblical, apparently beginning in the early centuries CE. Today, most Jews are familiar with the Shekhinah as the Sabbath Queen, for whom the doors of the synagogue are symbolically opened during the Friday night sabbath service and who is welcomed with the Hebrew song, "L’cha Dodi," written by a 16th century kabbalist.
But perhaps the most outrageous statement that Lash makes about Judaism is the first sentence of chapter 17: "Monotheism begins with a god who hates trees." Many Jews, who consider their religion to be very tree-friendly, are sure to take umbrage at this. The quote that Lash uses from Deut. 12, shows not a god who hates trees, but rather a god who hates the use of trees to represent the Goddess Asherah. Do you get the difference? The biblical God (whether you consider him a legit deity or the Demiurge), and more specifically, his priests and other representatives, order trees destroyed because they feel the trees and places where they grow have been sullied by Goddess worship; they hope that by removing the sites where Goddess worship occur, they will put an end to it.
Some example of Jewish tree-loving activities that persist to this day:
The New Year of the Trees : In Hebrew, this holiday is called Tu B’Shevat. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which falls in late January to early February in the Roman calendar (yes, around the same time as Brigid/Candlemas.) Originally it marked the fiscal year for tree taxes, but later developed into a day to honor trees. Beginnning in the 20th century, this was a day to plant trees, especially in the emerging State of Israel. More recently, particularly in the US, it has become a holiday with a wider environmental focus.
Menorah: In another misleading statement, Lash says that the "Jews invented the menorah to replace what they destroyed" (the trees and groves dedicated to Asherah). He calls the menorah a "schematic abstraction from nature," that distances it from the natural world it represents.(pp. 229-230). Yet we find that the original instructions for making the menorah in Exodus 25:31-40 speak of representing branches, flowers, and almonds. This, to me makes it questionable that the intent was to distance the menorah’s branched candelabra from nature. Today it is common to find the branches of the menorah, especially the Hanukah menorah, made as tree branches. (I was going to give you links for this, but there are so many I’m just going to advise you to click on "images" on Google and search for "menorah+tree".) What probably was intended was the retention of the tree symbol without the Goddess, with which it had previously been associated. Again, what we have is not a separation from Nature, but a separation from the Goddess Asherah and the use of trees to represent her.
Kabbalah: The central symbol of Kabbalah is the Tree of Life, a symbol also used non-kabbalistically in Judaism. Further, kabbalists at least as far back as the 16th century met in a grove of trees. This doesn’t sound like a tree-hating religion to me. But it does sound like a religion that has separated the original Tree symbol from the Goddess.
The Goddess community some years ago separated itself from substituting blaming Jews for "killing" Goddess for blaming Jews for "killing Christ." (See, for example, "On Not Blaming the Jews for the Death of the Goddess" in Carol P. Christ, Laughter of Aphrodite, 1987.) Did the Jews, or their forbears, suppress Goddess worship? Most certainly some Jews, especially those in power, did. We have a very clear picture of this in the Hebrew scriptures. But it’s because we have such a clear record of this suppression in the Bible that we know about it, not because the Israelites were the only culture – or even the first culture – to suppress Goddess worship. By now scholars have established that Goddess veneration was also being suppressed in many different cultures across at least the Middle East and Europe (see The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, and the works of Marija Gimbutas.) Although Lash alludes to the Zaddikim being a small, extremist Jewish group, he doesn’t tell us what the rest of the ancestors of the Jews believed or practiced. A better approach to assessing what went on in the Ancient Near East (ANE) in general, and among Hebrews, Judeans, and Israelites, in particular, is to see them as among several indigenous ANE religions, and to understand that the traditions within this particular indigenous religion were varied. For example, the approach taken by William Dever, whose work Lash references in other contexts, points out that the Goddess-suppressing described in Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures, was carried out by about 1 percent of the people, who were participants in the "state" or "book" religion, while the other 99 percent were pursuing a "folk religion" that included Asherah worship (Dever, Did God Have a Wife? pp.69-73). Raphael Patai, whom Lash also references, points out that a statute of Asherah was "present in the Temple for no less than 236 years, two-thirds of the time the Solomonic temple stood in Jerusalem."(Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, 1990 [and earlier editions], p. 38) I think that Lash’s work could benefit from taking into consideration Patai’s and Dever’s approaches, allowing us to acknowledge that some of the practices of the 99% of the folks, such as closeness to nature in general and trees in particular, and the inclusion of feminine or female aspects of the divine, were brought forward into laterJewish practice and continue in Jewish practice today.
I am more convinced by Dever’s distinction between folk and state (or book) religion than I am by Lash’s assertion of a secret extremist sect going back before Abraham and forward to Solomon’s time or later.
In making his case for there being the secret Zaddikim sect, Lash discusses what he calls an enigmatic priesthood that included Melchizedek, the priest who "recruited the first patriarch [Abraham] and conferred on the community of Israel its identity as a ‘chosen people’," and Zadok (or the priest of Zadok) who was called to anoint Solomon. Lash maintains that neither of them belong to the "hereditary priesthoods of Benjamin, Aaron, and Levi." (p. 64) Since my biblical scholarship has its limitations, I consulted Rabbi Jill Hammer ,who said she was not aware of a hereditary priesthood of Benjamin, and that the tribes of Aaron and Levi and are considered to be the only tribes that had hereditary priesthoods. Rabbi Hammer writes:
"Zadok is the high priest at the time of David, founder of a line of priests – this line is endorsed by the book of Samuel as the only proper line for the high priest, because Zadok was faithful to David during an attempted coup. (see II Sam. 20)." Rabbi Hammer points out that Zadok is considered to be in the line of the Aaron. Rabbi Hammer agrees that "Melchitzedek is somewhat mysterious: he is a priest who blesses Abraham; obviously not a Jewish priest, but a priest of El Elyon (God Most High) who is the priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem). He seems to have spiritual authority over Abraham but it's not clear why (see Gen. 14). The text does suggest that Abraham, like Moses, is tutored by spiritual leaders from other traditions."
And So I Conclude
As you can see, there is quite a bit of meat in this book. I’ve covered here just some of what I scribbled notes about, and I want to bring this to an end before those still reading this require eye doctor appointments.
Because of the misogyny inherent in a view that holds a Goddess responsible for messing up creation (or evolution), asserts that this "fall" is caused by her independence, and portrays her as needing rescuing by the male Aeon Christos, the Sophia mythos may not present a view that many of today’s Goddess feminists would want to adopt in its entirety. Nevertheless, In His Image is valuable for its clear explanation of gnosis in general and in particular of the metaphysical basis of gnosis as growing out of earlier Pagan thought, including Goddess traditions. It is also useful in giving us a picture of how one Goddess figure was incorporated into a tradition already changed by patriarchy and for pointing out the similarities between the Sophia mythos and Gaia theory. So if these things interest you, yes, I would recommend that you read this book.
For more about John Lamb Lash's views about gnosis, visit his website at http://metahistory.org/
UPDATE, Sept. 8: See author John Lamb Lash's reply to this review in the "comments" below.
UPDATE, Sept. 10: See scholar Max Dashu's reply in the "comments" below. (To avoid confusion, the correct url for the the article on "Khokhmah and Sophia" that Dashu mentions in her comment is www.suppressedhistories.net/articles/sophia.html)
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