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Sacred Sex?

If you are the sort of feminist who finds the Bible’s sexism disturbing, and books about the Goddess attractive, then IN THE WAKE OF THE GODDESSES: WOMEN, CULTURE, AND THE BIBLICAL TRANSFORMATION OF PAGAN MYTH by TIkva Frymer-Kensky (The Free Press, 1992) is an important work to read. In this excerpt Frymer-Kensky dispels myths about sacred sex.

The lack of emphasis on eros in biblical thought creates a vacuum that has been filled by some modern biblical scholars, who describe a “sex cult” that the people practiced in Hosea’s time. According to these scholars, Israel knew a “sexual orgiasticism,” which included sacred prostitutes, festive orgies, and a peculiar initiation rite in which every young girl offered herself to the divinity by having sex with a stranger inside the holy area, in return for which she expected fertility….

The whole idea of a sex cult — in Israel or in Canaan — is a chimera, the product of ancient and modern sexual fantasies. Ever since the beginnings of modern biblical scholarship, it has been assumed that Semitic religion was very sexy, that the temples “thronged with sacred prostitutes,” and that there was a widespread worship of a great mother-goddess in which sexual union at the sanctuary ensured fruitfulness. No real evidence for this has been unearthed, but most contemporary scholars simply assume the existence of sexual licentiousness, referring in footnotes to each other